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Archaeological insights into the 8.2 ka event

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Greenland ice cores show a sharp decrease in oxygen isotope ratios and ice accumulation rates at 8.2 ka BP which persisted for c. 150 years (Dansgard et al., 1993; Grootes et al., 1993; Alley et al., 1997). Marine, ice and terrestrial proxy records from the Atlantic high and mid-latitudes, appear to consistently record a sharp change to colder, drier and possibly windier climatic conditions at this time (Pross et al., 2009).

The 8.2 ka event is a significant marker in palaeoclimatic studies, being identifiable in so many northern hemispheric records and recently posited as an official boundary marker dividing the Early and Mid-Holocene periods (Walker et al. 2012). Officially dividing the Holocene at the 8.2 ka event may be useful for archaeologists. Many archaeological records in Europe and south-west Asia show very clear technological, cultural and subsistence changes dating to the Early to Mid-Holocene transition, approximately 8000 years ago (e.g. Horn et al., 2015) but resolution issues frequently prohibit the identification of human responses in direct relation to the 8.2ka event. Recent advances in radiocarbon dating are now enabling archaeologists to better evaluate the role of the 8.2 ka event in cultural evolution occurring at this time (e.g. Flohr et al., 2016).

This talk is part of the Quaternary Discussion Group (QDG) series.

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