segunda-feira, 5 de março de 2012

Climate change, adaptive cycles, and the persistence of foraging economies during the late Pleistocene/ Holocene transition in the Levant

Arlene M. Rosen a,1 and Isabel Rivera-Collazo a,b,2
a Institute of Archaeology, University College London, London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom
b Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico 009

Climatic forcing during the Younger Dryas (∼12.9–11.5 ky B.P.) event has become the theoretical basis to explain the origins of agricultural lifestyles in the Levant by suggesting a failure of foraging societies to adjust. This explanation however, does not fit the scarcity of data for predomestication cultivation in the Natufian Period. The resilience of Younger Dryas foragers is better illustrated by a concept of adaptive cycles within a theory of adaptive change (resilience theory). Such cycles consist of four phases: release/collapse (Ω); reorganization (α), when the system restructures itself after a catastrophic stimulus through innovation and social memory—a period of greater resilience and less vulnerability; exploitation (r); and conservation (K), representing an increasingly rigid system that loses flexibility to change. The Kebarans and Late Natufians had similar responses to cold and dry conditions vs. Early Natufians and the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A responses to warm and wet climates. Kebarans and Late Natufians (α-phase) shifted to a broader-based diet and increased their mobility. Early Natufian and Pre-Pottery Neolithic A populations (r- and K-phases) had a growing investment in more narrowly focused, high-yield plant resources, but they maintained the broad range of hunted animals because of increased sedentism. These human adaptive cycles interlocked with plant and animal cycles. Forest and grassland vegetation responded to late Pleistocene and early Holocene climatic fluctuations, but prey animal cycles reflected the impact of human hunting pressure. The combination of these three adaptive cycles results in a model of human adaptation, showing potential for great sustainability of Levantine foraging systems even under adverse climatic conditions.

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