Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 4:25 PM
CLIMATIC FLUCTUATIONS AND HUMAN SETTLEMENT IN THE KHABUR DRAINAGE, NORTHEAST SYRIA
Currently the breadbasket of Syria, owing to massive use of irrigation and mechanization of agriculture, over the millennia the Khabur basin has repeatedly been virtually abandoned by human settlements. This region of northeast Syria has low precipitation with a strong latitudinal gradient and high interannual variability that make rain-fed agriculture problematic over much of the drainage. Even minor but persistent climate changes in this sensitive region, such as have occurred repeatedly in the past, can have dire consequences for agriculture. Fluctuations in precipitation are inferred from the presence, distribution and size of settlements over some 9000 years, and verified by proxy climate data from the region and climate models. A settlement periodicity of ca. 1000-1500 years, with declining amplitude to the present, has been detected in the marginal zone of the Khabur. These fluctuations correspond with global and regional climate and environmental changes as well as with the regional archaeological record.