Project 610 - From the Caspian to Mediterranean: Environmental Change and Human Response during the Quaternary

This Project will investigate the influence of environmental change on the development of humankind for the entire Caspian-Black Sea-Mediterranean Corridor [“CORRIDOR”] that encompasses the Eurasian intercontinental basins of the Caspian, Black, Marmara, Aegean, and Eastern Mediterranean seas with their connecting straits and coasts (Fig. 1). During the Quaternary, these basins were repeatedly connected and isolated from each other. This predetermined their environmental conditions and hydrologic regimes and imposed specific impacts on diverse biological populations, including humans inhabiting the coastal domains.

The Project’s goal is to provide cross-disciplinary and cross-regional correlation of geological, archaeological, environmental, and anthropological records in order to (a) explore interrelationships between environmental change and human adaptation during the Quaternary, (b) create a networking and capacity-building structure to develop new interdisciplinary research initiatives, and (c) provide guidance to heritage professionals, policy makers, and the wider public on the relevance of studying the “CORRIDOR” for a deeper understanding of Eurasian history, environmental changes and their relevance, and likely future impact on humans.

This project has a triple focus: (1) geological history, (2) paleoenvironmental change (climate, sea level, coastline migration), and (3) human response (migration, subsistence strategy, physical and cultural adaptation, etc.) to environmental changes. Six dimensions of evidence will be explored by integrating existing data and hypothesis testing:

1. The geological dimension will examine the sedimentary record of vertical sea-level fluctuations and lateral coastline change.

2. The paleoenvironmental dimension will integrate paleontological, palynological, and sedimentological records to reconstruct paleolandscapes.

3. The archaeological dimension will investigate cultural remains.

4. The paleoanthropological dimension will study responses of different Homo species to environmental change.

5. The mathematical dimension will provide GIS-aided mathematical modeling of climate, sea-level change, and human dispersal linked to environmental change.

6. The geo-information dimension will grasp the "big picture" of geoarchaeological events throughout the Quaternary. Attention will be given to synthesizing the wealth of literature published in local languages, stored in archives, and largely unknown in the West.

This Project succeeds IGCP 521 “Black Sea-Mediterranean Corridor during the last 30 ky: sea level change and human adaptation” (2005-2010) that collected, integrated, and analyzed much scientific data and established a strong international team of multidisciplinary scientists from 32 countries.

That Project examined the “CORRIDOR” for the last 30 ky only. The new IGCP Project will begin in the early Quaternary, examining responses of pre-modern humans to environmental change, and it will include the Central Asian basins thereby covering the Eurasian cascade more completely and involving scientists from countries farther east. It will link Europe and Asia more closely in the successive conferences and field trips, and like its predecessor, the new Project will improve our understanding of the geoscientific factors affecting global environment in order to improve human living conditions; increase understanding of geological processes and concepts of global climate change [GCC], including socially relevant issues; and improve standards, methods, and techniques of carrying out geological and archaeological research, including the transfer of geological and geotechnological knowledge between industrialized and developing countries.

The Project’s wide scope provides a superb opportunity to collaborate with ongoing IGCP 526, IGCP 588, as well as the MAB Programme of the UNESCO Strategy for Action on Climate Change, LOICZ, IGBP, and especially with SPLASHCOS, in which two co-leaders of this Project (V. Yanko-Hombach and O. Smyntyna) are members of the Management Committee. The Project complements the IGU Commission on Coastal Systems, INQUA CMP, and TERPRO Commissions with which IGCP 521 cooperated previously through the INQUA 501 project, as well as HaBCom, SACCOM, and PALCOMM Commissions. The Project will also collaborate with geological surveys, archaeological expeditions, and corresponding museums in all countries bordering the “CORRIDOR.”

Back to top