Thursday 22 April at 4pm
Modelling land use in the ancient Near East: methodological problems and interpretive potential with Dr. Dan Lawrence, Durham University
Land use and land cover (LULC) changes have important biophysical and biogeochemical effects on climate via a variety of mechanisms. The PAGES working group LandCover6k aims to produce global reconstructions of land use and land cover based on archaeological data to provide climate modellers with datasets for sensitivity testing. The Ancient Near East has a long history of agricultural and pastoral exploitation, and as such represents a key area for the understanding of human induced landcover change. This paper will discuss the methods through which land use has been reconstructed by the Middle East group of the Landcover6K project. It will also show how these methods can also be used by archaeologists to investigate socio-ecological systems through time, building on datasets collected through the ERC funded Climate, Landscape, Settlement and Society (CLaSS) Project. This project aims to collect all archaeological settlement, zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical data available for the Fertile Crescent over the Holocene. Combining land use modelling with archaeologically derived evidence for past population and subsistence practices has significant interpretive potential. We illustrate this by presenting new results on the impact of the 4.2kya event, a period of drought associated by some with the collapse of the Akkadian empire and widespread population decline. We will also discuss preliminary work on long term trends in social complexity, productivity and resilience.