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The Holocene: An Environmental History / Edition 2

The Holocene: An Environmental History / Edition 2

by Neil Roberts


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780631186380
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 06/28/1998
Edition description: REV
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Neil Roberts is Professor of Geography at Plymouth University in the UK and has been Visiting Senior Researcher at Stanford University, CA. His main research interests are in Holocene environmental change, especially lake sediment records of climate and human impact in Mediterranean regions. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and served on the US National Academies Committee on climate changes of the last 2,000 Years.

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Table of Contents

Technical boxes viii

Preface to the third edition ix

Acknowledgements xi

About the companion website xii

1 Introduction 1

Sources of information on past environments 2

Nature and society 5

The significance of the Holocene 6

References 7

2 Reconstructing Holocene environments 10

Dating the past 10

Historical and archaeological dating 11

Radiometric dating methods 13

Dendrochronology and radiocarbon calibration 19

Other dating methods 25

Conclusion 28

Palaeoecological techniques 32

Pollen analysis 33

Plant remains 40

Creatures great and small 44

Freshwater and marine organisms 46

Geological techniques 47

Ice and ocean 51

Stable isotope analysis 53

Geomorphology and climate 55

Geo-archaeology 59

Modelling the past 61

Models of environmental reconstruction 61

Computer model simulations 64

Conclusion 66

References 66

3 The Pleistocene prelude (>11 700 Cal. yr bp) 83

Ice Age environments 83

The glacial–interglacial cycle 83

Understanding the causes of long-term climatic change 88

The Last Glacial Maximum and after 92

The terminal Pleistocene (15 000–11 700 Cal. yr bp) 96

The Late Glacial in the North Atlantic region 96

Terminal Pleistocene climatic oscillation: a globally synchronous event? 102

Adjustment of geomorphic systems 105

Human ecology at the end of the Pleistocene 107

Megafaunal extinctions 110

References 115

4 Early Holocene adaptations (11 700–6000 Cal. yr bp) 128

Changes in the physical environment 128

Ice sheets and sea levels 128

Human adaptations to coastal environments 131

Lake ontogeny and soil development 135

The return of the forests 140

Europe 140

Eastern North America 142

Dry Mediterranean woodland 144

Tropical forests 145

Factors affecting forest re-advance 146

The ecology of Mesolithic Europe 151

The early Holocene in the tropics 154

Saharan palaeoecology 155

Early Holocene climates: Pattern and process 158

Conclusion 165

References 167

5 The first farmers 178

Agricultural origins 178

Southwest Asia 179

China and South Asia 184

Mesoamerica 186

Tropical domesticates 190

Independent innovation or diffusion? 193

The role of environmental change in early agriculture 194

Early agricultural impacts 199

European agricultural dispersals 201

Ecological consequences of early European agriculture 204

Conclusion 207

References 208

6 The taming of nature (6000–1000 Cal. yr bp) 217

Introduction 217

Changes in the natural environment 219

Climate and vegetation 219

The origin and development of blanket mires 228

Coasts and rivers 232

Cultural evolution 235

Hydraulic civilisation in Mesopotamia 236

Environmental impact in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica 239

Pastoral nomadism 241

Mediterranean ecosystems 242

The making of the landscape: The British Isles 249

The primaeval forest 250

Shaugh Moor – a Bronze Age landscape 254

The environmental impact of permanent agricultural clearance 256

Conclusion 261

References 262

7 The impact of modern times (1000–0 Cal. yr bp) 277

Introduction 277

Climatic changes in historical times 280

Climate history and global warming 282

Consequences of medieval and Little Ice Age climate change 288

Expansion at the periphery 291

Conquest of the Northlands 291

The Pacific 295

Ecological imperialism 300

Land-use history and soil erosion 303

Pollution histories 312

Eutrophication: natural or cultural? 312

Acidification and atmospheric pollution 318

References 323

8 The environmental future: A Holocene perspective 336

Holocene environmental crises 340

Environmental conservation and Holocene Environmental history 343

References 347

Appendix: Calibration table for radiocarbon ages 352

Glossary 353

Index 358

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