Increased sedimentation following the Neolithic Revolution in the Southern Levant

Neolithic Revolution:

Also called the Agricultural Revolution, beginning at ~11.5 ka in the Southern Levant (containing the Dead Sea drainage basin).

Traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles, followed by humans since their evolution, were swept aside in favor of permanent settlements and a reliable food supply. The establishment of large villages and the concomitant domestication of plants and animals that formed the basis of the Neolithic lifeways. These life styles forever changed the trajectory of human history.

One should expect that sediments in the Dead Sea were imprinted by these strong and long-lasting activities.

The Dead Sea drainage basin offers a rare combination of well-documented substantial climate change, intense tectonics and abundant archaeological evidence for past human activity in the Southern Levant. It serves as a natural laboratory for understanding how sedimentation rates in a deep basin are related to climate change, tectonics, and anthropogenic impacts on the landscape.

Fig. 2

Here we show how basin-wide erosion rates are recorded by thicknesses of rhythmic detritus laminae and clastic sediment accumulation rates in a long core retrieved by the Dead Sea Deep Drilling Project in the Dead Sea depocenter. During the last ~11.5 kyr the average detrital accumulation rate is ~3-4 times that during the last two glacial cycles (MIS 7c-2), and the average thickness of detritus laminae in the last ~11.6 kyr is ~4.5 times that between ~21.7 and 11.6 ka, implying an increased erosion rate on the surrounding slopes during the Holocene.

Graphical abstract [RGB-900dpi]

We estimate that this intensified erosion is incompatible with tectonic and climatic regimes during the corresponding time interval and further propose a close association with the Neolithic Revolution in the Levant (beginning at ~11.5 ka). We thus suggest that human impact on the landscape was the primary driver causing the intensified erosion and that the Dead Sea sedimentary record serves as a reliable recorder of this impact since the Neolithic Revolution.

Fig. 6-SAR-220 ka -[RGB-900dpi]

This paper was newly published on the Global and Planetary Change (doi:org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2017.04.003).


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