Climate, Human Paleoecology, and the Use of Fuel in Wadi Sana (Southern Yemen)

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 5 May, 2011 - 21:30 to 21:50
KIMIAIE, Masi - The Ohio State University, Department of Anthropology
Joy MCCORRISTON - The Ohio State University, Department of Anthropology

This study integrates wood charcoal assemblages with climate, environmental, and archaeological data sets in Wadi Sana, Yemen, to address the availability and use of wood fuels by South Arabian hunter-herder groups from 7200 BP to present. Fuel use most often is a major source of carbonized macrobotanical remains. This evidence provides significant reflections of land cover and use as well as human interactions with surrounding landscape.

Wadi Sana drains the southern plateau of Southern Yemen’s arid highlands and contains a closely integrated archaeological and paleoecological dataset within its Early Holocene alluvial terraces and adjacent rock shelters. The Early Holocene environment, regulated by a stronger Southwest Asian monsoon, was moister than present, providing a marshy winter grazing area for cattle herders, whose construction of hearths and food preparation strategies changed over time. A typology in hearth construction technique is evident in Wadi Sana where many hearths are visible eroding at the surfaces and in wadi cut-banks of ancient silt beds. The evaluation of the Holocene landscape history is presented based on alluvial stratigraphy as well as the examination of the effects of climate and anthropogenic change. Data suggest that despite a Middle Holocene weakening of the monsoon, the dominant vegetation in Wadi Sana was much like today and that landscape manipulation by humans did not substantively impact this fragile ecosystem prior to the introduction of camels.