Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


15 September 2010

Paleoenvironmental evolution and prehistoric human environment, in the embayment of Palamari (Skyros Island, Greece) during Middle-Late Holocene

Kosmas Pavlopoulos, Maria Triantaphyllou, Panagiotis Karkanas, Katerina Kouli, George Syrides, Kostantinos Vouvalidis, Nikos Palyvos, Theodora Tsourou Quaternary International 216.1-2 (1 April 2010): 41-53.


Palamari Bay is located on the northeastern coast of Skyros Island (Sporades Islands, Aegean Sea). At the northern edge of the bay a fortified prehistoric settlement is found, dated between 2800 and 1700 BC (Early Bronze Age II–Middle Bronze Age I). Detailed geomorphological mapping of the coastal alluvial plain and paleontological, micropaleontological, palynological, sedimentological and micromorphological studies of the Holocene coastal deposits have been conducted in order to reconstruct the palaeoenvironment and the landscape evolution of the broader area of Palamari Bay.

Three main sedimentary units were recognized (A, B and C, from oldest to youngest). The lowermost sedimentary unit A, deposited between before 7500 and 3500 cal BP, consists of sediment deposited from high to moderate energy fresh water flows with some suspended load fallout in established water bodies. The microfauna indicates a shallow fresh water environment. However, a tendency to oligohaline conditions was established gradually. During the same period, the Palamari area was characterized by open mixed deciduous forests that gradually retreated as a possible consequence of the intensification of anthropic activity, associated with the settlement of Palamari. Indications of cultivating and grazing activities in the vicinity of the lagoon were identified, pointing to a strong human presence since the Neolithic. Between about 6000 and 3500 cal BP, the embayment was a lagoon southeasterly connected to the sea, therefore sheltered and protected from northeastern winds. The overlying unit B (ca. 3500–800 cal BP) is characterized by the dominance of brackish water microfauna, indicating a brackish stagnant shallow water depositional environment, which was periodically supplied with fresh water from the surrounding springs. As the result of the continuous sea-level rise during the Late Holocene, part of the northern headland was submerged. The decline of the Palamari settlement at the time of the establishment of Unit B might be related to the observed changes that rendered the embayment a restricted body of water. The uppermost sedimentary unit C corresponds to a backshore environment dominated by aeolian activity modified by fluvial processes.


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