The vegetation history of East-Central Anatolia in relation to archaeology: the Eski Acıgöl pollen evidence compared with the Near Eastern environment


  • H. Woldring
  • S. Bottema


As a contribution to the vegetation history of northwestern Cappadocia, the authors studied a core from a crater lake in that area, covering the Late Glacial and the Holocene. The lower sediment sequence shows characteristic, probably annual lamination. In the middle zone, solid stretches and banded silts are found, while in the upper part laminated sections alternate with silts and carbonaceous matter. Incorporation of old carbon in the sediments means that radiocarbon samples are dated too old; the age/depth regression line suggests a correction of 3100 years. An explanatory comment on the dating evidence is given.

Steppe plant communities predominate during the Late Glacial. Substantial values of Gramineae reveal relatively humid conditions for the earliest part, followed by an increase of Chenopodiaceae during the next period, which suggests increased summer drought. In the last phase of dominating steppe vegetation, Artemisia pollen values suggest low winter temperatures. Patches of oak scrubland or woodland are present throughout the Late Glacial. A change from cold and drought-tolerant semi-desert vegetation to grass steppe and oak-terebinth woodland implies a shift towards a more humid and warmer climate. In the following millennia annual precipitation probably increased to c. 500 mm. Archaeological evidence demonstrates the emergence of Neolithic farming communities in Cappadocia. At about 8000 BP, a great diversity in woodland species developed. In the south, conifers expanded with cedars probably advancing into the Göllüdağ Mountains. The next period presents firm evidence of crop cultivation (barley and wheat) in Cappadocia. A decline in rotifer percentages (Rotatoria) and a vigorous rise of green algae (Pediastrum) attest to an anthropogenic increase of nutrients in the lake. Human pressure seems to have been variable through time. Pollen values suggest a substantial expansion of deciduous oaks and declining agricultural activity towards the end of the 5th millennium BP. Soon afterwards a serious reduction of oak woodland and a rise of anthropogenic vegetation reveal further exploitation of the environment by man. A series of high-resolution pollen samples was processed from part of the laminated section. The results, which represent about 50 years, are quite consistent and show only minor fluctuations.