Lake Kinneret, also known as the Sea of Galilee and Lake Tiberias, is located in the northeast of Israel. At a lake level of 211 m b.s.l. (below mean sea level), the central basin is 43 m deep. The maximum length of the lake is 21 km (N–S) and its maximum width is 12 km (W–E). Lake Kinneret’s surface area is 166 km . A new 17.8 m long sedimentary core was drilled in 2010. Here, we present the entire palynological record from it, which covers the last ~ 9,000 years. Special emphasis is given to the natural and human-influenced vegetation history of Galilee in comparison to that of the more southerly Dead Sea region. Significant signs of human impact are the first Olea (olive) increase during the beginning of the Chalcolithic period between 7,000 and 6,500 years ago, as well as the prominent Olea phase during the Hellenistic/Roman/Byzantine period between 2,300 and 1,500 years ago. Mediterranean macchia and bathas scrub vegetation, as known in the area today, has developed in the southern Levant under human impact since the last ca. 1,500 years. Keywords Southern Levant · Sea of Galilee · Pollen analysis · Holocene Introduction obtained in 1999, representing the last ca. 6,500 years. Neu- mann et al. (2007a) presented the detailed palynology and The southern Levantine region between the Dead Sea and environmental history, including evidence of human impact Mt. Hermon, including the river Jordan catchment area, is for the same time interval. In addition, a new botanical and an excellent laboratory for the study of Holocene vegeta- climatological transfer function has been applied to recon- tion and climate history in the Near East. Several plant geo- struct climate variations in the northern Golan Heights area graphical territories converge in this region due to the steep based on this pollen record (Neumann et al. 2007a). gradient of precipitation (Zohary 1982). Furthermore, the Pollen diagrams are also available from the west shore of Levant and its surrounding region is the cradle of agriculture the Dead Sea, which allow a reliable reconstruction of the and human impact, which extend back about 11,000 years vegetation history of the past 3,500 years (late Holocene); (Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen 1992). longer Holocene records are discontinuous (Baruch 1990; In contrast to the Upper Pleistocene, where the palynolog- Heim et al. 1997; Neumann et al. 2007b, 2010; Langgut ical data base is still rather poor, present knowledge of the et al. 2014). A 21 m sediment core taken from the Dead Holocene vegetation and climate history has been steadily Sea shore near Ein Gedi provides the most continuous and increasing recently. Sedimentological and initial palynologi- best dated palynological record of nearly the entire Holo- cal data from Birkat Ram, on the Golan Heights (Schwab cene period in the southern Levant (Litt et al. 2012). The et al. 2004) are based on a series of short sediment cores chronology of the core is based on AMS radiocarbon ages of terrestrial organic debris, counts of annual laminae and comparison to historical earthquakes (Migowski et al. 2004, Communicated by F. Bittmann. 2006). The results show the natural and human influence on vegetation changes during the Holocene from ~ 10 ka cal bp * Thomas Litt to the present. Due to the large catchment size of the Dead email@example.com Sea drainage basin, the pollen sequence in the sediments is Steinmann Institute of Geology, Mineralogy considered to serve as a recorder of the regional palaeocli- and Paleontology, University of Bonn, Nussallee 8, mate based on biome models (Litt et al. 2012). 53115 Bonn, Germany Vol.:(0123456789) 1 3 578 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 A prominent pollen record is available from Lake Hula vegetation history of Galilee related to the regional climate in the northern Jordan valley (Baruch and Bottema 1999). development as shown in the Kinneret lake level record It begins, however, in the early Holocene and not during the (Hazan et al. 2005). Regarding human impact, we evaluate Late Glacial, as discussed in a revision of the chronology by the start of Olea (olive) cultivation at the Late Neolithic/ Van Zeist et al. (2009). Early Chalcolithic transition, as well as the further develop- A new pollen record from the southwestern shore of the ment of the cultural landscape until the establishment of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret) has been published by Mie- present-day Mediterranean vegetation of macchia or