Paper No. 145-7
Presentation Time: 9:35 AM
SYNCHRONISING LONG PALAEOCLIMATE ARCHIVES WITH ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORDS USING DISTAL TEPHRA, HIGHLIGHTS AND PROBLEMS FROM EUROPE, MEDITERRANEAN AND THE LEVANT (Invited Presentation)
The Mediterranean is an archaeologically important region from the Palaeolothic to recent prehistory. One important aspect of this has been the dispersal of humans across the region, for example dispersal out of Africa, and the later arrival of modern humans into Europe. Additionally, there has been significant interest in the climatic backdrop to human adaptation in the region. One issue, however, for many records is the chronological precision at which the archaeological and environmental record can be compared. This is especially the case close to and beyond the limit of radiocarbon dating, but depending on the question can also be an issue for more recent records. One approach that has been attempted for resolving these problems has been the application of tephrochronology, using distal volcanic ash layers as a dating and correlation tool between sites. The application of this technique across the region has been extended by the detection of layers not visible to the naked eye in some sites known as cryptotephra. This presentation will cover a personal perspective on the challenges and opportunities presented by tracing tephra into archaeological records and attempting to correlate them to known eruptions and to long palaeoclimate archives. In the presentation will discuss some of the key findings and advances from such an approach, based on established studies of tephra in Palaeolithic archaeological records. This will also include the development of a tephra lattice for the Mediterranean and my perspective on the current state of play in the region, including some of the challenges for moving into the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant. I will finally consider the potential to use this technique in later Mediterranean prehistory.