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New data and a review of historiographic information from Neolithic sites of the Malaga and Algarve coasts (southern Iberian Peninsula) and from the Maghreb (North Africa) reveal the existence of a Neolithic settlement at least from 7.5 cal ka BP. The agricultural and pastoralist food producing economy of that population rapidly replaced the coastal economies of the Mesolithic populations. The timing of this population and economic turnover coincided with major changes in the continental and marine ecosystems, including upwelling intensity, sea-level changes and increased aridity in the Sahara and along the Iberian coast. These changes likely impacted the subsistence strategies of the Mesolithic populations along the Iberian seascapes and resulted in abandonments manifested as sedimentary hiatuses in some areas during the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition. The rapid expansion and area of dispersal of the early Neolithic traits suggest the use of marine technology. Different evidences for a Maghrebian origin for the first colonists have been summarized. The recognition of an early North-African Neolithic influence in Southern Iberia and the Maghreb is vital for understanding the appearance and development of the Neolithic in Western Europe. Our review suggests links between climate change, resource allocation, and population turnover.
Cyclostratigraphic analysis conducted on a continuous high-resolution marine record from the western most Mediterranean reveals well-identified paleoclimate cycles for the last 20,000 yr. The detrital proxies used (Si/Al, Ti/Al, Zr/Al, Mg/Al, K/Al, Rb/Al) are related to different sediment-transport mechanisms, including eolian dust and fluvial runoff, which involve fluctuations in the atmosphere–hydrosphere systems. These fluctuations are accompanied by changes in marine productivity (supported by Ba/Al) and bottom-water redox conditions (Cu/Al, V/Al, Zn/Al, Fe/Al, Mn/Al, U/Th). Spectral analysis conducted using the Lomb–Scargle periodogram and the achieved significance level implemented with the permutation test allowed us to establish major periodicities at 1300, 1515, 2000, and 5000 yr, and secondary peaks at 650, 1087, and 3000 yr. Some of these cycles also agree with those previously described in the North Atlantic Ocean and circum-Mediterranean records. The periodicities obtained at 2000 and 5000 yr support a global connection with records distributed at high, mid, and low latitudes associated with solar activity, monsoonal regime and orbital forcing. The 1300- and 1515-yr cycles appear to be linked with North Atlantic climate variability and the African monsoon system. Thus, the analyzed record provides evidence of climate cycles and plausible forcing mechanisms coupled with ocean–atmosphere fluctuations.
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