bathas bach et al. (2017). The core comprises a continuous sedi- scrub, based on the pollen signal in conjunction with the ment profile of mainly laminated authigenic calcites (formed archaeological setting. The comparisons to the more south- in situ) and detrital material that was deposited between ern Dead Sea records as shown in the well-dated Ein Gedi ca. 28,000 and 22,500 cal bp , when the Sea of Galilee rose pollen profile (Litt et al. 2012) as well as to the Holocene above the modern lake level and temporarily merged with lake level curve (Kushnir and Stein 2010; Stein et al. 2010) Lake Lisan, the precursor of the Dead Sea. Concerning are also taken into account to show similarities and differ - the Holocene vegetation history of Lake Kinneret, Baruch ences of the vegetation signals related to the steep climatic (1986) analysed a 4 m sediment core, which covers only the gradient in the southern Levant. late Holocene, the last 4,000 years. In 2010, a new 17.8 m long sedimentary core was drilled in the deepest part of Lake Area of work Kinneret. Preliminary results have so far been published only for the time interval related to the so-called “Late Bronze Lake Kinneret, also known as the Sea of Galilee and Lake Age Collapse” at 3,200 cal bp (Langgut et al. 2013). Tiberias, is a hard water lake located in the northeast of In this study, we present the entire palynological Israel (Fig. 1). It is a relic of variously sized water bod- sequence obtained from the Kinneret core which covers the ies which filled the tectonic depressions along the Dead last ~ 9,000 years. Based on an excellent chronology, spe- Sea Transform Fault (DST) since the Neogene (Hazan cial emphasis is given to the natural and human-influenced et al. 2005). The modern Lake Kinneret occupies one of Fig. 1 a Map of Israel and adjacent areas showing relevant cities (circle), rivers, and moun- tains (triangle); b Lake Kinneret including bathymetric data and the core site (red star) in the middle of the lake 1 3 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 579 a series of pull-apart basins along the DST. At a lake level strongly influence the regional climate and therefore veg- of 211 m b.s.l. (below mean sea level), the central basin is etation (Zohary 1982; Van Zeist and Bottema 1991). Here, 43 m deep. The maximum length of the lake is 21 km (N–S) the altitudinal gradient from 1,208 m a.s.l. (above mean sea and its maximum width 12 km (W–E). The surface area level) on mount Meron, Upper Galilee, to the lowest depres- of Lake Kinneret is 166 km and contains a water body of sion of Earth’s continental surface level at − 430 m a.s.l. 6 3 4.1 × 10 m . It is monomictic lake (that mixes from top to (Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research 2017) and bottom once a year), with a stratification from mid-March the resultant steep slopes cause considerably high sensitivity to late December (Nishri et al. 1999). The catchment area is and variability of the vegetation composition (Fig. 2a, b). 2,760 m . Most of the inflow, amounting to approximately Regional climate conditions have a particularly strong 6 3 477 × 10 m /year, comes from the river Jordan and only influence on the vegetation distribution. The eastern small amounts flow in from other streams and seasonal Mediterranean region includes a transitional climate zone floods (16%), direct rainfall (9%) and subaqueous springs between the North African deserts and the central Euro- (8%). The average precipitation over the Kinneret area is pean West Wind Drift (Boucher 1975). During the sum- 6 3 400 mm per year, and evaporation amounts to 250 × 10 m / mer, the northern position of the North African subtropi- year ± 10% (Stiller et al. 1988, 2001). Between 1970 and cal high pressure atmospheric system covers the eastern 1995, the average residence time of water was 5.5 years Mediterranean, which results in high temperatures and (Nishri et al. 1999). widespread droughts there (Rohling et al. 2009). The wind The southern Levant can be subdivided into longitudinal system affecting Israel is part of a general westerly air topographic patterns which run north to south and which flow, typical of the eastern Mediterranean basin (Levantine Fig. 2 a Map of Israel and adjacent areas indicating mean annual pre- are named after the most frequent zone in combination with the sec- cipitation in mm/year (after Jaffe 1988); b distribution of vegetation ond most frequent one in brackets; SA(IT) transition Saharo-Arabian zones in Israel and adjacent