Red Sea Palaeoclimate: Stable Isotope and Element-Ratio Analysis of Marine Mollusc Shells

  • Niklas Hausmann
  • Olga Kokkinaki
  • Melanie J. Leng


The southern Red Sea coast is the location of more than 4,200 archaeological shell midden sites. These shell middens preserve archaeological and climatic archives of unprecedented resolution and scale. By using shells from these contexts, it is possible to link past environmental information with episodes of human occupation and resource processing. This chapter summarises current knowledge about the marine gastropod Conomurex fasciatus (Born 1778) and discusses its use in environmental and climatic reconstruction using stable isotope and elemental ratio analysis. It offers a review of the most recent studies of shell midden sites on the Farasan Islands, their regional importance during the mid-Holocene, theories about seasonal use of the coastal landscape, and preliminary results from new methods to acquire large climatic datasets from C. fasciatus shells.



We greatly thank Najeeb Rasul for organising the meeting in Jeddah and for his help with the publication of this chapter. Research on the Farasan Islands has been made possible through the support and collaboration of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), in particular its President, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin AbdulAziz al Saud, Professor Ali Al-Ghassan, and Jamal Omar. Underwater work on modern shells has been supported by permits from the Department of General Survey of the Ministry of Defense. The work has been supported by grants from the European Research Council (Advanced Grant 269586 DISPERSE under the ‘Ideas’ Specific Programme of FP7), and EU Marie-Curie Action, “Intra-European Fellowships for Career Development’’ (Archaeological and climatic data from elemental ratios using rapid analysis of shell carbonate—ACCELERATE) “Grant Agreement No. 703625”. The research has greatly benefited from comments and discussions with Geoff Bailey, Robyn Inglis, Matthew Meredith-Williams, Harry Robson, Andre Colonese, Demetrios Anglos, Panayiotis Siozos and Costas Fotakis. This is DISPERSE contribution no. 38.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niklas Hausmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Olga Kokkinaki
    • 2
  • Melanie J. Leng
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Foundation for Research and Technology—HellasInstitute of Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL)HeraklionGreece
  2. 2.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  3. 3.NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities, British Geological SurveyNottinghamUK
  4. 4.Centre for Environmental GeochemistryUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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