Pleistocene Environments Project

Location: Kula; Manisa Province

Years: 2005-2009

Director: Darrel Maddy, Tuncer Demir

Participants: David Keen, Danielle Schreve, Tom Veldkamp, Ian Candy, Emma Pearson, Rob Scaife, Douwe van Hinsbergen, John Pieper, Dominik Fleitmann

Summary:

In 2005 a new project dealing with climate and environmental change was initiated in the Gediz river valley.  In many instances, the geological record is one of the most insightful evidences into the history of the region and it was with the intent of  “unlocking sedimentary codes” to reconstruct the regional environmental and climate changes that fieldwork was begun in western Anatolia.  Specifically, the team intended to extract records of palaeoenvironmental or climate change for the last 2.4 million years by looking at deposits found in the Gediz river drainage system. 

In May 2005, the first season of work, the aim was to determine first if well preserved indicators of climate change existed in the region.  Team members sampled sediment with the intent of learning whether it contained palaeovegetation.  An outcrop of travertine was discovered that related directly to the early Pleistocene sequence; this was important because travertines contain faunal remains, and can yield information through their geochemistry.  Fieldwork was continued in September, when they searched for outcrops and faunal remains.  No large mammal remains were found, but they did find collections of molluscan fossils, which contained data potentially useful for reconstructing the environment.  Overall, traditional methods like floral and faunal analysis appeared to be helpful only in a limited way, though team members hoped to use newer techniques (such as isotopic composition change analysis or searching for molecular biomarkers) in order to glean information from the samples they collected in order to learn more about the environmental conditions during the formation of the terrace or alluvial fan.

2006 fieldwork saw the continued study of samples for palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental data, in addition to a preliminary survey of materials that could be used for estimating age and reconstructing a geochronology for the sequence.  During 2006 they sampled sequences for palaeosols and also studied the chemistry of the carbonate deposits.  Two types of palaeosols were found.  Two outreach events were held: the Kula Symposium, 1-3 September, and the fifth annual conference of the Fluvial Archives Group, 11-16 September. 

The third season of fieldwork occurred in 2007.  Researchers focused on studying two sources: the palaeosol/calcrete records that could be found preserved beneath basalt on the river terrace sequence, and the palaeoenvironmental signals found in the travertine geochemistry.  These methodologies were both sophisticated and innovative.  A complex sequence of soil formation was identified from the sediments overlying the Gediz terrace. 

During 2008 the aim was to understand more of the climatic and stratigraphic importance of the palaeosol and travertine sequences.  A palaeomagnetic study of the basalts was also introduced.  The time period under study, 1.2 to 1.0 million years ago, was especially significant because this was the period when 40ka climate cycles mostly switched to the 100ka climate cycle system – the one still in use today.  Few terrestrial data sources document this change.  During this season the description and interpretation of the palaesol sequence was nearly completed.  Travertine depositions were both sampled and studied.  The palaeomagnetic record preserved in volcanic lavas was also studied as a way of increasing the resolution of the chronology. 

The fifth and final year of fieldwork took place in 2009.  This year was eventful for the discovery of some human artefacts in the region, including a flake from deposits one million years old – possibly the earliest evidence of human occupation in Turkey.  The season’s aims were to refine Early Pleistocene chronologies and to continue to study the travertines.  They analysed 14 of the 98 lava samples, and nearly all provided very reliable data.  Team members also conducted an extensive sampling programme, obtaining over 200 samples for various analyses: palaeomagentic and magnetic susceptibility measurements, stable isotope analysis, and pollen and biomarker analysis.  Overall, the project was very successful in further elucidating the nature of early Pleistocene environments in the Gediz valley.

Sources:

Anatolian Archaeology 11: 9-11; 12: 6-8; 13: 8-10; 14: 6-7; 15: 4-5


Bibliography:

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, T., Stemerdink, C., Van der Schriek, T., Westaway, R. 2005: ‘An obliquity-controlled Early Pleistocene river terrace record from western Turkey’ Quaternary Research 63:339-46

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, T., Stemerdink, C., Van der Schriek, T., Westaway, R. (forthcoming): ‘The Early Pleistocene development of the Gediz river, western Turkey: An uplift-driven, climate-controlled system?’ Quaternary International

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, T., Stemerdink, C., Van der Schriek, T., Westaway, R. 2005: ‘An obliquity-controlled Early Pleistocene river terrace record from western Turkey’ Quaternary Research 63: 339-46

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, T., Stemerdink, C., Van der Schriek, T., Westaway, R. (IN PRESS A): ‘The Early Pleistocene development of the Gediz river, western Turkey: an uplift-driven climate-controlled system?’ Quaternary International

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, T., Stemerdink, C., Van der Schriek, T. 2007: ‘The Pliocene initiation and Early Pleistocene volcanic disruption of the palaeo-Gediz fluvial system, western Turkey’ Quaternary Science Reviews 26: 2864-82

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, T., Stemerdink, C., Van der Schriek, T., Westaway, R. 2007b in press: ‘The Pliocene initiation and Early Pleistocene volcanic disruption of the palaeo-Gediz fluvial system, western Turkey’ Quaternary Science Reviews

Maddy, D., Demir, T., Bridgland, D.R., Veldkamp, T., Stemerdink, C., Van der Schriek, T., Westaway, R. 2008: ‘The Early Pleistocene development of the Gediz river, western Turkey: an uplift-driven, climate-controlled system?’ Quaternary International 189: 115-28

Veldkamp, A., Candy, I., Jongmans, A.G., Maddy, D., Demir, T., Schoorl, J.M., Schreve, D., Stemerdink, C., van der Schriek, T. (submitted): ‘Reconstructing terrestrial environmental change between 1.0-1.2 Ma in western Anatolia’ Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

Westaway, R., Guillou, H., Yurtmen, S., Beck, A., Bridgland, D.R., Demir, T., Scaillet, S., Rowbotham, R. 2006: ‘Late Cenozoic uplift of western Turkey: improved dating of the Kula Quaternary volcanic field and numerical modelling of the Gediz river terrace staircase’ Global and Planetary Change 51: 131-71

Maddy, D., Schreve, D., Demir, T., Veldkamp, T. (in preparation): ‘The earliest humans in Turkey’


Prof. Darrel Maddy received his Ph.D from Royal Holloway.University of London in 1989 and completed several postdoctoral positions prior to arriving in Newcastle in 1998 where he was appointed as Lecturer in the Geography Department. He received his personal Chair of Quaternary Science in 2005. He is an expert on Quaternary fluvial system development leading projects sponsored by the BIAA on the Gediz River (2005-2010) of Western Turkey and the Kura River (2013-2016) of North Eastern Turkey. Both of these projects focused on the pivotal role played by climate change, tectonics and volcanism in driving river system change. These observations provide critical insights into the context for early hominin dispersal and migration across Anatolia.

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