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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: April 2011

6 - A review of palaeoclimates and palaeoenvironments in the Levant and Eastern Mediterranean from 25,000 to 5,000 years BP: setting the environmental background for the evolution of human civilisation

from Part II - The palaeoenvironmental record



The southern Levant has a long history of human habitation, and it has been previously suggested that climatic changes during the Late Pleistocene to Holocene stimulated changes in human behaviour and society. In order to evaluate such linkages it is necessary to have a detailed understanding of the climate record. We have conducted an extensive and up-to-date review of terrestrial and marine climatic conditions in the Levant and eastern Mediterranean during the past 25,000 years. We firstly present data from general circulation models (GCMs) simulating the climate for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), and evaluate the output of the model by reference to geological climate proxy data. We consider the types of climate data available from different environments and proxies and then present the spatial climatic ‘picture’ for key climatic events. This exercise suggests that the major Northern Hemisphere climatic fluctuations of the past 25,000 years are recorded in the eastern Mediterranean and Levantine region. However, this review also highlights problems and inadequacies with the existing data.


The effects of global climate change on human society, on the environments we inhabit and on the sustainable development of our planet's poorest people are of prime concern to all. Predicting changes in water availability, local environments and climates will be the key to determining which areas of the world will require greatest assistance in dealing with increased global warmth and climate change in the coming century, and beyond. However, the detailed linkages between the development of human civilisation, anthropogenic activities, climate and environmental change remain poorly understood.

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