Holocene climate variability in Sicily from a discontinuous stalagmite record and the Mesolithic to Neolithic transition


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Quaternary Research

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Fabric and stable isotopic composition of a Holocene stalagmite (CR1) from a cave in northern Sicily record changes in paleorainfall in the early Holocene. High δ13C stable isotope values in the calcite deposited from ca. 8500 to ca. 7500 yr ago are interpreted as reflecting periods of high rainfall. The wet phase was interrupted by two periods of multi-century duration characterized by relatively cool and dry winters centered at ca. 8200 and ca. 7500 yr ago, highlighted by low δ13C and δ18O values. A high variability of δ13C values is recorded from ca. 7500 to ca. 6500 yr ago and indicates that the transition from a pluvial early Holocene to the present-day climate conditions was punctuated by decadal-scale periods of relatively dry winters. In northern Sicily, the traditional elements of the Neolithic appear at ca. 7700 yr ago. It is possible that changes in rainfall influenced the passage from hunter-gathering to farming and sheep-herding economies.

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