Berenice of Aquaterra: Crossroads of Antiquity

Authors: Jerome Dobson*, University of Kansas, Giorgio Spada, Urbino University "Carlo Bo", Gaia Galassi, Urbino Universtiy "Carlo Bo"
Topics: Paleoenvironmental Change, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Coastal and Marine
Keywords: Aquaterra, ice ages, sea level, historical geography, prehistoric settlement and transport
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Napoleon B2, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Aquaterra is the collective name for all lands that were inundated and exposed repeatedly during the Late Pleistocene ice ages from the first appearance of modern humans through today. As water is retained and then released by continental ice sheets, a “vast millennial tide” causes landmasses as large as continents to disappear and reappear in repeating cycles. Increasing recognition of this massive global feature, equivalent to North America in size, encourages strategic thought and holistic research on the paleogeography of ice age lands. Surely such enormous shifts of landmass configurations and aggregate land areas must cause corresponding changes in geographic patterns of transport, migration, communication, trade, social interaction, defensive posture, and other forces and factors that are fundamental to the human geography of each passing age. Here, I illustrate with an example that is local and specific yet global in its implications. I ask what impact the changing configuration of coasts would have had on local, regional, and global patterns of transport. I answer by comparing the global chokepoints of today with those of 20,000 BP during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). One site emerges as the most altered of all world passages: Crossing back and forth between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean would have followed entirely different routes from those favored today. Implications include fundamental answers to questions such as where to search for submerged evidence of human occupance.

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