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      Ancient harbors and Holocene morphogenesis of the Ras Ibn Hani peninsula (Syria)

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          Abstract

          Ras Ibn Hani peninsula, a wave-dominated tombolo (800 × 1000 m) on the Syrian coast, provides evidence for significant Holocene changes that can be linked to geological inheritance, rising post-glacial sea level, sediment supply and human impacts. Initial development of Ras Ibn Hani's coastal system began ~ 8000 years ago when shallow marine environments formed in a context of rising post-glacial sea level. Following relative sea-level stabilization ~ 6000 cal yr BP, beach facies trace the gradual formation of a wave-dominated sandbank fronted by a ~ 2300 × ~ 500 m palaeo-island whose environmental potentiality was attractive to Bronze Age societies. A particularly rapid phase of tombolo accretion is observed after ~ 3500 cal yr BP characterised by a two- to fourfold increase in sedimentation rates. This is consistent with (i) a pulse in sediment supply probably driven by Bronze Age/Iron Age soil erosion in local catchments, and (ii) positive feedback mechanisms linked to regionally attested neotectonics. Archaeological remains and radiocarbon datings confirm that the subaerial tombolo was probably in place by the Late Bronze Age. These data fit tightly with other eastern Mediterranean tombolo systems suggesting that there is a great deal of predictability to their geology and stratigraphy at the regional scale.

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          Most cited references 29

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          IntCal09 and Marine09 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves, 0–50,000 Years cal BP

          The IntCal04 and Marine04 radiocarbon calibration curves have been updated from 12 cal kBP (cal kBP is here defined as thousands of calibrated years before AD 1950), and extended to 50 cal kBP, utilizing newly available data sets that meet the IntCal Working Group criteria for pristine corals and other carbonates and for quantification of uncertainty in both the14C and calendar timescales as established in 2002. No change was made to the curves from 0–12 cal kBP. The curves were constructed using a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) implementation of the random walk model used for IntCal04 and Marine04. The new curves were ratified at the 20th International Radiocarbon Conference in June 2009 and are available in the Supplemental Material atwww.radiocarbon.org.
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            Geoscience of ancient Mediterranean harbours

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              Middle East coastal ecosystem response to middle-to-late Holocene abrupt climate changes.

              The Holocene vegetation history of the northern coastal Arabian Peninsula is of long-standing interest, as this Mediterranean/semiarid/arid region is known to be particularly sensitive to climatic changes. Detailed palynological data from an 800-cm alluvial sequence cored in the Jableh plain in northwest Syria have been used to reconstruct the vegetation dynamics in the coastal lowlands and the nearby Jabal an Nuşayriyah mountains for the period 2150 to 550 B.C. Corresponding with the 4.2 to 3.9 and 3.5 to 2.5 cal kyr BP abrupt climate changes (ACCs), two large-scale shifts to a more arid climate have been recorded. These two ACCs had different impacts on the vegetation assemblages in coastal Syria. The 3.5 to 2.5 cal kyr BP ACC is drier and lasted longer than the 4.2 to 3.9 cal kyr BP ACC, and is characterized by the development of a warm steppe pollen-derived biome (1100-800 B.C.) and a peak of hot desert pollen-derived biome at 900 B.C. The 4.2 to 3.9 cal kyr BP ACC is characterized by a xerophytic woods and shrubs pollen-derived biome ca. 2050 B.C. The impact of the 3.5 to 2.5 cal kyr BP ACC on human occupation and cultural development is important along the Syrian coast with the destruction of Ugarit and the collapse of the Ugarit kingdom at ca. 1190 to 1185 B.C.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Quaternary Research
                Quat. res.
                Elsevier BV
                0033-5894
                1096-0287
                July 2012
                April 18 2012
                July 2012
                : 78
                : 1
                : 35-49
                Article
                10.1016/j.yqres.2012.03.005
                © 2012

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