Climate change and human response at the pleistocene-holocene transition in the Belgian Meuse basin (13,000-6000 cal BP)

Klimaatverandering en menselijke adaptatie op de overgang pleistoceen-holoceen in de Belgische Maasvallei (13.000-6000 jaar geleden)
Start - End 
2023 - 2026 (ongoing)
Department of Archaeology
Other institution(s) 
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Research group(s) 
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Region 
Additional tags 
Lithic analysis



This interdisciplinary project aims at investigating climate variability on a local/regional level and its impact on human lifeways at the transition from the Pleistocene (Younger Dryas) to the Early Holocene in the Meuse valley of southern Belgium. Climate reconstruction, focusing on the detection of Rapid Climate Changes (RCCs) will be conducted through high-resolution analyses of trace elements and stable isotopes from speleothems. This will be combined with high-precision U/Th datings, allowing to reconstruct RCCs at decadal to subdecadal resolution. This newly developed local paleoclimate record will serve as a base for investigating the human response to these RCCs. Therefor a high-precision chronology for the human occupation of the Meuse valley will be elaborated, by means of AMS-radiocarbon dating of mainly animal bones preserved in caves, rock-shelters and wetland locations used by hunter-gatherers. Based on this chronology, stone assemblages from these contexts will be selected for in-depth analysis into the knapping technologies and raw material procurement and circulation. Changes in lithic technology and raw material will subsequently be aligned with the paleoclimate record in view of assessing the synchronicity between RCCs and human behaviour and explore a potential causality. Using local climate proxies this project is unique as it will make climate change archaeological research less dependent on distant climatic records, e.g. the Greenland ice core record.




Sophie Verheyden