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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 10 | Copyright

Special issue: The 4.2 ka BP climatic event

Clim. Past, 14, 1529-1542, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Review article 22 Oct 2018

Review article | 22 Oct 2018

The 4.2 ka BP event in the Levant

David Kaniewski1,2,3, Nick Marriner4, Rachid Cheddadi5, Joël Guiot6, and Elise Van Campo1,2 David Kaniewski et al.
  • 1Université Paul Sabatier-Toulouse 3, EcoLab (Laboratoire d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement), Bâtiment 4R1, 118 Route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France
  • 2CNRS, EcoLab (Laboratoire d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement), 31062 Toulouse cedex 9, France
  • 3Institut Universitaire de France, Secteur Biologie-Médecine-Santé, 103 boulevard Saint Michel, 75005 Paris, France
  • 4CNRS, Laboratoire Chrono-Environnement UMR6249, MSHE Ledoux, USR 3124, Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, UFR ST, 16 Route de Gray, 25030 Besançon, France
  • 5Université Montpellier II, CNRS-UM2-IRD, ISEM, France
  • 6Aix-Marseille Université, CEREGE, CNRS, UM34, Europôle de l'Arbois BP80, 13545 Aix-en-Provence, France

Abstract. The 4.2kaBP event is defined as a phase of environmental stress characterized by severe and prolonged drought of global extent. The event is recorded from the North Atlantic through Europe to Asia and has led scientists to evoke a 300-year global mega-drought. For the Mediterranean and the Near East, this abrupt climate episode radically altered precipitation, with an estimated 30%–50% drop in rainfall in the eastern basin. While many studies have highlighted similar trends in the northern Mediterranean (from Spain to Turkey and the northern Levant), data from northern Africa and the central-southern Levant are more nuanced, suggesting a weaker imprint of this climate shift on the environment and/or different climate patterns. Here, we critically review environmental reconstructions for the Levant and show that, while the 4.2kaBP event also corresponds to a drier period, a different climate pattern emerges in the central-southern Levant, with two arid phases framing a wetter period, suggesting a W-shaped event. This is particularly well expressed by records from the Dead Sea area.

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Short summary
Studies have long suggested that a protracted drought phase, termed the 4.2 ka BP event, directly impacted subsistence systems (dry farming agro-production, pastoral nomadism, and fishing) and outlying nomad habitats, forcing rain-fed cereal agriculturalists into habitat-tracking when agro-innovations were not available. Here, we focus on this crucial period to examine whether drought was active in the eastern Mediterranean Old World, especially in the Levant.
Studies have long suggested that a protracted drought phase, termed the 4.2 ka BP event,...