areas: M Mediterranean zone, IT Irano- zone to Irano-Turanian zone, SA(M) transition Saharo-Arabian zone to Turanian zone, SA Saharo-Arabian zone, S Sudano-Zambesian veg- Mediterranean zone etation zone (after Danin 1988). Composite zones such as M (M-IT) 1 3 580 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 basin) during summer. The westerly to north-westerly zone in combination with the second most frequent one in winds reach the Jordan Rift Valley as hot winds with high brackets (Fig. 2b). speeds (50 km/h on average) and superimpose diurnal ele- In general, the composition of the potential natural veg- ments on the local wind systems (Bitan 1974). Climatic etation depends on climatic factors such as temperature, conditions during the winter are less stable, because the precipitation, geology and soil. In the southern Levant, pre- subtropical high pressure system is displaced southwards cipitation is the main limiting factor for the presence and to North Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean is exposed growth of plants. Human impact has affected the vegetation to intensive cyclonic activity (Bitan 1981). The winds since the Neolithic (Bar-Yosef 1995; Rollefson and Köhler- crossing the north–south mountain ridges cause intensive Rollefson 1992). Therefore, reconstructing the potential winter rainfall over the Levant (Sharon and Kutiel 1986). natural plant cover is rather complicated. The rainy season lasts from the end of October to early May and 70% of the annual precipitation falls between December and February (Karmon 1994). In Israel, lati- Materials and methods tude, altitude and topographic conditions cause steep gradients in temperature and precipitation. The average Coring annual temperature increases from less than 16 °C in the north to approximately 23 °C in the south (Zohary 1962). The sediment cores were obtained during a drilling cam- Within a range of 4° of latitude, average annual precipi- paign in March 2010, as part of the Collaborative Research tation decreases from more than 1,000 mm in the north- Centre project CRC 806 “Our Way to Europe”, funded by the ern mountainous regions to approximately 25 mm in the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). For the drilling southernmost part of Israel, the Negev desert (Fig. 2a). at the Lake Kinneret core site (32°49′13.8″N, 35°35′19.7″E, Snow fall almost only occurs over the northernmost part ca 38.8 m water depth; Fig. 1), we used the Universal Sam- of the Golan. pling Platform (http://www.uwitec.at) and associated tools These conditions result in the exceptionally diverse veg- produced by UWITEC. The drilling was carried out by using etation of Israel. Danin and Plitmann (1987) and Danin a gravity corer to recover short cores and a piston corer to (1988) revised previous classifications of the phyto- obtain long cores. Plastic liners with a length of 2 m and geographical regions (Zohary 1962) and subdivided the diameters of 90 mm and/or 60 mm were used. The sediment flora of Israel into seven vegetation zones with particular cores were taken back to Germany and opened in the pollen environmental requirements (Fig. 2b), two of which are laboratory at the University of Bonn. The archive half of relevant for our area of work: each core segment was used for non-destructive analyses such as magnetic susceptibility, and the other half was sam- 1. Mediterranean (M) plants, which are distributed around pled for pollen analyses. the Mediterranean Sea. At the Kinneret core site we obtained two parallel cores, 2. Irano-Turanian (IT) plants, which also grow on the Asian Ki10 I (13.3 m core recovery) and Ki10 II (17.8 m core steppes of the Syrian desert, in Iran and in Anatolia in recovery), which were taken at a distance of 2 m from each eastern Turkey. other. From these, a 17.8 m composite profile was developed (Fig. 3), from which we took pollen samples every 25 cm. A The Mediterranean (M) territory, in which average pre- detailed sedimentological description of the sediment cores cipitation exceeds 300 mm per year, is dominated by mac- was done, which showed that the upper 25 cm was varved. chia (maquis) and batha evergreen scrub vegetation (Danin The varves are assumed to have formed after the damming 1988). The main taxa are Quercus ithaburensis and Q. of the natural outflow by the National Water Carrier in 1964 boisseri, (deciduous oaks), Q. calliprinos, (evergreen oak), (Ami Nishri, personal communication). Below the varved as well as Olea europaea (olive). Further