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HUMAN RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE LATE PREHISTORIC WESTERN LOESS PLATEAU, NORTHWEST CHINA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2020

Tingting Chen
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental System, College of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
Menghan Qiu
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental System, College of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
Ruiliang Liu*
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, OxfordOX1 3TG, United Kingdom
Haiming Li
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental System, College of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
Hongwei Hou
Affiliation:
Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Lanzhou, 730000, China
Philly Howarth
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, OxfordOX1 3TG, United Kingdom
Samantha Bowring
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, OxfordOX1 3TG, United Kingdom
Aifeng Zhou*
Affiliation:
MOE Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental System, College of Earth & Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China
*
*Corresponding authors. Emails: ruiliang.liu@arch.ox.ac.uk; zhouaf@lzu.edu.cn.
*Corresponding authors. Emails: ruiliang.liu@arch.ox.ac.uk; zhouaf@lzu.edu.cn.

Abstract

In order to assess late prehistoric human responses to climate change in the Western Loess Plateau (WLP), we investigated 13,567 charred plant seeds and 19 radiocarbon (14C) dates obtained from 41 late prehistoric sites in the upper Wei River valley. Based on these new dating results as well as their cultural attributes, these sites could be confidently divided into four chronological phases (Phase 1: Late Yangshao and Majiayao culture; Phase 2: Qijia culture; Phases 3 and 4: Siwa culture) but a significant gap was identified at ca. 3600–3000 cal yr BP in this region. Comparison of this interval to high-resolution paleoclimate records from Tianchi Lake suggests it could be attributed to the dramatic drop in temperature at this time. Accordingly, archaeobotanical evidence with a refined chronology shows the adoption of cold-tolerant subsistence cereal grains such as barley on the NETP (Northeast Tibetan Plateau). Drawing from various lines of knowledge (chronology, palaeoclimate, archaeobotany, and archaeology), it is reasonable to conclude that, even when confronting a similar magnitude of climate change, local human societies could vary tremendously. Different subsistence strategies were brought in by the trans-Eurasia culture exchange of prehistoric times.

Type
Research Article
Information
Radiocarbon , Volume 62 , Issue 5 , October 2020 , pp. 1193 - 1207
Copyright
© 2020 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona

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