Dirt, dynasties, and devastation in North China: Geoarchaeological perspectives from the Luoyang Basin

Author(s): Michael Storozum; Yifei Zhang; Ren Xiaolin

Year: 2017


Anthropogenic disturbance of alluvial systems is increasingly influential through time, but the interplay of climatic systems and basin hydrology complicate attempts to fingerprint how humans influence these systems. We evaluate the importance of climate change, fluvial dynamics, and anthropogenic environmental modification in forming the Holocene sedimentary record of the Luoyang Basin, a tributary of the Yellow River, located in western Henan Province, China. Our fieldwork indicates that an un-conformity found within the basin is roughly coincident with a major, human-caused, change in the lower course of the Yellow River in AD 1128. For the first time in the late Holocene, the Yellow River took a southern course, flowing out to the Yellow Sea. This course change not only had dramatic environmental consequences for the lower Yellow River valley, but may have also changed the fluvial dynamics of upstream tributary basins, such as the Luoyang Basin, from aggradation to incision, potentially destabilizing the area for hundreds of years. Although many paleo-environmental studies imply that anthropogenic environmental change is a gradual process involving climate and environmental change. This study demonstrates that historically contingent decisions of human agents can result in sudden, long-lasting, environmental impacts.

Cite this Record

Dirt, dynasties, and devastation in North China: Geoarchaeological perspectives from the Luoyang Basin. Michael Storozum, Yifei Zhang, Ren Xiaolin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429236)

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Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 17029