High-resolution paleoclimatic trends for the holocene identified using magnetic susceptibility data from archaeological excavations in Caves

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A proxy paleoclimatic curve has been produced for the Holocene, c. 9000-3500 BP, from magnetic susceptibility (MS) measurements of sediment samples collected from two dated archaeological excavation trenches in Konispol Cave, Albania. The resulting MS data provide paleoclimate estimates that are in excellent agreement with independently published paleoclimatic trends for early-middle Holocene time. Basically, MS variations are attributed to variations in climate-controlled pedogenesis and the production of magnetic mineral phases, including maghemite, outside the cave. These soils are then washed, blown or tracked into the cave where they accumulate, creating the MS changes observed in the samples recovered. Low MS magnitudes indicate times of cooler/drier climate resulting from reduced pedogenesis, while warmer/wetter times yield higher pedogenetic rates and thus higher MS magnitudes. It is clear from the Konispol Cave results that some caves provide ideal, protected environments from which high-resolution, paleoclimatic records can be extracted. Composite sections from excavations within a single region can yield a relatively continuous, long-term climatic proxy that can be routinely correlated to artefacts recovered from these or other protected excavations within the same region. © 1997 Academic Press Limited.

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Journal of Archaeological Science

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