North African Climate and Archaeology

 

 WEBSITE_Morocco_NASA_MODIS_25_Jan_2005

NASA satellite image of Morocco (MODIS, 05/01/2005) (unaltered)

 

Rationale

North African climate is influenced by climatic regimes associated with the Mediterranean, the North Atlantic and the Sahara dessert.  As a result, North African climate is sensitive to glacial to sub-millennial timescale shifting of climate boundaries, resulting in high temporal and spatial climatic variability.  However, the variation arising from interplay between these climate systems is currently poorly understood due to a paucity of high-resolution terrestrial records with absolute chronology.

We use speleothem records from geographically and climatically distinct areas in Morocco to reconstruct and compare regional climates during the Late Quaternary and the Holocene.  These records provide insight into the differential controls on climate in these areas, particularly the influence of topography, and thus the shifting of climate boundaries.

Morocco is of particular interest for studying palaeoclimate as it hosts a very rich and extensive archaeological record.  Abrupt climate change is considered a potential driver of prehistoric human activities and as such, has important implications for prehistoric human dispersals and evolution.  Speleothem records are highly applicable to testing this theory due to their absolute chronology, high resolution and terrestrial nature (including proximity to Archaeological sites).  


Current work

  • Investigating concordant speleothem growth in the far north, southwest and southeast (of the Atlas Mountains) to enable direct comparison of regional records through the mid-Holocene Climatic Optimum Period.
  • Analyzing a discontinuous 375Ka long stalagmite record revealing glacial-deglacial variation on the currently hyper-arid Saharan fringe.


Funding

The Boise Fund, for research on antiquity and evolutionary origin of modern Homo sapiens and other hominins with particular emphasis on exploration of sites in Africa and early migration of Palaeolithic communities.

 

People

Julia Barrott

Dr. Chris Day

Prof. Gideon Henderson

Prof. Nick Barton (School of Archaeology)

 

Links

The Boise Fund

The Response of Humans to Abrupt Environmental Transitions (RESET) project

RESET at Oxford