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Coastal landscape evolution of Corsica island (W. Mediterranean): Palaeoenvironments, vegetation history and human impacts since the early Neolithic period

AuthorsRevelles, Jordi; Ghilardi, Matthieu; Rossi, Veronica; Currás, Andrés ; López-Bultó, Oriol; Brkojewitsch, Gaël; Vacchi, Matteo
Issue Date1-Dec-2019
PublisherElsevier BV
CitationQuaternary Science Reviews 225: 105993 (2019)
AbstractA multi-proxy investigation of sediment cores has enabled us to reconstruct the coastal environmental evolution of East-Central Corsica (the sites of Saint Florent, Piantarella-Bonifacio and Palo-Solenzara) for the last 8000 years. The analytical methods comprise pollen (five original pollen diagrams), weight loss-on-ignition measurements, laser granulometry, and ostracod identification. In addition, 26 radiocarbon dates are used to provide a robust chronostratigraphy for the sedimentary sequences. The assessment of coastal landscape dynamics enables us to define the major morphological changes and to evaluate the complex interplay between climatic forcing and anthropogenic activity on the vegetation history of Corsica, within an archaeological context, since the early Neolithic period (∼7.4 cal kyr BP). The major findings are that the first farmers reached Corsica by sea, and they encountered a coastal environment mainly composed of freshwater ponds located close to the shoreline. This specific paleoenvironmental feature offered a favourable location for agriculture and for the development of permanent settlements where a subsistence economy was developed. Since the Middle Holocene, postglacial sea-level rise has caused major changes in local coastal environments, often characterized by salt intrusion into freshwater bodies. At the transition between the Mid and Late Holocene (∼4.0 cal kyr BP), an increase in both salinity and aridity caused substantial landscape changes, mainly characterized by a further expansion of saline marshland, mainly occupied by Chenopodiaceae. The results also provide new insights into the role of Erica in the original Holocene vegetation of Corsica. Our data clearly indicate that an Erica arborea - Quercus ilex forest transition occurred before 6.3 cal kyr BP, significantly earlier than previously proposed. Finally, the earliest evidence of cereal cultivation is at ∼7350 cal kyr BP, and in addition we are better able to constrain the role of humans in the landscape dynamics of Corsica since the early Neolithic.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105993
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2019.105993
issn: 0277-3791
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