Project Contextual Change - Motor of Human Mobility?


Initial investigation areas:   Northern Africa, Western Eurasia
  Speaker: Prof. Dr. M. Melles


The overall aim of Project Cluster E is to link local and regional results derived in all CRC Clusters and integrate them into regional to intercontinental pictures through time. This involves large-scale culturally embedded land use as well as climatic and environmental development, which controls land use to a large extent. Integrating the mainly point-based results of other projects into two-dimensional pictures and scenarios (three-dimensional when time is regarded as the third dimension) is crucial in the context of the overall CRC aims.

The term of “contextual change” comprises both, objective and subjective parameters. Amongst the objective parameters are climatic and environmental variables, whilst the subjective parameters relate to the differential perception of reality by human beings. In order to understand contextual change as a motor for human mobility, we need sub models from the participating climatic, environmental, anthropological, cultural and social systems and tools to describe and explain interrelations between the systems.

In this first phase of the CRC project, E4 will serve as a starting point for the compilation of climatical, hydrological and ecological changes, as documented in high-resolution aquatic sediment sequences from present day lakes and near-shore ocean basins. The human sphere is represented by projects on population dynamics (E1), cognitive patterns of collective decision making (E2) and ethnohistorical case studies of hunter-gatherer mobility patterns (E3). These projects will serve as important elements and later, they will be integrated into a scenario of migration of hunter-gatherer and transitional societies.

At the end of the first CRC phase, all filed and laboratory data, which are georeferenced and dated, will be available in a GIS operated by Z2. These data shall be used to draw first maps of climatic and environmental settings in the CRC area for selected time slices in the Late Quaternary (e.g. Eemean Temperature Optimum, LGM, Termination I) and compare them with respective maps showing presence, absence and population densities of Modern Man. This will allow us to identify potential dependencies of human beings from natural factors. Comparisons of different time slices will allow us to develop first scenarios and theories on human dispersal and migration at different temporal and spatial scales. This is a first step towards a better understanding of contextual change.

In the second and third CRC phases the data will be extended both spatially and temporally. Besides this, numerical models shall be developed, which will allow us to validate the palaeoenvironmental scenarios derived from geoscientific proxies and to predict areas which at given times can have served as human habitats. Both types of models will built on initial studies that are currently placed in regional projects (e.g. B3, D3), but will then become involved in Cluster E.





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RWTH Aachen University

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