Farmers and Late Holocene Climate Change on the Edge of the Qinghai Plateau

Author(s): Elizabeth Berger; Hong Zhu

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Living and Dying in Mountain and Highland Landscapes" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In the late Holocene, a cooling and drying climate, greater intergroup contact, and increasing sociopolitical complexity prevailed across Eurasia. On the eastern edge of the Qinghai Plateau, at the edge of the East Asian summer monsoon zone, millet farming societies faced local, cyclical changes to moisture and vegetation between 3000 and 2000 BCE. This study examines human skeletal remains from three sites in the warm steppe zone around 2200 masl, to study the impact of the climate and social changes on human health and diet from the late Neolithic (2600-2000 BCE) to the middle Bronze Age (1500-1000 BCE). Changes in oral health are consistent with an increasingly diverse agropastoral subsistence system; osteoarthritis, frailty, and childhood growth disruptions remained constant; and non-specific markers of infection and childhood anemias declined. Biodistance analysis suggests that there was some population movement into the area from further north, though the populations in this study were still closely related. The flexibility of agropastoral food production, the introduction of new plant and animal species, and economic specialization at different altitudes could account for the apparent success of the people of the eastern Qinghai Plateau in adapting to late Holocene climate change.

Cite this Record

Farmers and Late Holocene Climate Change on the Edge of the Qinghai Plateau. Elizabeth Berger, Hong Zhu. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452169)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 70.4; min lat: 17.141 ; max long: 146.514; max lat: 53.956 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23418