Pollen-interpreted palaeoenvironments associated with the Middle and Late Pleistocene peopling of southern Africa

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An investigation of the vegetation and climate from the Middle Pleistocene until the end of the LatePleistocene reveals a plethora of terrestrial and marine biological, geological and archaeological evidencefor marked and complex climate cycles of change, which reflect on past circulation patterns. Whileacknowledging the usefulness of diverse proxies for detecting these changes, an efficient way to sum-marize past events is to focus on one of them, viz. fossil pollen, which, although providing scattered andincomplete records, gives fairly direct reflections of past climates and vegetation growth. The findings arestructured according to six subregions and reveal distinct changes in temperature and moisture patterns,e.g. during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the Younger Dryas. The data suggest an environmentalbackground against which cultural evolution took place, e.g., the appearance of Fauresmith, Still Bay,Howiesons Poort and Later Stone Age lithic industries. The pollen archives can be associated with globalclimate changes, as recorded in isotopes in marine sequences (Marine Isotope Stages or MISs). The ob-servations show differences between regions, which can serve as a base for improving palaeo-data toeventually simulate past and future climates and to better understand the role of past global climates inrelation to human and animal occupation in Southern Africa. Keywords: Pollen analysis, limate change, pleistocene, marine isotope stages, stone age environments.

Publication Title:

Quaternary International

Item Type:
Journal Article