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The Holocene: An Environmental History


Completely revised and updated, the new edition of this established text provides readers with a coherent scientific account of the great transformation of nature which took place during the last 10,000 years in the history of the planet, and the post-glacial period in which we are now living. It now includes substantial material on environmental and climate changes. Illustrations. Photos.
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The Holocene: An Environmental History

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Completely revised and updated, the new edition of this established text provides readers with a coherent scientific account of the great transformation of nature which took place during the last 10,000 years in the history of the planet, and the post-glacial period in which we are now living. It now includes substantial material on environmental and climate changes. Illustrations. Photos.
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Editorial Reviews

Draws on both the natural and human sciences. Written for undergraduate students in geography, archaeology, environmental science and ecology. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"By comprehensively covering the interaction between the human and natural environment over the last 11,500 years, Neil Roberts has provided a stimulating and entertaining overview of an important topic which will prove useful to the lay-person as well as the experienced geographer. This is a book that is not only technically good, it is also extremely readable. I thoroughly recommend it, not only to those with a special interest in the Quaternary, but to all with a general interest in either natural science or human history." James Shulmeister, Victoria University of Wellington

"Neil Roberts' book on the Holocene is already a classic. All the additions and changes of the second edition may be sumarized as positive improvements to what was already an excellent book. Most importantly, the science has been updated without changing its distinctive character. At the same time, the book has been brightened up, which makes it all the more attractive to handle and read. More power to Neil Roberts' already considerable elbow as he takes up the Chair in Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth!" John Matthews, The Holocene

"Roberts, by background a geographer, has obviously immersed himself in the other disciplines, and he has turned out a wonderful and very up-to-date synthesis of the present state of knowledge about the history of the Holocene. Although this is the second edition. It is in many places a complete rewrite of the original, integrating most of the new discoveries and reinterpretations in this field. One of the surprising pleasures is that the author combines excellent scholarship with a very enjoyable writing style. For those who wish to learn more, the 48-page bibliography is a comprehensive source to the relevant primary literature. Highly recommended to general readers and students and scholars at all levels." C. W. Dimmick, Central Connecticut State University

"Here is a book at once erudite and understandable (there is a helpful glossary, a thorough bibliography and an appendix concerning radiocarbon ages), necessary reading for students, and those with an interest in our hapless history." Ecology

"As a readable and attractive introduction suitable for non-specialists, illustrated with a good selection of colour photographs and some excellent diagrams and maps, The Holocene should attract a wide readership." Danny Yee, University of Sydney

"This text, now as a second edition, is without doubt one of the finest efforts to comprehensively examine the earth's changing surface over the past 15,000 years. Above all what is learned from The Holoceneis that change frequently is revolutionary not evolutionary. The 10,000-year perspective provides stimulating and fascinating reading for all environmental professionals." Constantine N. Raphael, Eastern Michigan University

"With its global coverage, The Holocene provides an excellent introduction to the late Quaternary. I have used the new edition, and previously the first edition, to launch an upper-level seminar in paleoecology and paleoclimatology. The students enjoy the broad overview that it gives with abundant mention of human activities. With over 900 references of which a third are from the 1990s, the book gives readers a good sense of the vast literature available; and, with further updating from GeoRef and other on-line sources, readers can investigate research topics with a sense of the many issues involved."Thompson Webb III, Brown University

"The first edition was comprehensive and well received, and this edition builds on that basis, employing many of these recent advances to refine and expand the picture Roberts painted in the first edition." Peter Gell, University of Adelaide

"The attraction of the book lies in its geographical scope and the reader is treated to well illustrated examples from the Near East, North and Meso America, and South East Asia, drawing upon the author's research experience. His enthusiasm for his subject is conveyed in a lucid and lively text and in his catholic interests." Scottish Geographical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118712573
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/10/2014
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Roberts is Professor at the University of Plymouth. His main research interests are in Holocene environmental change, especially the lake sediment record of climate and human impact in low latitude regions such as East Africa and the Mediterranean. His previous books include The Changing Global Environment (Blackwell Publishers, 1994) and Ecological Relations in Historical Times (with Robin Butlin, Blackwell Publishers, 1995).

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Table of Contents

List of Technical Boxes
Preface to the Second Edition
1 Introduction 1
2 Reconstructing Holocene Environments 8
Dating the Past 9
Palaeoecological Techniques 28
Geological Techniques 40
Models of Environmental Reconstruction 51
3 The Pleistocene Prelude (>11,500 Cal. yr BP) 55
Ice-age Environments 56
The Terminal Pleistocene (16,000-11,500 Cal. yr BP) 68
Human Ecology at the End of the Pleistocene 78
4 Early Holocene Adaptations (11,500-5000 Cal. yr BP) 87
Changes in the Physical Environment 88
The Return of the Forests 99
The Ecology of Mesolithic Europe 109
The Early Holocene in the Tropics 112
Early Holocene Climates: Pattern and Process 117
5 The First Farmers 127
Agricultural Origins 128
The Role of Environmental Change in Early Agriculture 142
Early Agricultural Impacts 150
6 The Taming of Nature (5000-500 Cal. yr BP) 159
Changes in the Natural Environment 162
Cultural Evolution 171
Expansion at the Periphery 179
Mediterranean Ecosystems 186
The Making of the Landscape: the British Isles 192
7 The Impact of Modern Times (500-0 Cal. yr BP) 207
Climatic Changes in Historical Times 212
Land-use History and Soil Erosion 216
Pollution Histories 227
8 The Environmental Future: A Holocene Perspective 243
Holocene Environmental Crises 247
Environmental Conservation and Holocene History 249
Appendix Calibration Table for Radiocarbon Ages 253
Glossary 254
Bibliography 258
Index 305
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