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Parseh J Archaeol Stud 2018, 2(4): 7-22 Back to browse issues page
The Impact of the Mid-Holocene Climate Changes on the Genesis and Development of the Early Settlements in the North of Central Iran
Babak Shaikh Baikloo Islam1, Ahmad Chaychi Amirkhiz2, Hamid Reza Valipour3
1- Ph.D. Archaeology (Prehistoric) , babak.bagloo@yahoo.com
2- Assistant Professor, Research Institute of Cultural Heritage & Tourism.
3- Assistant Professor, Department of Archeology Shahid Beheshti University.
Abstract:   (8656 Views)
In the Holocene, there has been a sudden and severe climate change that has affected the process of cultural evolution, subsistence system, demographic change, and the pattern of the distribution of human settlements. Palaeoclimatological studies show that in the second half of the 7th millennium BC, during a cold and dry climatic event, with a peak of about 6200 BC, the settlement conditions, in particular in some parts of the Northern hemisphere, were significantly disturbed. After this period, the air temperature rose sharply and replaced the warm and dry climate from the beginning of the 6th millennium BC. From the second quarter of the 6th millennium BC, gradually, the amount of humidity increased and the air temperature decreased, so that from the beginning of the second half of the 6th millennium BC, more favorable climate conditions were created for agricultural activities. The early evidence of the human settlements in the North of Central Iran region mainly belongs to the beginning of the sixth millennium BC. Due to the lack of architectural evidence from the first half of the 6th millennium BC in this region, human societies were probably semi-sedentary. From about 5400 BC, sedentary-farmer settlements with architecture were established and gradually their number increased. In the early 5th millennium BC, a warm and dry climatic change caused the interregnum/collapse of the settlements in the region. Therefore, the time of the genesis and prosperity of the early settlements in the North of Central Iran was related to the climatic conditions and occurred in an appropriate climate period between two dry periods.
Keywords: The Mid-Holocene, Climate Change, 6200 BC Event, 6th Millennium BC, The North of Central Iran.

Although human beings have the liberty in nature, the study of the cultural evolution of human societies without reference to environmental change cannot be valid. In other words, one of the main motives of cultural dynamism and evolution is interactions between humans and the environment.
The Holocene period is divided into three phases: the early Holocene (ca. 9700 - 6000 BC), the middle (ca. 6000-3000 BC) and the late (ca. 3000 BC). Abrupt climate changes, both warming and colding, which have led to drought and unfavorable environmental conditions, have repeatedly occurred since the beginning of the Holocene age and have led to cultural collapses in human societies. However, between these climatic events, we often witness the birth of a new or evolved culture.
In the cultural region of the North of Central Iran, with the exception of the Western Tepe of Sang-i Chakhmaq, no evidence has yet been found of human settlements belonging to before the sixth millennium BC (the beginning of the Middle Holocene). Due to the occurrence of the 6200 BC climatic event, which caused a severe cold-drought period for 200-400 years (in different regions), presumably, the lack of prehistoric sites has been linked to unfavorable climatic conditions in this arid and semi-arid cultural region. The results of palaeoclimatological studies, together with absolute datings, can not only be useful in more accurate chronology of ancient sites, but also they can explain the causes of population changes, settlement patterns, many of migrations and displacements of human societies, as well as changes in their diet and lifestyle. In this study, considering the climatic condition of the early Mid-Holocene, based on the palaeoclimatological studies carried out in several sites, the initial status of human settlements in the North of Central Iran region during the sixth millennium BC will be discussed.

Research Findings
In the Holocene, the air temperature and moisture significantly increased compared to the Ice Age, and the changing climate led to the emergence of the Neolithic Age and food production. However, during this period, despite the high average of the air temperature, the earth experienced severe climate changes, which affected cultural development, demographic changes, subsistence system, and the distribution pattern of human settlements. Around 6200 BC, suddenly, a very cold climate change occurred, which lasted 150 to 600 years in different regions. The occurrence of this event led to changes in the lifestyle of the Neolithic communities. The cultural region of the North of Central Iran consists of two parts: the Western part (the salt lake basin) and the Eastern part (the Western half of the central desert basin). The oldest Neolithic settlement in the Western part of the region is the Western tepe of Sang-i Chakhmaq dating back to 7200 BC to 6600 BC, but in the Eastern part, no settlements belonging to before 6100 BC have been found.
So far, a few semi-sedentary sites belonging to the first half of the 6th millennium BC in the salt lake basin have been identified. Palaeoclimatological studies show that the air temperature and humidity have suddenly increased sharply after the 6200 BC cold event. However, since the second quarter of the 6th millennium BC, the air temperature has gradually decreased. In the middle of this millennium, an abrupt warming fluctuation occurred, but from about 5400 BC, the air temperature and humidity reached an optimum level for agricultural activities. In general, the early sedentary-farmer settlements in this region belong to after 5400 BC. However, at the end of the 6th millennium BC, another climate change caused severe warm-dry conditions, in which, since the beginning of the fifth millennium BC, settlements gradually collapsed.

The cultural area of North Central Iran consists of two parts: West (catchment basin of Namak Lake) and East (Western half catchment basin of central desert). The first Neolithic settlement in the Western part of this region, Western mound of Sang-i Chakhmaq with dating 7200 BC to 6600 BC. In the eastern part, so far, no settlement older haven’t been found than 6100 BC. The early sedentary-farmer settlements in the cultural region of the north of central Iran, such as Yan Tepe of the Ozbeki site, Tepe Ibrahim Abad, Tepe Moein Abad, Northern Tepe of the Sialk site, Tepe Pardis and Tepe Cheshmeh Ali, have been established and developed in a 400-year period between 5400 and 5000 BC with a relatively mild and humid climate, between two severe drought periods.
Keywords: The Mid-Holocene, Climate Change, 6200 BC Event, 6th Millennium BC, The North of Central Iran.
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Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special Archeology
Received: 2018/12/7 | Accepted: 2018/12/7 | Published: 2018/12/7
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Shaikh Baikloo Islam B, Chaychi Amirkhiz A, Reza Valipour H. The Impact of the Mid-Holocene Climate Changes on the Genesis and Development of the Early Settlements in the North of Central Iran. Parseh J Archaeol Stud. 2018; 2 (4) :7-22
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