Lake Hashilan ITRAX study

This study concentrates on the Zagros region during a crucial period in human history. Wide-scale transition from mobile hunter-gatherer to sedentary farmer-herder in the Fertile Crescent, during the Neolithic period, has been identified, indicating the establishment of new lifestyles and diets, including plant and animal domestication. However, despite being a region of such significance, the Zagros area has received little attention in terms of palaeoenvironmental studies.

Therefore, the aim of my PhD research is to reconstruct the environmental history of two lake sites (Lake Ganau, Iraq and Lake Hashilan, Iran) between ca.12,000-9000 BP in the Near East. High-resolution palaeoenvironmental records will be produced for the Late Glacial-Early Holocene transition to identify changes in vegetation cover and correlate them with anthropogenic activity, such as the opening of the landscape and spread of deciduous oak (Quercus) woodland, and infer indirect climatic conditions and their impact on resource management and vegetation cover.

In order to achieve the aim of my research, pollen, non-pollen palynomorph and charcoal analysis will be performed on the lake sediments, in addition to geochemical data that has been obtained using the ITRAX at a high-resolution. The ITRAX data of Lake Hashilan is now being used to identify erosional events within the Early Holocene period sequence that could have been a result of either human activity (a result of agricultural activities) or be a result of natural cause. The advantage of this research is that it is a multi-proxy study and thus all of the methods mentioned will together provide valuable results that could explain some of the trends and changes in the environment observed in this important region. By doing so, it will help placing climatic and vegetational changes as well as human response in the Zagros region within the wider region and context during the Early Neolithic while appreciating local differences across Southwest Asia.