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African Archaeological Review

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 167–177 | Cite as

African Palaeoclimate and Human Response: A Special Issue of the African Archaeological Review

  • Roderick J. McIntoshEmail author
  • Jean Maley
  • Robert Vernet
Introduction

Abstract

Acknowledging the patchiness of palaeoclimatic data, as well as a new appreciation of how complex the forcing mechanisms of Africa’s climates are, it would be premature to propose a grand synthesis of the continent’s climatic backdrop to human history and prehistory. That said, this “state-of-the-art” sampler from several regions of Africa serves several purposes. Although chronological resolution—palaeoclimatic and archaeological—continues to improve, the warning “Causation, Correlation or Co-incidence” still very much applies to all exercises in explanation. Even in those cases of high-resolution climatic sequences, dating of the corresponding prehistoric sequence often proves disappointing. And lastly (ending on an optimistic note), each contribution to this special issue features one or more new techniques of climate data extraction that might usefully be applied continent-wide.

Keywords

Palaeoclimate Causation Correlation Chronological resolution Proxy data 

Résumé

Lorsqu’on considère l’éparpillement des données paléoenvironnementales, ainsi que l’état actuel de notre compréhension de la complexité des mécanismes de forçage des climats de l’Afrique, il serait prématuré de proposer une synthèse générale concernant l’impact des climats sur l’histoire et la préhistoire des Hommes. Bien que la résolution chronologique des données paléoenvironnementales et archéologiques continue de s’améliorer, il est cependant nécessaire d’indiquer que les explications présentées ici comme des « Causes, des Corrélations ou des Coincidences », ne sont encore actuellement que provisoires. De plus, même dans les cas où les séquences paléoenvironnementales utilisées sont datées en haute résolution, les séquences préhistoriques correspondantes présentent souvent des datations décevantes. Ceci dit, cet échantillon de l’état actuel des recherches effectuées dans plusieurs régions d’Afrique présente plusieurs buts car, en particulier pour terminer sur une note optimiste, chaque contribution à cette publication spéciale utilise une ou plusieurs nouvelles techniques pour extraire des données paléoenvironnementales ou paléoclimatiques qui pourraient être utilement appliquées à l’ensemble de ce continent.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roderick J. McIntosh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jean Maley
    • 2
  • Robert Vernet
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Université MonpellierMonpellierFrance
  3. 3.UMR 7194, Département Préhistoire du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle I.P.H.ParisFrance
  4. 4.Institut Mauritanien de Recherches ScientifiquesNouakchottMauritanie

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