23 Nov 2022
23 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

The use of paleoclimate simulations to refine the environmental and chronological context of archaeological/paleontological sites

Léa Terray1, Emmanuelle Stoetzel2, Eslem Ben Arous3,4,2, Masa Kageyama5, Raphaël Cornette1, and Pascale Braconnot5 Léa Terray et al.
  • 1Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB) – UMR 7205, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, EPHE, Université des Antilles, Paris, France
  • 2Histoire Naturelle de l’Homme Préhistorique (HNHP) – UMR 7194, CNRS, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, UPVD, Musée de l'Homme, Paris, France
  • 3Pan-African Evolution Research Group (Pan-Ev), Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany
  • 4Geochronology lab, Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana, Burgos, Spain
  • 5Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE) – UMR 8212 / Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL) – UMR 8112, CEA/CNRS/UVSQ, Centre CEA-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Abstract. This study illustrates the strong potential of combining paleoenvironmental reconstructions and paleoclimate modeling to refine the paleoenvironmental and chronological context of archaeological and paleontological sites. We focus on the El Harhoura 2 cave (EH2), an archeological site located on the North-Atlantic coast of Morocco that covers a period from the Late Pleistocene to the mid-Holocene. On several stratigraphic layers, inconsistencies are observed between species- and isotope-based inferences used to reconstruct paleoenvironmental conditions. The stratigraphy of EH2 also shows chronological inconsistencies on older layers between age estimated by Optical Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) and Combination of Uranium Series and Electron Spin Resonance methods (combined US-ESR). We performed paleoclimate simulations to infer the global paleoclimate variations over the EH2 sequence in the area, and we conducted a consistency approach between paleoclimate reconstruction estimated from simulations and available from EH2 paleoenvironmental inferences. Our main conclusion show that the climate sequence based on combined US-ESR ages is more consistent with paleoenvironmental inferences than the climate sequence based on OSL ages. We also evidence that isotope-based inferences are more congruent with the paleoclimate sequence than species-based inferences. These results highlight the difference in scale between the information provided by each of these paleoenvironmental proxies. Our approach is transferable to other sites due to the increase number of available paleoclimate simulations.

Léa Terray et al.

Status: open (until 18 Jan 2023)

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Léa Terray et al.

Léa Terray et al.


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Short summary
The reconstruction of paleoenvironments has long been a subject of great interest, particularly to study the past biodiversity. Paleoenvironmental proxies often show inconsistencies and age estimations can vary depending on the method used. We show the potential of paleoclimate simulations to address those discrepancies, illustrating the strong potential of our cross-disciplinary consistency approach to refine the context of archaeo/paleontological sites.