Early- and middle-holocene wood exploitation in the Fayum basin, Egypt

Marston, John M., Holdaway, Simon J. and Wendrich, Willeke (2017) Early- and middle-holocene wood exploitation in the Fayum basin, Egypt. Holocene, 27 12: 1812-1824. doi:10.1177/0959683617708443


Author Marston, John M.
Holdaway, Simon J.
Wendrich, Willeke
Title Early- and middle-holocene wood exploitation in the Fayum basin, Egypt
Journal name Holocene   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1477-0911
0959-6836
Publication date 2017-12-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0959683617708443
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 27
Issue 12
Start page 1812
End page 1824
Total pages 13
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Abstract The early and middle Holocene of North Africa was a time of dramatic climatic and social change, including rapid shifts in vegetation communities and the introduction of domesticated plants and animals. Recent research from the Fayum basin of Egypt, which holds archaeological evidence for early use of domesticates, aims to place inhabitants of that region within their contemporary environmental setting. We present here results of wood charcoal analysis from three early- and middle-Holocene deposits on the north shore of the Fayum and reconstruct both contemporary woodland ecology and patterns of anthropogenic wood use. In total, three woodland communities likely existed in the area, but inhabitants of this region made heavy use of only the local lakeshore woodland, emphasizing tamarisk (Tamarix sp.) for fuel. While seasonally watered wadi woodlands were not harvested for fuel, more arid locations on the landscape were, evidencing regional mobility between ecological zones. Results indicate that wood was locally abundant and that inhabitants were able to select only preferred species for fuel. This study provides further evidence for low-level food production in the Fayum that preserved critical ecosystem services, rather than dramatic niche construction to promote agriculture as seen elsewhere in middle-Holocene Southwest Asia.
Formatted abstract
The early and middle Holocene of North Africa was a time of dramatic climatic and social change, including rapid shifts in vegetation communities and the introduction of domesticated plants and animals. Recent research from the Fayum basin of Egypt, which holds archaeological evidence for early use of domesticates, aims to place inhabitants of that region within their contemporary environmental setting. We present here results of wood charcoal analysis from three early- and middle-Holocene deposits on the north shore of the Fayum and reconstruct both contemporary woodland ecology and patterns of anthropogenic wood use. In total, three woodland communities likely existed in the area, but inhabitants of this region made heavy use of only the local lakeshore woodland, emphasizing tamarisk (Tamarix sp.) for fuel. While seasonally watered wadi woodlands were not harvested for fuel, more arid locations on the landscape were, evidencing regional mobility between ecological zones. Results indicate that wood was locally abundant and that inhabitants were able to select only preferred species for fuel. This study provides further evidence for low-level food production in the Fayum that preserved critical ecosystem services, rather than dramatic niche construction to promote agriculture as seen elsewhere in middle-Holocene Southwest Asia.
Keyword Anthracology
Charcoal analysis
Early Holocene
Egypt
Fayum
Middle Holocene
Wood use
Woodland ecology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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Created: Thu, 05 Apr 2018, 22:26:59 EST