Natural and human controls of the Holocene evolution of the beach, aeolian sand and dunes of Caesarea (Israel)

J. Roskin, D. Sivan, G. Shtienberg, E. Roskin, N. Porat, R. Bookman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study focuses on the Holocene appearance, chronology and drivers of beach sand deposition and inland aeolian sand transport around the Roman-Byzantine ruins of Caesarea, Israel. Beach sand, sand sheets, nebkha, linear and transverse dunes as well as parabolic and transverse interdunes along two transects were sampled in the current study down to their substrate. Sixteen new optically stimulated luminescence ages cluster at ~5.9-3.3 ka, ~1.2-1.1 ka (800-900. AD) and ~190-120. years ago (1825-1895. AD) indicating times of middle and late Holocene sand sheet depositions and historical dune stabilization. The first age cluster indicates that beach sand accumulated when rates of global sea level rise declined around 6-5 ka. Until ~4. ka sand sheets encroached up to 2.5 km inland. Historical and archaeological evidence points to sand mobilization since the first century AD. Sand sheets dating to 1.2-1.1 ka, coevally found throughout the dunefield represent sand stabilization due to vegetation reestablishment attributed to gradual and fluctuating decline in human activity from the middle Early Islamic period until the 10th century. Historical and chronological evidence of the existence of transverse and coppice dunes from the 19th century suggest that dunes only formed in the last few centuries. The study illustrates the initial role of natural processes, in this case decline in global sea level rise and the primary and later role of fluctuating human activity upon coastal sand mobility. The study distinguishes between sand sheets and dunes and portrays them as sensors of environmental changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-85
Number of pages21
JournalAeolian Research
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Prof. Pua Bar (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) is warmly thanked for introducing J. Roskin to the Caesarea–Hadera dunes and their geo-botanic uniqueness. Vered Ziso-Cohen is thanked for conducting preliminary field work. Nimer Taha (Geo-Marine Sciences Sedimentological Laboratory, University of Haifa) is thanked for helping with the analyses. Itzhak Katra (Aeolian Simulation Laboratory, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) is warmly thanked for providing data from the calcimeter. Danielle Vital (Geo-Marine Sciences, University of Haifa) and Guy Sisma-Ventura (Maritime Civilizations Department, Charney School of Marine Sciences, University of Haifa), are commended for their manual and scholarly help in the field. Lea Romaniello (Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, University of Bari, Italy) is commended for initiating the preliminary OSL stage of this study. SEE Advanced Mapping and Solutions Ltd. are thanked for spatial data. The study is funded by an Israel Energy and Water office research grant. The associate editor Prof. Patrick A. Hesp and the reviewers are acknowledged for their positive and constructive comments. This paper is dedicated to Dr. Michael Roskin z”l (1940–2005), the late father of the author and late grandfather of the 3rd co-author, Eitam Roskin.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aeolian geoarchaeology
  • Beach-dune systems
  • Caesarea
  • Coastal dunes
  • OSL
  • Stratigraphy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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