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Environmental change in deltaic settings and the emergence of civilisation

Environmental change in deltaic settings and the emergence of civilisation
Environmental change in deltaic settings and the emergence of civilisation
During the mid-Holocene, some of the world's first large-scale complex societies came into being within the lower and middle reaches of a number of large river systems. Around this time, as global sea-level stabilised, the hosting fluvial environments of Lower Mesopotamia, the Nile Delta and the North China Plain were evolving from spatially varied landscapes dominated by swampy marshland, to better-drained, more uniform floodplain environments. It is necessary to consider whether such environmental changes could have guided aspects of sociocultural evolution in these settings

In the Nile Delta, the setting for which most data are available, these palaeolandscape changes are comprehensively mapped through the construction of a four-dimensional aggradation model of the Holocene alluvial plain. Development of this model takes place within the context of a full reinterpretation of the Upper Quaternary stratigraphy of the Nile Delta, which is itself further informed by substantial programmes of fieldwork in the western delta. The environmental changes were forced by a decrease in the rate of relative sea-level rise within the context of decreased discharge and sediment-supply due to regional climate change.

A geoarchaeological model links these changes in the landscape to sociocultural developments taking place in Egypt between 5500 and 2500 BC. Increased adoption of agricultural practices in the delta was stimulated by a decrease in the primary productivity of the landscape, which then led to population growth and shifts in settlement styles. The emergence of the first Egyptian capital of Memphis at the delta apex can also be seen as having been facilitated by changes in the palaeogeography of the fluvio-deltaic environment. Such linkages between the changing deltaic landscapes and social change are crucial in understanding the formation of the Ancient Egyptian State (c. 3100 BC), which involved increased involvement of regional elites using the delta as both an agricultural resource and trade route.
University of Southampton
Pennington, Benjamin Thomas
c4d1fb87-08f6-4f08-89d3-af0a4f28474b
Pennington, Benjamin Thomas
c4d1fb87-08f6-4f08-89d3-af0a4f28474b
Sturt, Fraser
442e14e1-136f-4159-bd8e-b002bf6b95f6

Pennington, Benjamin Thomas (2018) Environmental change in deltaic settings and the emergence of civilisation. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

During the mid-Holocene, some of the world's first large-scale complex societies came into being within the lower and middle reaches of a number of large river systems. Around this time, as global sea-level stabilised, the hosting fluvial environments of Lower Mesopotamia, the Nile Delta and the North China Plain were evolving from spatially varied landscapes dominated by swampy marshland, to better-drained, more uniform floodplain environments. It is necessary to consider whether such environmental changes could have guided aspects of sociocultural evolution in these settings

In the Nile Delta, the setting for which most data are available, these palaeolandscape changes are comprehensively mapped through the construction of a four-dimensional aggradation model of the Holocene alluvial plain. Development of this model takes place within the context of a full reinterpretation of the Upper Quaternary stratigraphy of the Nile Delta, which is itself further informed by substantial programmes of fieldwork in the western delta. The environmental changes were forced by a decrease in the rate of relative sea-level rise within the context of decreased discharge and sediment-supply due to regional climate change.

A geoarchaeological model links these changes in the landscape to sociocultural developments taking place in Egypt between 5500 and 2500 BC. Increased adoption of agricultural practices in the delta was stimulated by a decrease in the primary productivity of the landscape, which then led to population growth and shifts in settlement styles. The emergence of the first Egyptian capital of Memphis at the delta apex can also be seen as having been facilitated by changes in the palaeogeography of the fluvio-deltaic environment. Such linkages between the changing deltaic landscapes and social change are crucial in understanding the formation of the Ancient Egyptian State (c. 3100 BC), which involved increased involvement of regional elites using the delta as both an agricultural resource and trade route.

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Published date: September 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 424723
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/424723
PURE UUID: 427135d7-6ab5-4eea-9a14-2b5adaa7d507
ORCID for Fraser Sturt: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3010-990X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 05 Oct 2018 11:41
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 04:32

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Contributors

Author: Benjamin Thomas Pennington
Thesis advisor: Fraser Sturt ORCID iD

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