characteristic section, the sediment cores consisted of homogenous greyish taxa are Pistacia lentiscus, Arbutus andrachne, Cerato- to brown silts and clays. No major changes in appearance, nia siliqua, Pinus halepensis and Sarcopoterium spino- colour or texture were found. sum (Danin 1988; Zohary 1982). Characteristic taxa of the Irano-Turanian (IT) territory, in which average annual Magnetic susceptibility precipitation ranges between 300 and 150 mm, are Artemi- sia herba-alba, Thymelaea hirsuta, Achillea santolina and The high resolution magnetic susceptibility data set pro- some Poaceae and Chenopodiaceae (Danin 1988; Zohary duced at the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy at the 1982). Danin (1988) further subdivides the vegetation University of Cologne was used for the correlation of zones by adding composite zones in the transitional areas, the parallel cores and for the definition of the Lake Kin- such as M(M-IT), which are named after the most frequent neret composite profile (Fig. 3). Measurements on the 1 3 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 581 stored in glycerol. At least 500 pollen grains per sample were counted using transmitted light microscopy with a Leica DME and a Zeiss Lab.A1 AX10, at 400× magnifica- tion. Pollen grains were identified to the highest possible systematic level. The extensive comparative collection of palynomorphs available at the Department of Paleobotany and Palynology at the Steinmann Institute, University of Bonn, was used as reference for identification. In addition, various textbooks of circum-Mediterranean pollen grains were used (Reille 1992; Moore et al. 1991; Beug 2004). Pol- len diagrams were plotted with Tilia 1.7.14 by Eric (Grimm 2011, Illinois State Museum, Springfield). The definitions of the lower boundaries of local pollen assemblage zones (LPAZs) were defined visually and then verified by cluster analysis using thresholds (CONISS) (Grimm 1987). Radiocarbon dating Ten macrofossil remains of terrestrial plants and 21 sam- ples of bulk organic material were AMS radiocarbon dated, mainly in Kiel, with additional datings done in Zürich and London (Table 1). Pre-treatment of plant macrofossils included dispersion of samples in de-ionized water and elimination of mechanical contaminants such as associated sediments. Subsequently, hot HCl was used to remove car- bonates and NaOH to remove secondary organic acids. Bulk sample sediments were also dispersed in de-ionized water and repeatedly treated with HCl at 60 °C to remove carbon- ates. The remaining carbon in each sample was burned at Fig. 3 Construction of the Lake Kinneret composite profile. The two 900 °C in a quartz ampoule filled with copper oxide (CuO) parallel cores (Ki10 1 and Ki10 II) were correlated based on magnetic and silver wool. The resulting C O was reduced to graphite susceptibility (SI, black line). The beige-coloured sections constitute at 600 °C, and counted by AMS. The AMS results, which the composite profile; the green-coloured sections mark the core fill- 14 13 12 are ratios of C, C and C, were compared to an oxalic ing compounds acid standard. The received data were corrected for isotopic 13 12 fractionation using the simultaneously measured C/ C longitudinally split core surfaces were carried out using a ratio, which includes effects occurring during graphitisa- spot-reading Bartington MS2E sensor. The response area tion and within AMS processes. All C ages were calculated of the sensor was 3.8 × 10.5 mm, and the operating fre- after Stuiver and Polach (1977) and calibrated by the ‘clam’ quency 2 kHz. At a vertical depth of 1 mm, the response is software based on the IntCal09 calibration curve (Blaauw reduced by approximately 50%, and the reduction at a depth 2010; Reimer et al. 2009). Data were computed at a 95% of 3.5 mm is approximately 90%. Data were measured at confidence interval (2σ), and intermediate values were estab- 1 mm intervals with a period of 15 s. lished by linear interpolation between dated levels of the age-depth curve (Fig. 4). Pollen analyses Sediment cores were sampled for pollen analyses at 25 cm Results intervals. Average sample volume was approximately 5 cm . Chemical treatment followed the standard procedure accord- Chronology ing to Faegri and Iversen (1989), including application of 10% HCl, 10% KOH, 40% HF and acetolysis [C H O The occurrence of Eucalyptus pollen in the uppermost sam- 4 6 3 (conc.) and H SO (conc.), ratio 9:1]. Ultrasonic sieving ple proves the recent age of the