The chronology of abrupt climate change and Late Upper Palaeolithic human adaptation in Europe

Simon P E Blockley, S. M. Blockley, R. E. Donahue, C. S. Lane, J. J. Lowe, A. M. Pollard

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This paper addresses the possible connections between the onset of human expansion in Europe following the Last Glacial Maximum, and the timing of abrupt climate warming at the onset of the Lateglacial (Bölling/ Allerød) Interstadial. There are opposing views as to whether or not human populations and activities were directly 'forced' by climate change, based on different comparisons between archaeological and environmental data. We review the geochronological assumptions and approaches on which data comparisons have been attempted in the past, and argue that the uncertainties presently associated with age models based on calibrated radiocarbon dates preclude robust testing of the competing models, particularly when comparing the data to non-radiocarbon-based timescales such as the Greenland ice core records. The paper concludes with some suggestions as to the steps that will be necessary if more robust tests of the models are to be developed in the future. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-584
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006


  • Human adaptation
  • IntCal04
  • Lake Suigetsu
  • Lateglacial
  • Palaeotemperature reconstruction
  • Radiocarbon calibration
  • Tephrochronology


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