This project will employ a multidisciplinary approach in recording, modeling and assessing climatic and ecological changes in the region north of the Black Sea. This will involve investigating to what extent natural environmental changes are connected with the shift from mobile herding to sedentary culture in regional societies.
The natural vegetation of the region north of the Black Sea is characterized by a narrow belt of steppe bordered by a wooded steppe and cold mixed woodlands to the north. Archaeozoological data indicate that the subsistence strategies of the societies that settled this region shifted from sheep and goat herding to cattle herding in the middle to late Holocene. The reasons for the transition from mobile herding to sedentary cultures are poorly understood. This project will employ a multidisciplinary approach in examining a possible connection between this transition and climatic and ecological changes.
The goal is therefore to develop a complex chain of models consisting of regional climatic, vegetation, zoological and human-energy-balance models. Due to the inhomogeneity of the area in question, the first step will be to devise a regional climatic model for the region. Next, a vegetation model will be used in simulating changes to net primary production and to the biome – i.e. to unaffected natural vegetation – which were caused by regional climate changes. Research will then be conducted into various kinds of livestock, in order to assess how many animals of a given kind could be supported in the environment simulated by the vegetation model. Finally, experts in the fields of agricultural and food science will be consulted in estimating how many people could be supported by the available food supply.
To sum up, the research group will apply a transdisciplinary approach in examining various models of climate changes and in attempting to determine how those changes influenced subsistence strategies. The results will be discussed with project partners from the field of archaeology and will therefore contribute to a better understanding of cultural and economic changes in this region.