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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Aug 28;115(35):8705-8709. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1803607115. Epub 2018 Aug 13.

Evidence for the impact of the 8.2-kyBP climate event on Near Eastern early farmers.

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Organic Geochemistry Unit, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, BS8 1TS Bristol, United Kingdom;
Institute of Archaeology, Adam Mickiewicz University, 61-614 Poznań, Poland.
School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, BS8 1SS Bristol, United Kingdom.
Institute of Geology, Adam Mickiewicz University, 61-680 Poznań, Poland.
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, University of Gdańsk, 80-851 Gdańsk, Poland.
School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, PL4 8AA Plymouth, United Kingdom.
Department of Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.
Organic Geochemistry Unit, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, BS8 1TS Bristol, United Kingdom.


The 8.2-thousand years B.P. event is evident in multiple proxy records across the globe, showing generally dry and cold conditions for ca. 160 years. Environmental changes around the event are mainly detected using geochemical or palynological analyses of ice cores, lacustrine, marine, and other sediments often distant from human settlements. The Late Neolithic excavated area of the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük East [Team Poznań (TP) area] was occupied for four centuries in the ninth and eighth millennia B.P., thus encompassing the 8.2-thousand years B.P. climatic event. A Bayesian analysis of 56 radiocarbon dates yielded a high-resolution chronological model comprising six building phases, with dates ranging from before 8325-8205 to 7925-7815 calibrated years (cal) B.P. Here, we correlate an onsite paleoclimate record constructed from δ2H values of lipid biomarkers preserved in pottery vessels recovered from these buildings with changes in architectural, archaeozoological, and consumption records from well-documented archaeological contexts. The overall sequence shows major changes in husbandry and consumption practices at ca. 8.2 thousand years B.P., synchronous with variations in the δ2H values of the animal fat residues. Changes in paleoclimate and archaeological records seem connected with the patterns of atmospheric precipitation during the occupation of the TP area predicted by climate modeling. Our multiproxy approach uses records derived directly from documented archaeological contexts. Through this, we provide compelling evidence for the specific impacts of the 8.2-thousand years B.P. climatic event on the economic and domestic activities of pioneer Neolithic farmers, influencing decisions relating to settlement planning and food procurement strategies.


animal bones; archaeology; climate; hydrogen isotopes; lipid residue analyses

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