Millennia-old plant remains shed light on climate change in Israel

Some 20,000 years ago, winters in Israel were colder — with the lowest temperatures recorded in January about five degrees Celsius less than contemporary ones, while the level of precipitation was similar to the current one, a group of researchers have found in an innovative project documenting some 10 millennia of climate in the area. By analyzing botanical remains from 10,000 to 20,000 years ago from the Hula Valley in northern Israel, archaeologists from Tel Aviv University, Tel Hai College and the University of Montpellier in France were able to reconstruct how the weather evolved during that period. Their findings were recently published in the journal Quaternary Science Review. “I have been very interested in environmental reconstruction — and by analyzing botanical remains, I have been working on reconstructing climate and ecology history of the region, which I believe is a key to answer important questions about human evolution,” said TAU archaeobotanist Dr. Dafna Langgut. Some 60 plant sediments were radiocarbon-dated, and for every several samples, pollens were extracted for a total of several hundred. This allowed the researchers to develop a pollen-based paleoclimate model.

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