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Holocene environmental change and human impact in NE Morocco: Palaeobotanical evidence from Ifri Oudadane

AuthorsZapata, Lydia; López Sáez, José Antonio ; Ruiz Alonso, Mónica ; Pérez Jordá, Guillem ; Morales Mateos, Jacob ; Kehl, M.; Peña-Chocarro, Leonor
Issue DateMay-2013
PublisherSage Publications
CitationHolocene 23(9): 1286-1296 (2013)
AbstractThe littoral site of Ifri Oudadane is one of the most important recently excavated sites in the Mediterranean Maghreb. The shelter presents Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic layers and therefore offers the possibility to investigate the Neolithic transition in the region. Besides introducing the archaeological context, this paper focuses on palaeobotanical data in order to reconstruct Holocene environmental change and human use of plant resources for the period c. 11 to 5.7 ka cal. BP. Results show intense landscape transformations resulting from anthropic and climatic factors. First human occupations start at the beginning of the Holocene with favourable conditions in this otherwise harsh semi-arid stretch of land. A wooded environment with evergreen sclerophyllous oaks and riparian forests is documented and exploited by hunter-gatherers. From c. 7.6 ka cal. BP farming activities are well attested together with significant human impact, herding pressure and a progressive decline of arboreal components. After 6.6 ka cal. BP conditions become less favourable and markers for aridity increase. Riparian taxa disappear (Alnus) or decrease (Fraxinus, Populus, Salix); shrubs (Tamarix) and grasses (Artemisia) increase with a degradation of forest into shrubland (macchia). During 6.6 and 6.0 ka cal. BP there is a general occupation gap in arid and semi-arid Morocco and evidence for that change is also found in the alluvial deposits of the Moulouya, NE Morocco. Indicators for food production decrease at the same time and the site is abandoned during the first half of the 6th millennium cal. BP. © The Author(s) 2013.
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