To better-understand natural hydroclimate variability and to help place recent climatic change within a longer-term perspective, a reconstruction of summer precipitation was developed based upon the oxygen isotope ratios of precisely-dated latewood alpha-cellulose from oak tree rings. Oxygen isotopes in precipitation are closely related to precipitation variability across the UK, enabling the reconstruction to be used to extend May to August precipitation totals for the England and Wales precipitation series back to 1201CE. The agreement between instrumental and reconstructed values is unusually strong, with more than half of the variance explained and standard verification tests passed. The stability of this relationship is confirmed using split-period calibration and verification. This allows the reconstruction to be variance-scaled to the full length of the England and Wales instrumental series back to 1766CE. Near-constant replication, with a minimum of ten timbers sourced from historic buildings across central southern England ensures signal strength does not change over time. Summers during the late 20th century appear anomalously dry and those of the 21st century very close to the pre-20th century average with no evidence in the record of prolonged 'megadroughts' across England and Wales.
The project aim was to develop process-based computer simulations of the dispersal of Homo erectus out of Africa. This involved developing realistic constraints on the patterns of vegetation and the effects of changes in global sea level. It was assumed that this migration out of Africa could be investigated through the paradigm of a single migration event, starting around 2 millions of years ago and arriving in Dmanisi around 1.8 millions of years ago. The data archived here consists of the vegetation patterns used in constructing the simulations and the patterns of climate variability used to constrain the variations in sea level and vegetation change. From these data it is possible to reproduce the simulation results. Simulation results are available from J.K. Hughes, A. Haywood, S.J. Mithen, B.W. Sellwood, P.J. Valdes (In Press) Investigating Early Hominin Dispersal Patterns : developing a framework for climate data integration. Journal Of Human Evolution.
The spectacular botanical preservation and long occupation of Qasr Ibrim, Egypt make this site archaeobotanically matchless. 600 samples have been collected over 20 years covering a timespan of c. 1000 BC - AD 1800. The project has particularly focussed on the period AD 100-400 during which several new summer crops including sorghum, cotton, lablab and sesame first appear. These new crops are thought to be associated with the introduction of new irrigation technology, specifically a device known as the saqia, an ox-driven water wheel from which descends a conveyor belt to which pots are attached. It has never before been possible to examine this crucial change archaeologically and this project has allowed the investigation of when and how this great change happened. This has major implications for the history of agriculture in Africa and the Indian Ocean.
This project aimed to investigate whether the present chronological data for late Mousterian sites in Europe are biasing our perception of Neanderthal populations by making them appear more cold-adapted than the incoming anatomically modern Early Upper Palaeolithic humans. In this study we focused on the part of the Neanderthal world that experienced the most continental climatic environments - namely, European Russia north of the Black Sea - for it is in such a region that the environmental preferences, in particular tolerance to temperature, are most discernible. By applying a series of cross-validated non-14C chronological methodologies (OSL, TL, palaeomagnetic intensity, and tephrostratigraphy) to late Middle Palaeolithic assemblages the project sought to identify spatial and temporal patterning which, when correlated with local environmental proxies and wider climate data, would provide a better understanding of Neanderthal climate tolerances. The project has produced a suite of new age determinations from a selection of archaeological sites that had previously undergone investigation and which were available to sample without requiring new excavations; the corresponding data on the cultural, lithic and environmental associations of the new age measurements derive mostly from earlier existing studies.
Star Carr is arguably the most well known Mesolithic site in Europe. The potential of this area was first discovered by the work of local amateur archaeologist John Moore in the late 1940s, who realised that the flat expanse of peat within the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering had once been an ancient lake, which he called Lake Flixton. Since the Mesolithic period, the lake had infilled with peat and this had created excellent preservation conditions for the archaeology in this area.