Increased sedimentation following the Neolithic Revolution in the Southern Levant

Yin Lu, Nicolas Waldmann, Dani Nadel, Shmuel Marco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Dead Sea drainage basin offers a rare combination of well-documented substantial climate change, intense tectonics and abundant archaeological evidence for past human activity in the Southern Levant. It serves as a natural laboratory for understanding how sedimentation rates in a deep basin are related to climate change, tectonics, and anthropogenic impacts on the landscape. Here we show how basin-wide erosion rates are recorded by thicknesses of rhythmic detritus laminae and clastic sediment accumulation rates in a long core retrieved by the Dead Sea Deep Drilling Project in the Dead Sea depocenter. During the last ~ 11.5 kyr the average detrital accumulation rate is ~ 3‐4 times that during the last two glacial cycles (MIS 7c-2), and the average thickness of detritus laminae in the last ~ 11.6 kyr is ~ 4.5 times that between ~ 21.7 and 11.6 ka, implying an increased erosion rate on the surrounding slopes during the Holocene. We estimate that this intensified erosion is incompatible with tectonic and climatic regimes during the corresponding time interval and further propose a close association with the Neolithic Revolution in the Levant (beginning at ~ 11.5 ka). We thus suggest that human impact on the landscape was the primary driver causing the intensified erosion and that the Dead Sea sedimentary record serves as a reliable recorder of this impact since the Neolithic Revolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-208
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
StatePublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Dead Sea
  • Human impact
  • Lacustrine sedimentation
  • Landscape
  • Surface erosion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Oceanography


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