The Past as a Key for the Future: Mutual Dependencies of Land Use, Soil Development, Climate and Settlement

  • Ziad al-Saad
  • Bernhard Lucke
  • Michael Schmidt
  • Rupert Bäumler


It is of high actual importance to clarify historic climate variations and their impact, because it is not possible to predict future developments and their drivers, unless those of the past are understood. The Decapolis area in northern Jordan provides excellent opportunities to analyze this question. Environmental change as a result either or of human activities or of climate variation could have been responsible for the abandonment of the area by Arab farmers in medieval times. Recent studies let the climatic changes are the more likely reason. There are several arguments for this conclusion: Climatic models match very well to the historical development. The Arab farmers were also highly skilled. Our investigations revealed a very heterogeneous land use and soil development pattern, and found no evidence for a sudden, widespread general erosion event. In contrast, relic surfaces and the soil’s genesis point to moister conditions in the past and differences in the soil’s development point to diverse land use intensities. Though it is evident that land use changed the character of the landscape and can be tracked according to soil development, it did not lead to advancement of the desert. It therefore seems that desertification is related to climate change.


Climate change historic land use impact of global warming settlement history soil erosion soil properties 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ziad al-Saad
    • 1
  • Bernhard Lucke
    • 2
  • Michael Schmidt
    • 2
  • Rupert Bäumler
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Archaeology and AnthropologyYarmouk UniversityIrbidJordan
  2. 2.Brandenburg University of Technology CottbusCottbus
  3. 3.Institute of GeographyFriedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-NürnbergErlangen

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