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Oxford University (2007)

Reconstructing Vegetation Dynamics from Archaeological Cave Sites in the Western Mediterranean : Links with Climate and Cultural Changes

Ward, Steven

Titre : Reconstructing Vegetation Dynamics from Archaeological Cave Sites in the Western Mediterranean : Links with Climate and Cultural Changes

Auteur : Ward, Steven

Université de soutenance : Oxford University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) : 2007

Résumé
Aim : This thesis reconstructs vegetation dynamics at four key cave sites in the Western Mediterranean region (Taforalt Cave and Rhafas Cave in north-east Morocco, and Gorham’s Cave and Vanguard Cave in Gibraltar), spanning the Last Interglacial-Glacial Period (c.130-13ka BP). Furthermore, it tests the hypothesis that climatic forcing played major role in cultural transitions and possibly human extinction in the Late Pleistocene. Location : North-east Morocco and Gibraltar. Methods : Macroscopic charcoal, phytoliths, and charred seeds were analysed using qualitative and quantitative statistical methods. These were compared at intra-site, inter-site and inter-regional scales. Results : Results from north-east Morocco (spanning c.125- f3ka BP) suggest that local vegetation shifted on numerous occasions over the Last Glacial Period. MIS 5d-a and MIS4 vegetation was characterised by a decline in temperate Quercus deciduous and expansion in cool Cedrus atlantica, while MIS 3 and MIS 2 vegetation was largely dominated by Juniperus sp.lTetraclinis articulata, with phases of ecological stress characterised by the expansion of Pinus halepensis and Quercus evergreen. C3 grasses were dominant throughout the record. In contrast, results from Gibraltar (intermittently spanning c.130-25ka BP) showed no significant changes in vegetation dynamics during this period, with (Q) vegetation dominated by Pinus pinea, with lesser frequencies of Pistacia sp., Juniperus sp., and Quercus sp. Main conclusions : This thesis provides the first evidence of Last InterglacialGlacial vegetation dynamics in north-east Morocco and Gibraltar. Results from Morocco seem to show a good association with proposed climatic variations during this time interval, while specific vegetation shifts were also broadly synchronous with cultural transitions. In contrast, the Gibraltar record suggests that vegetation remained quite stable throughout the Last Glacial Period. As such, this thesis supports the suggestion that Gibraltar was an environmental refuge during the Last Glacial Period.

Présentation : EThOS (UK)

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