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Learning From Scratch What The Environments Were Like As The Complexities Of Societies Changed In Eastern Tigrai

Author(s): Valery Terwilliger ; Marilyn Fogel ; W. Paul Adderley ; Zewdu Eshetu ; A. Catherine D'Andrea

Year: 2017

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Home to Aksum and other highly-developed polities, the Tigrai Plateau is a leading contender for sub-Saharan Africa's richest center of ancient state formation. This and its susceptibility to environmental (climate and land cover) variation make the region compelling for evaluating whether environmental changes affected the trajectories of polities. Soils exposed by gullying are the longest continuous archives of environmental proxies in the region. Many proxies are affected by both climate and land cover. Results indicate that stable hydrogen isotopic (δ2H) analyses of specific land-plant derived n-alkanoic acid (n-alk) molecules in soil organic matter are most affected by precipitation. Furthermore, the rainfall inferences from δ2H n-alk values can clarify whether changes in other proxies were due to climate or land cover. Our isotopic, elemental, and micromorphological analyses of gully soils suggest that Pre-Aksumite and Aksumite polities emerged during wetter intervals but that anthropogenic influences on land cover may have been very different during each period. Our present challenge is to understand possible relationships between the complexity of settlements and their immediate environments. To meet this challenge, we are building local records of environmental change and coupling them to the emerging archaeological record of settlement characteristics in Mezber and Ona Adi.

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Learning From Scratch What The Environments Were Like As The Complexities Of Societies Changed In Eastern Tigrai. Valery Terwilliger, Marilyn Fogel, W. Paul Adderley, Zewdu Eshetu, A. Catherine D'Andrea. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430982)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15296

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America