2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 12-8
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM



, bulent.arikan@gmail.com

Arslantepe, situated in Malatya Plain, was a late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age (ca. 5,750 – 3,950 BP) settlement in eastern Anatolia that showed the earliest signs of state formation in the Hilly Flanks of Mesopotamia. The site provided wealth of paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental data about this critical transition from early to middle Holocene. During the late Chalcolithic period, following the onset of arid and climatically unstable phase after 5,150 BP, the land cover of Malatya Plain changed from semi–open coniferous forest to open grassland. Based on the hydrophilous plants recovered from the site it is suggested that the riparian environment around the settlement was preserved. The continuous increase in hygrophilous non–arboreal plants at the site around 4,950 BP indicated that the riparian environment around the site was replaced by a woodland steppe. Concurrent with these environmental transformations, the economy and social organization at Arslantepe changed. The late Chalcolithic society relied on intensive irrigation agriculture of six-row barley while developing a redistributive economy under the elite that lived in palaces. With the start of the Early Bronze Age however, the site functioned as a seasonal settlement where site–tethered agropastoralism emerged as the main economy.

In my paper, I will first discuss the results of Macrophysical Climate Model, which was used to quantify the spatio–temporal changes in the crucial climatic variables. I will then present the preliminary results of spatial modeling of the landscape evolution and land use. The first model will focus on the changes in the scale and magnitude of surface processes under progressively arid conditions. The land use model will focus on how increasing pastoralism impacted the land cover of the Plain during the Early Bronze Age. Paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic data from Arslantepe will allow us to develop a more complete understanding of dynamic, complex, and non–linear human–environment relationships at the site, which is an ideal ”natural laboratory” of diverse human behavior in the long-term. While this framework will provide a replicable model of interdisciplinary research at archaeological sites with paleoenvironmental data, it will also expand our perspective on the coupled socio–ecological systems.