back to news Aug. 14, 2012

How Early Humans Coped with Climate Change

Richard Yerkes, professor of anthropology, is lead author of a new study on how early humans interacted with their changing environment especially at times of extreme climate change.

Yerkes, along with Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University, conducted a study of an archaeological site outside Jerusalem. They found that around 8,000 B.C., villagers added heavy-duty axes and began to clear forests for fields and grazing lands until these activities seem to have led to land degradation and a related transition to a colder, drier climate around 6,600 to 6,000 BC. The samples from this site provide valuable information about how early humans interacted with their changing environment and were able to establish sustainable resource management systems. An analysis of tools from the site provides new information about land use patterns at the times of extreme climate change that may have helped the population adapt to their changing environment.

The study was published, August 8, in PLOSONE, a peer-reviewed, open access journal.