, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 33-40
Date: 22 Feb 2013

Climate, human palaeoecology and the use of fuel in Wadi Sana, Southern Yemen

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Abstract

This study integrates analysis of wood charcoal assemblages with climate proxies, palaeoenvironmental and archaeological data sets in hyper-arid Wadi Sana, Yemen, to address the availability and use of wood fuels by South Arabian hunter-herder groups from the Early Holocene (8000–7700 cal. b.p.) to Middle Holocene (6900–4800 cal. b.p.) periods. The Early Holocene environment, regulated by a stronger Southwest Asian monsoon, was moister than the present, providing a marshy winter grazing area for cattle herders, whose construction of hearths and food preparation strategies changed over time. This study provides an insight into long term stability of land cover and use as well as the dynamics of human contributions to landscape change. We suggest that complex environmental and cultural processes affect species availability, fuel choice and land use management. Despite environmental and economic changes in Wadi Sana, our dataset does not show changes in fuel choice from the Early to Middle Holocene.

Communicated by G. Willcox.