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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: June 2016

25 - Landscape–climate–human relations in the Quaternary of southern Africa



The triad of landscape–climate–human relationships provides a secure context or interpretive framework for understanding not only the macroscale landscape development of southern Africa during the Quaternary, as reflected in the geomorphological and sedimentary record, but also those patterns and processes of human physical evolution and behaviour that took place within that landscape, as reflected in the fossil, archaeological and palaeoanthropological records. In this chapter, we reflect upon the complexity of such relationships, and the limitations on our current understanding, which is based on studies that are inevitably grounded in a narrow spatial and temporal context. To remedy this situation, we propose a more explicitly integrated landscape–climate–human approach to Quaternary studies in southern Africa, which may yield a better understanding of the sensitivity of landscapes and human activity to future climate and environmental changes in the Anthropocene. This in turn should lead us to a more realistic reconstruction of the many-faceted variables of our southern African collective past.

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