Reconstruction of Climate, Vegetation and Fire Across Palaeolithic Transitions in the Indian Subcontinent

The Indian subcontinent occupies a key geographic location at the southern mid-point of Asia. With respect to human evolutionary studies, the subcontinent deserves consideration as a critical area for exploring hominin dispersal processes, particularly the migration of Homo sapiens during the Late Pleistocene. During the Middle and Late Pleistocene, there is emerging archaeological evidence for major technological transitions, changes in cultural adaptations, and varying settlement and subsistence patterns. Unfortunately, the climatic and environmental contexts of these cultural shifts remain poorly understood.

This project will seek to obtain novel information about the environments that hominins were occupying in India, allowing us to examine technological and behavioural changes. A range of multi-proxy palaeoenvironmental analyses will be conducted, including bulk isotopic analysis of soil organic matter (δ13C and δ15N values), compound-specific isotopic analysis (δ13C and δD values) of extracted leaf waxes, and soil carbonate isotopic analysis (δ13C and δ18O values). Palaeofire activities will be investigated using the extraction of macroscopic charcoal particles and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from sediments collected from the archaeological sites preserved in different parts of the Indian subcontinent.

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