Title

Scales of Impact: Settlement History and Landscape Change in the Gordion Region, Central Anatolia

Publication Date

2014

Journal

Holocene

Volume

24

Issue

6

First Page

689

Last Page

701

Abstract

The expansion of agriculture in the Near East during the middle Holocene significantly altered the physical landscape. However, the relationship between the scale of agriculture and the magnitude and timing of the environmental impacts is not well known. The Gordion Regional Survey provides a novel dataset to compare settlement density during archaeological periods to rates of environmental disruption. Sediment samples from alluvial cores directly date the environmental disruption, which can be matched to period-specific settlement intensities in the watershed as constructed from archaeological survey ceramics. Degradation rates rose sharply within a millennium of the earliest Chalcolithic occupation. Early Bronze Age (EBA) land use induced the greatest rates of environmental degradation, although settlement density was relatively low on the landscape. The degradation rate subsequently decreased to one-third its early peak by the Iron Age, even as settlement intensity climbed. This trajectory reveals how complex interaction effects can amplify or subdue the responses of the landscape-land use system. Prior to settlement, landscape soil reservoirs were highly vulnerable, easily tipped by early agricultural expansion. Subsequent reduced rates of erosion are tied both to changes in sociopolitical organization and to depletion of the vulnerable soil supply.

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