Extreme weather events and 10,000 years of land-use change in the Gediz River valley


We analyze long-term community responses to extreme weather events in the Gediz River valley of western Anatolia. Today, as in antiquity, the valley is one of the most agriculturally productive in Turkey, and its agroecosystem is well-adapted to the seasonal variability of its Mediterranean environment. Nevertheless — and in spite of modern water-management infrastructure — unpredictable droughts, storms, and floods can still devastate the region’s food production. How were the valley’s ancient inhabitants able to sustain themselves, and even flourish, in the face of such risks?

To answer this question, we draw on diverse lines of evidence — including aerial imagery, oral histories, early traveler accounts, municipal records, engineering reports, paleo-environmental data, and global climate models — to reconstruct the frequency and severity of droughts, storms, and floods in the valley over the past 10,000. We then couple these reconstructions with simple computational models of agricultural production and land-use change in the valley, and test the results against data from 10 years of intensive surface survey conducted by the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey. We argue that the flexibility of small-scale agropastoral production and transhumant pastoralist networks is the key to long-term, sustainable settlement in the valley.

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Cite this Record

Extreme weather events and 10,000 years of land-use change in the Gediz River valley. Nicolas Gauthier, Christina Luke, Christopher Roosevelt. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396681)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;