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Project A3

Ethiopian lakes – Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction in the source region of modern man

Principal Investigators: F. Schäbitz, B. Wagner

The climatic and environmental context in the source region of the emergence of Modern Man is still poorly known. This project is, in strong cooperation with Henry Lamb (University of Aberystwyth), dedicated to the analysis of limnic sediments in Central and Southern Ethiopia in terms of elucidating the climate history of the last 200,000 years, in order to investigate the conditions which led to primary dispersal of Modern Man to Northwest Africa and to the Near East.

The overall project objective is to use data from Ethiopian lake sediments to reconstruct the Late Pleistocene climatic and environmental history of the Horn of Africa at high temporal resolutions. Century to decadal resolution will allow reconstruction of short-term variations in the strength of the East African monsoon, and their links to D/O, NAO and ENSO oscillations. Annual resolution may also be achievable at specific sites over some time intervals, allowing investigation of past seasonality and its influence on the resources available to early human populations. For this purpose, we will recover and investigate long sediment records from selected lakes in the Ethiopian highlands and the Rift Valley. A deep core site will be chosen following phase 1 survey of potential lakes. This will include seismic survey to establish the depth and structure of potential sediment archives, short (<10 m) core recovery and analysis, and limnological survey (including locally-based monitoring) to establish calibration datasets mainly for pollen and ostracods. Tectonic and hydrothermal information will be collected and verified in the field, in order to check for non-climatic influences on lake level and hydrochemistry. Cores will be analysed for sedimentology, pollen, charcoal and ostracods during phase 1 and later for stable isotopes, trace-elements and organic geochemistry, mineralogy, diatoms, grass cuticles and phytoliths. Time-control will be established by a combination of AMS radiocarbon, luminescence, and Ar-Ar analysis of tephras, working towards the construction of a regional tephrochronological framework. Accompanying archaeological surveys in the surroundings of the limnological archives will establish the connection to the human settlement history. The resulting long palaeoenvironmental records promise to provide farreaching insights into the role of climatic and environmental change in the population dynamics, mobility, and cultural development of early modern humans in a key part of Africa, at the source of human dispersal into Europe and Asia.

 

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New cores out of Africa

New cores out of Africa

In two field campaigns (2009 and 2010) we successfully cored and explored two lakes in southern Ethiopia: Chew Bahir and Lake Cham...

More cores and archaeological artefacts: News from...

More cores and archaeological artefacts: News from the Ethiopian project team

In March 2012, we returned to Ethiopia with the aim of surveying for archaeological artefacts close to our lakes, to sample rock m...

West-east coring transect at Ethiopian lakes

West-east coring transect at Ethiopian lakes

In autumn 2011, we successfully completed a west to east coring transect at lakes in different altitudes. First, we cored Lake Bab...

Good things come to those who wait

Good things come to those who wait

Shortly after the set-back that the ICDP/HSPDP Chew Bahir drilling project will be postponed to autumn 2014, Frank Schaebitz recei...

All's well that ends well

All's well that ends well

  Five days ago, the rainy season started in Ethiopia and the ecosystems in the rift-valley began to bloom again. Almost just...

Oldest sediments from the source region of 'Homo s...

Oldest sediments from the source region of 'Homo sapiens sapiens'

A 40 m long sediment core from Chew Bahir/southern Ethiopia was already recovered in April 2014 funded exclusively by the CRC 806....

Coring activities in the Chew Bahir, southern Ethi...

Coring activities in the Chew Bahir, southern Ethiopia, have been successfully completed

The coring activities of the Chew Bahir Project, part of the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project (HSPDP) and associated...

 

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