Original paper

Late Pleistocene to Mid-Holocene landscape reconstruction in the western part of the Thessaloniki Plain, Greece: evidence for environmental changes, and implications for human occupation

Psomiadis, D.; Ghilardi, M.; Demory, F.; Delanghe-Sabatier, D.; Bloemendal, J.; Yiu, C.

Abstract

This study presents new data from four boreholes in order to investigate the palaeoenvironmental changes and landscape configuration from the Late Pleistocene to the Mid-Holocene in the western part of the Thessaloniki plain. Palaeoenvironmental and archaeological records from northern Greece document the occurrence of significant landscape changes during the Holocene. While traces of human occupation are scarce in the western Thessaloniki plain during the Pleistocene/Holocene transition, the climatic and environmental changes involved significant and abrupt impacts on surface processes. Recently published results indicated that palaeoenvironmental transitions in the area influenced the human occupation from the Early Holocene (8,000/7,800 cal. yr BP) to recent times. However, the Late Pleistocene landscape configuration has not been clearly established. A new sequence is used for analyses of grain size, loss-on-ignition, carbonate content and rock magnetic properties. In addition, a series of 6 new AMS dates from the area provide a precise chronostratigraphy. The synthesis of the environmental proxies reveals distinct palaeoenvironmental changes within a well-constructed chronostratigraphic framework of more than 10 k years, which is the longest sedimentary sequence reported for central Macedonia. The Late Pleistocene subsurface occurs at ∼ 9 m depth and clearly indicates the presence of a large alluvial fan deposited by the Aliakmon River during the Younger Dryas (12.7 k – 11.7 kyr BP). The abrupt transition to Early Holocene sediments reveals that a significant influx of fresh water generated a limnic sedimentary environment under detrital and human stress, from pre- to post-reforestation period in the area. Anthropogenic influence is also significantly recorded mainly by the magnetic properties of the lacustrine sediments after 9,000 cal. yr BP.

Keywords

geoarchaeologyholocenelate pleistocenemagnetic parametersneolithicnorthern greecepalaeoenvironmentsedimentologythessaloniki plain