Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Anthropology

Advisor

Jesse Casana

Committee Member

Marvin Kay

Second Committee Member

Sonja Hausmann

Keywords

Social sciences; Earth sciences; Geoarchaeology; Gis; Soil science; Syria; Tell qarqur

Abstract

This project combines geoarchaeological soil description and GIS analysis of archaeological site distribution to investigate the history of marsh formation in the northern Ghab Basin, located within the Orontes River Valley of western Syria. Tell Qarqur, the archaeological site around which this project is focused, has a continuous occupational sequence throughout the Holocene. Annual inundation of the site by seasonal marshlands suggests that the marsh was either smaller or non-existent in the past, but its history remains unknown. The objectives of this investigation are to interpret the nature of depositional environments, particularly fluvial action, in the vicinity of Tell Qarqur, to interpret site distribution throughout the northern end of the valley based on surveyed sites identified in the Northern Ghab Regional Survey as they relate to water use and land availability, and to consider these data together to produce a record of periods of inundation and dryness in the northern Ghab Valley. GIS analysis confirms a transition from valley bottoms to upland occupation and a pattern of Hellenistic and Roman channel development. Description of sediments in a paleochannel of the Orontes River north of Tell Qarqur and floodplain deposition south and east of the site reveals a pattern of early-mid Holocene proximal overbank flood deposits followed by mid-late Holocene distal overbank deposits. There is a buried A horizon with mid-Holocene pottery between these periods, indicating a dry, stable surface occupied by humans. The floodplain profiles are rich in redoxymorphic features that indicate a fluctuating water table, documenting the presence of seasonal marshes. These results in correlation with GIS analysis of site distribution and floodplain surface in the Northern Ghab Valley reveal a complex relationship between humans and an aggrading floodplain environment.

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