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Dynamics of human settlements ensuing from river transformation and changes in commercial behaviour: The birth of the “North-eastern Silk Road”

2016, Rante, R., Fouache, E., Mirzaakhmedov, D.

This article focuses on the causes and dynamics of the origin of the caravan path linking Iranian cities to those of Central Asia from the northeast, to be more precise linking Nishapur and Merv to Bukhara and further to Samarkand, and thus overall linking Iran to China. It proposes to elucidate the causes and effects, which occurred after the appearance of what we could call the main arm of the Silk Road. After an analysis of the historical sources mentioning caravan routes crossing eastern Iran, Merv and Central Asia, this article presents the recent geo-archaeological results of the Archaeological Mission of the Bukhara Oasis (MAFOUB). Recent geomorphological discoveries have brought to light important morphological changes of the Zerafšan delta, to which are imputed major changes in human settlements and behaviours. By the 4th century BCE a huge human occupation of the oasis took place, which slightly later engendered a dynamic of massive urbanisation, rendering possible the connections between China and the Mediterranean Sea directly crossing the Bukhara Oasis. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd

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Early oleiculture or native wild Olea in eastern Maghreb: New pollen data from the sebkhalagoon Halk el Menjel (Hergla, Central Tunisia)

2015, Lebreton, V., Jaouadi, S., Mulazzani, S., Boujelben, A., Belhouchet, L., Gammar, A.M., Combourieu-Nebout, N., Saliège, J.-F., Karray, M.R., Fouache, E.

Pollen analyses from the sebkha-lagoon Halk El Menjel document the vegetation history in Central Tunisia, linked to climate change since the Middle Holocene. Steppes are the main biomes developed under semi-arid conditions between 4965 ± 35 and 3410 ± 40 BP. At 4365 ± 50 BP Pistacia is replaced by Olea and high representation of Olea pollen grains are reported between 4365 ± 50 and 3410 ± 40 BP, illustrating a humid episode at the Mid-to-Late Holocene transition. Thus, the semi-arid area of Central Tunisia could correspond to the native biome for oleasters at the beginning of the Late Holocene. Early olive cultivation is not yet evidenced in the Neolithic sites of the eastern Maghreb, and the Phoenicians are assumed to have introduced olive cultivars in Tunisia. However, an early cultivation of Olea from local native oleaster and dissemination of native cultivars in Central Tunisia can be hypothesised even if it has to be still demonstrated with further archaeological and archaeobotanical evidences. © 2015 Association for Environmental Archaeology.