Paleoenvironments and Prehistory in the Holocene of SE Arabia

  • Andrew S. GoudieEmail author
  • Adrian G. Parker


There are many examples of the effects of climate change on human societies evident during the Holocene, not least in West Asia (Staubwasser and Weiss 2006). For example, the 8200 cal. year climate event may have forced abandonment of agricultural settlements in northern Mesopotamia and the Levant (Anderson et al. 2007). Conversely, the ‘Greening of the Sahara’ in the early to mid-Holocene, may have led to an explosion of activity by Neolithic peoples (Petit-Maire et al. 1999). From around 6000 cal. year BP a reduction of rainfall and of monsoonal strength in North Africa, the Near East and Arabia could have forced people out of the deserts into more favorable environments. Around 5200 cal. year BP (Parker et al. 2006a, b; Staubwasser and Weiss 2006) a rapid drying and cooling event in the Middle East may have led to the collapse of the Uruk Culture in southern Mesopotamia. Wright (2001, pp. 145–146) sees this as a period of “differential growth, accelerated inter-regional conflict, the emergence of large polities and their collapse”. Around 4200–4100 BP another sharp climatic deterioration may also have caused severe problems for many urban centers (Staubwasser et al. 2003). In general, agricultural intensification and domestication may have been stimulated by episodes of increased aridity (Sherratt 1997) and there was an association in the mid-Holocene between desiccation and increasing social complexity in the central Sahara and Egypt (Brooks 2006).


Last Glacial Maximum Optically Stimulate Luminescence Mountain Front Dune Field Younger Dryas 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St Cross College, St GilesOxfordUK

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