Late Holocene Climate Variability and Its Impact on Cultural Dynamics of Central India

Dipti Behera1, Anoop Ambili1, Sharmila Bhattacharhya1, Praveen Mishra2, Pandurang Sabale3

1Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, India

2Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology

3Deccan College, India

Understanding long-term climate variability has the potential to provide valuable new perspectives on possible responses of human societies to modern climate changes. The present study, based on the geochemical and sedimentological analyses of well dated (using AMS 14C and optically stimulated luminescence-OSL dates) fluvial and alluvial sediments from Sina River (in Maharashtra, central India) provides a detailed understanding of complex interplay between climate and cultural dynamics during the late Holocene in the region. The results of the OSL dating indicate that the sediment sequence was deposited over a relatively long period of time (~7.5±0.4 ka) with evidence of human occupation of the site identified in the upper layers, and dated to the Medieval period (~1600 to 950 cal yr BP) through radiocarbon dating of organic residues in pottery sherds (several other cultural materials including shell bangles and copper artefacts were studied as part of this project). Temporal changes in the frequency and abundance of cultural materials in the fluvial section during the medieval period suggests that the human populations attempted to adapt to the fluctuating climate conditions evident in the palaeoenvironmental reconstruction for the region. The regional comparison of geo-archaeological data sets shows a pronounced weakening of the monsoonal rainfall during the Late Holocene, which coincides with the disruption, migration, and resettlement of indigenous societies.