9000 years of human resilience

NOUVELLE PUBLICATION / NEW PUBLICATION

The evolution of Lake Abhe’s paleoshorelines reveals 9000 years of human resilience in the face of climate change

by Lamya Khalidi

In a study published in Quaternary Science Reviews, a multidisciplinary archaeology-geoscience collaboration involving French and Ethiopian teams led by Lamya Khalidi, a researcher at the CNRS (CEPAM, University Côte d’Azur), has led to the description of the first Holocene human occupation sequence (from 11000 to 3300 before the present) and the discovery of the first known potter-pastoral sites in the Ethiopian Afar. Based on the study of 7 recently discovered archaeological sites in the Abhe paleolake basin, this team from the CEPAM, Geoazur, the French Center for Ethiopian Studies (CFEE), TRACES, MNHN, IPGS-EOST, Palévoprim and the Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) has carried out a reconstruction of the fluctuations of the level of Lake Abhe in relation to human occupation strategies by correlating new archaeological and geomorphological data and 37 new C14 dates. Over a period of 9000 years, the sites cover two major humid-arid transitions of the African Humid Period (AHP) during which the water level of Lake Abhe varied by more than 5000 km2 and hunter-gatherers turned to herding. This study reveals that the establishment of mixed economies was mainly in response to highly fluctuating environmental conditions in one of the world’s most arid regions.

See the press release on the INEE website.

9000 years of human lakeside adaptation in the Ethiopian Afar: Fisher-foragers and the first pastoralists in the Lake Abhe basin during the African Humid Period. Lamya Khalidi, Carlo Mologni, Clément Ménard, Lucie Coudert, Marzia Gabriele, Gourguen Davtian, Jessie Cauliez, Joséphine Lesur, Laurent Bruxelles, Lorène Chesnaux, Blade Engda Redae, Emily Hainsworth, Cécile Doubre, Marie Revel, Mathieu Schuster, Antoine Zazzo. Quaternary Science Reviews 243 (2020) 106459. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106459  

Lakes Gamari (left) and Afambo (right) in the Ethiopian Afar. These lakes are part of the Abhe paleolake basin (L. Khalidi, VAPOR-Afar).
The Awash River delta empties into Lake Gamari, in the Ethiopian Afar (L. Khalidi, VAPOR-Afar).
Borawli volcano overlooking the Kurub Bahari plain in the Ethiopian Afar. This plain is part of the Abhe paleolake basin and was flooded during the African Humid Period (L. Khalidi, VAPOR-Afar).
Lamya Khalidi and Carlo Mologni, the lead authors of this study, sampling a site dated to 10000 before present (Raso-02) in the Ethiopian Afar (E. Soteras, TelluS-Rift)
Orthophotograph of the Kurub-07 site under excavation. The site was occupied by the first potter-pastoralists of the Ethiopian Afar (G. Davtian, VAPOR-Afar).

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