transition to food production in the southern Levant are often considered to have been triggered by climate changes at the end of the Pleistocene (~20,000e11,000 years BP). This explanation, however, is biased by the scarcity of high-resolution climate records directly associated with human activity and the lack of refined palaeoecological studies from multi-stratified sites in the area. Here, we present the results of an anthracological analysis, carried out on charcoals collected along a continuous column of archaeological sediments in the Natufian site of el-Wad Terrace (Mount Carmel, Israel).We also present the carbon isotopes analysis of 14C-dated archaeological remains of Amygdalus sp. The analyses of charcoal shows the predominance of an oak forest including Quercus calliprinos and ithaburensis around the site during the Early Natufian building phase (~14,600e13,700 cal BP), and the values of D13C point to a high rainfall rate. This period is followed by a marked decrease in the local rainfall between ~13,700 and 12,000 cal BP). The reduction, culturally associated with the latest Early Natufian and the Late Natufian, is independently recorded by the speleothems of the region: Soreq Cave and Jerusalem Cave. This period incorporates an increase in drought tolerant species such as Amygdalus sp. Thermo-Mediterranean species, such as Olea europaea and Ceratonia siliqua, as well as Pistacia palaestina, which dominate the modern landscape, become established in the Holocene. We conclude that the Natufian settlement at el-Wad Terrace flourished in the context of oak forests, and subsequently occupation intensity decreased in concurrence to the drying trend. This shift does not correspond to the cultural typology (i.e. Early Natufian vs. Late Natufian). Human response to climate change at the terminal Pleistocene Levant was multifaceted and localized. Its understanding requires the analysis of records that are well-tied to human ecology and behavior.
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