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June 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Historical Society Curator Writes about Anthropologist’s Work at Patton Bog

Bradley T. Lepper, curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society, wrote about research by two Ohio University anthropologists on June 15 in an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch titled “Ancient cultures affected by climate change, too.”

Climate change must have presented challenges as well as opportunities for ancient cultures , but can episodes of changing climate contribute to the rise and fall of civilizations?…

Ohio doesn’t have a comprehensive record of ancient tree rings to tell us how the climate has changed over time, but there are other ways of getting at that information.

Every spring, for example, pollen fills the air. Some of it settles to the bottom of ponds, where it can accumulate in layers of muck. These layers are like pages in a book, recording the plants growing near the pond from one year to the next.

Ohio University archaeologist Elliot Abrams and his colleagues studied pollen from Patton Bog in Athens County. Their results, published in the current issue of Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, indicate a change around 1000 B.C. from layers dominated by tree pollen to layers with grass pollen.

This change would have been a big problem for the ancient hunters and gatherers of southern Ohio who relied on nuts for much of their diet. Fewer trees mean fewer nuts.

Read the op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch.

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