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Human responses to climate and ecosystem change in ancient Arabia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Michael D. Petraglia, Huw S. Groucutt, Maria Guagnin, Paul S. Breeze, Nicole Boivin

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8263-8270
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020

King's Authors


Recent interdisciplinary archaeological and paleoenvironmental research in the Arabian peninsula is transforming our understanding of ancient human societies in their ecological contexts. Hypotheses about the cultural and demographic impacts of a series of droughts have primarily been developed from the environmental and archaeological records of southeastern Arabia. Here we examine these human-environment interactions by integrating ongoing research from northern Arabia. While droughts and extreme environmental variability in the Holocene had significant impacts on human societies, responses varied across space and time and included mobility at various scales, as well as diverse social, economic and cultural adaptations, such as the management of water resources, the introduction of pastoral lifeways, and the construction of diverse types of stone structures. The long-term story of human societies in Arabia is one of resilience in the face of climate change, yet future challenges include rising temperatures and flash flooding. The history of human responses to climatic and ecosystem changes in Arabia can provide important lessons for a planet facing catastrophic global warming and environmental change.

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