Mediterranean landscapes have been characterized by the ongoing interaction between natural processes and anthropogenic activities over several thousands of years. However, separating the relative contributions of these two factors in shaping the landscape has proved to be difficult. With reference to three excavated probes located in the environs of the archaeological site of Tell es-Safi/Gath (central Israel), we outline a methodological approach that may aid in distinguishing between the impact of natural and anthropogenic agencies on the accumulation of sediment fills. We conclude that at Tell es-Safi/Gath, natural geomorphic processes were the major factors that shaped the landscape, but anthropogenic activity is expressed in a brief period of time as evidenced by a high sedimentation rate, combined with high δ13C values, a relatively high quantity of phytoliths, and a high concentration of charred particles. This anthropogenic signature is interpreted as resulting from the destruction of the site by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus (ca. late 9th century BCE). This research demonstrates how high-resolution multi-disciplinary sampling of probes for dating, C isotopic composition, phytolith characterization, pollen analysis and assessment of sedimentation rates, in combination with the study of human cultural history at an archaeological site, may facilitate the distinction between natural and anthropogenic causes of sedimentation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- C isotopic composition
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Tell es Safi/Gath