sediment to water interface 2 4 was carried out twice during the procedure using 200 and of the Kinneret core. A neophyte in the Near East, Eucalyp- 10 µm meshes. The samples were stained with safranin and tus is native to Australia and was introduced to the area by 1 3 582 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 Table 1 Radiocarbon dates using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) from Lake Kinneret Lab. Lab. code Depth (cm) Age ( C yrs bp ) Material Kiel KIA48027 4.5 880 ± 30 Bulk, humic acid Kiel KIA48028 98.5 1,470 ± 30 Bulk sediment 1,480 ± 35 Humic acid Kiel KIA48029 199.5 2,175 ± 30 Bulk sediment 2,190 ± 40 Humic acid Kiel KIA48030 304.5 2,670 ± 25 Bulk sediment 2,870 ± 25 Humic acid London Beta-327805 357.5 2,990 ± 30 Total bulk sedi- ment Kiel KIA44213 359.5 2,155 ± 25 Plant remains Kiel KIA48031 394.5 3,275 ± 30 Bulk sediment 3,315 ± 30 Humic acid Zurich ETH48430 397.05 2,123 ± 38 Plant remains Kiel KIA48032 494.5 3,545 ± 30 Bulk sediment 3,615 ± 25 Humic acid Kiel KIA48033 605.5 4,515 ± 35 Bulk, humic acid Fig. 4 Age-depth model of the Lake Kinneret composite profile based Kiel KIA48034 705.5 4,910 ± 30 Bulk, humic on calibrated radiocarbon dates. Shown are the dates from terrestrial acid plant remains are shown as red squares, from total bulk organic mate- Zurich ETH48434 752.0 3,474 ± 104 Plant remains rial as blue squares and from the humic acid fraction based dates Kiel KIA48035 793.5 3,800 ± 45 Plant remains from bulk organic material (partly two measurements each sample; black and white squares). Error bars indicate 2σ range. The black 4,765 ± 30 Bulk sediment arrows display the reservoir correction at the depth horizons 358, 794 4,795 ± 30 Humic acid and 944 cm with both plant macrofossil and bulk organic samples Zurich ETH48433 798.5 3,832 ± 32 Plant remains Kiel KIA48036 890.5 5,740 ± 40 Bulk, humic acid the end of the 19th century. It was planted by Jewish settlers Zürich ETH48429 901.0 4,086 ± 42 Plant remains to drain swampy land in northern Israel at the beginning of London Beta-336208 921.0 4,230 ± 30 Plant remains the 20th century, and since that time it has been a compo- London Beta-327806 943.5 5,800 ± 40 Total bulk sedi- nent of the modern pollen rain (Horowitz 1979). For dating ment the rest of the core, we could only analyse ten usable plant Kiel KIA44214 945.0 4,165 ± 40 Plant remains macrofossil remains of terrestrial origin. For the other dates, Kiel KIA44215 946.5 4,100 ± 25 Plant remains bulk organic material was used for AMS dating (Table 1). Kiel KIA48037 992.5 5,900 ± 40 Bulk sediment As the age-depth distribution of dates from the bulk samples 5,900 ± 35 Humic acid is clearly linear (Fig. 4), an almost stable sedimentation rate Kiel KIA44216 993.5 5,870 ± 60 Plant remains Kiel KIA48038 1,093.5 6,655 ± 45 Bulk sediment can be assumed. From a sedimentological point of view, this 7,145 ± 45 Humic acid assumption is supported by the homogenous nature of the Kiel KIA48039 1,181.5 7,145 ± 50 Bulk sediment deposited sediments. Consequently, the age-depth distribu- 7,140 ± 40 Humic acid tion of terrestrial macrofossil remains, including the recent Kiel KIA48040 1,277.5 7,675 ± 40 Bulk, humic age of the sediment to water interface, can also be assumed acid to be linear. Kiel KIA48041 1,378.5 7,700 ± 40 Bulk sediment Radiocarbon ages from both plant remains and from bulk 7,705 ± 40 Humic acid sediments from the same sample could be measured at three Kiel KIA48042 1,472.5 8,480 ± 45 Bulk sediment depth horizons, at 358, 794 and 944 cm. This allowed us 8,540 ± 45 Humic acid to estimate the reservoir correction based on the difference Kiel KIA48043 1,572.5 8,860 ± 45 Bulk sediment between the dates of plant remains and bulk sediment sam- 8,910 ± 45 Humic acid ples. Thus, the magnitude of the reservoir effect at 358 cm Kiel KIA48045 1,777.5 9,805 ± 45 Bulk sediment 9,855 ± 45 Humic acid is 835 years, at 794 cm it is 965 years, and at 944 cm 1,635 years (Fig. 4). Although reservoir effects are in general Shown are the sample identifier (Lab ID), the composite depth in cm, 14 highly variable through time (Geyh et al. 1998), the result- the C ages in bp , the investigating lab and the type of analysed mate- ing regression lines of both data sets based on bulk sedi- rial. Some samples were dated twice ments and terrestrial plant macrofossils point to a slightly 1 3 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 583 Fig. 5 The complete pollen diagram of Lake Kinneret. The local pol- ▸ len assemblage zones (LPAZs) are shown on the right but constantly greater reservoir correction at increasing depth (Fig. 4). Assumptions concerning the magnitude of the reservoir effects of the Lake Kinneret water and depos- ited sediments diverge to some degree (Stiller et al. 2001; Lev et al. 2007). However, neither the evolution of lake level nor carbonate source system are entirely understood so far (Hazan 2004; Hazan et al. 2005). Assuming a linear age-depth distribution of dates and an increasing reservoir effect, an age-depth model was developed, resulting in the linear regression line: y (depth) = 0.1967 × (age). This reservoir correction model has also been used for the lower part of the sediment profile where no radiocarbon data from terrestrial macrofossils are available. Based on these calculations, the whole sequence covers the last ca. 9,000 cal years (Fig. 4). Pollen analysis Percentages of pollen types have been calculated according to total terrestrial pollen sums, which include arboreal (AP) and non-arboreal (NAP) pollen taxa, excluding aquatic taxa as well as unidentified pollen grains. The pollen record can be subdivided into five palynostratigraphic units, or local pollen assemblage zones (LPAZs) (Fig. 5; Table 2). These LPAZs are distinguished either by the specific composition of taxa (“assemblage zone”) or by significant changes of frequency of particular taxa (“abundance zone”) (Murphy and Salvador 1999; Steininger and Piller 1999). The zona- tion of the Lake Kinneret pollen record is mainly based on pollen percentages of O. europaea, Q. ithaburensis-type, Q. calliprinos-type and the AP/NAP ratio. Descriptions of the pollen assemblage zones as well as the criteria used for defining the lower boundaries are given in Table 2. Discussion 9,000–7,000 cal bp (Pottery Neolithic period) The predominance of Poaceae, Chenopodiaceae and Cicho- rioideae pollen indicates the strong influence of steppe veg- etation in the catchment area. This vegetation zone can be assumed to have stretched around the shore of Lake Kinneret and to have been part of the understorey of the open wood- lands on the slopes of the mountain ranges within the Irano- Turanian biome. As well as being part of the regional veg- etation, pollen grains of steppe taxa could have been brought in via long distance transport from Syrian steppe regions (Baruch 1986). The source area of Q. ithaburensis-type pol- len in the Lake Kinneret record would have been on the 1 3 584 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 Table 2 Description of the local pollen assemblage zones (LPAZs) in the Lake Kinneret record (AP arboreal pollen, NAP non-arboreal pollen; see also Fig. 5) Local Pollen Assemblage Depth (cm) Lower boundary Features AP (min. to max.) Features NAP (min. to max.) Zone (LPAZ) 5 Quercus calliprinos- 0–311.5 Q. calliprinos- AP (33–50%); predominance of Q. NAP (50–67%); increasing type—Pistacia LPAZ type > 10% calliprinos-type (9–18%); distinct Poaceae values between 195 and decline of Olea europaea percentages 175 cm (11–21%); remarkable at the beginning of this zone (4–17%); amounts of Artemisia (3–10%), Q. ithaburensis-type and Pistacia Plantaginaceae (2–7%), Sar- pollen consistently range around 7%; copoterium spinosum (1–6%), remarkable values of Pinus (1–10%); and Rumex (1–2%); Chenopodi- occurrence of Eucalyptus as neophyte aceae, Cichorioideae, and Aster- in uppermost part oideae fluctuate at low level 4 Olea europaea—Sarco- 311.5–428 O. europaea > 20% AP (38–58%); highest values of O. NAP (42–62%); percentages of poterium spinosum LPAZ europaea (26–48%), decreasing Poaceae (8–12%), Chenopodi- percentages of Q. calliprinos-type aceae and Cichorioideae (both at (2–7%), Q. ithaburensis-type (2–3%), 3–8%) decline; increasing values and Pistacia (1–3%); start of con- of Plantaginaceae (4–6%); start tinuous occurrence of Vitis vinifera of continuous occurrence of S. (0–1%) and Juglans regia (0–1%) spinosum (0–3%) 3 Q. ithaburensis-type 428–976.5 Q. ithaburensis- AP (20–58%); highest values of Q. NAP (42–80%); predominance of LPAZ type > 15% ithaburensis-type (2–36%); Q. Poaceae (11–31%); three distinct peaks of Cichorioideae values at calliprinos-type (2–17%) percentages 911 cm (25%), at 747 cm (23%) increase, general low O. europaea and at 464 cm (13%); Cheno- (5–17%) values with two distinct podiaceae (3–9%), Artemisia peaks at 761 cm (17%) and at 599 cm (2–9%) and Asteroideae (1–4%) (12%), Pistacia pollen oscillates at are abundant low level (1–7%) 2 O. europaea LPAZ 976.5–1,365 O. europaea > 15% AP (35–57%); predominance of O. NAP (43–65%); Poaceae pollen europaea (13–39%) with three distinct are continuously present at high peaks at 1,325 cm (31%), at 1,219 cm level (12–29%); Cichorioideae (24%), and between 1,140 and (3–13%), Chenopodiaceae 1,012 cm (32–39%); Q. ithaburensis- (3–7%), Asteroideae (1–4%) type (8–16%) remains stable, while Q. percentages are reduced; Artemi- calliprinos-type (1–4%) and Pistacia sia still fluctuates at a low level (0–4%) abundances decline (2–5%) 1 Poaceae—Cerealia-type 1,365–1,780 Not defined AP (16–33%); moderate Q. ithaburen- NAP (67–80%); remarkable LPAZ sis-type (7–17%) and O. europaea amounts of Poaceae (13–30%), (1–9%) values increase towards the Chenopodiaceae (7–15%) and top; low values of Pistacia (2–4%) and Cichorioideae (5–36%) in upper Q. calliprinos-type (1–3%) half; Cerealia-type (3–7%), Arte- misia (2–6%) and Asteroideae (2–5%) fluctuate at low level The pollen zones are plotted against composite depth cm; see also Fig. 4 for the age-depth model eastern slopes of Lower Galilee, the upper Jordan valley, and the Irano-Turanian steppe biome due to increasing aridity. the southern Golan Heights (Baruch 1986), which belong to Although Cerealia-type pollen can be identified from other the Mediterranean plant territory (Danin 1988). The Pistacia grasses, it is impossible to distinguish between domesticated pollen in the Levantine records originates largely from P. and wild cereals. Wild cereals are native in the whole Levant palaestina, which is the only species which is reasonably as part of the so-called Fertile Crescent. In this situation, the well represented in the pollen rain, since P. atlantica and cereal pollen curve cannot be used as an indicator of human P. lentiscus are seriously underrepresented (Baruch 1986). activity in this region (see also van Zeist et al. 2009 and; Litt Ratios of Mediterranean trees and shrubs in the Lake et al. 2012 for a comparable period in the Hula and Dead Kinneret region reach rather low values during LPAZ 1. Sea pollen records). Referring solely to the pollen record, it cannot be con- Archaeological findings reveal no evidence for large- cluded whether this pattern is caused by woodland clear- scale woodland clearance activity during the Pottery Neo- ance by the Neolithic people, as assumed by Rollefson lithic (PN) but rather conclude low settlement density in the and Köhler-Rollefson (1992), or rather by an expansion of southern Levant (Ahlström and Rollefson 1993). Moreover, 1 3 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 585 the reconstruction of the level of the Dead Sea shows a low in the Kinneret record (Fig. 6). Such large amounts of olive water level between 9,000 and 7,000 cal bp , indicating a pollen might be the earliest observable evidence for olive period of increased aridity (Kushnir and Stein 2010; Litt growing as well as clear evidence of human impact on the et al. 2012), which is consistent with a dry phase deduced by vegetation in this region. A similar pattern in the olive curve Rohling and Palike (2005). Therefore, an increase in aridity can be observed in the Dead Sea pollen record, starting dur- can be assumed as a major reason for the observed vegeta- ing the Late Chalcolithic Ghassulian culture (the terminol- tion signal in the Kinneret pollen record. A contradictory ogy follows Garfinkel et al. 2014) around 6,500 cal pb (4550 conclusion is drawn by Yasuda et al. (2000), who noted a bce ) based on a reliable chronology (Fig. 7; Litt et al. 2012). sharp decrease in deciduous oak around 9,000 bp in a pollen In the Lake Hula pollen record, the olive curve pattern is record from Ghab valley, Syria, as the earliest evidence for similar to those of the previously mentioned records. The large-scale woodland clearance. However, no correction for different date of the start of the Olea curve in Lake Hula may reservoir effects was applied to the measured radiocarbon be due to inaccuracies of the estimated chronology after van ages obtained from these sediments. Instead, Yasuda et al. Zeist et al. (2009). (2000) refer to the good correlation with the chronology of Based on the age-depth models of the Kinneret and Dead the Lake Hula profile (Baruch and Bottema 1999), which Sea pollen records, the beginning of olive growing in the has since been rejected (van Zeist et al. 2009). Adopting Galilee area seems to have been several 100 years earlier the suggested biostratigraphical correlation with an adjacent than in the Judean mountains around the Dead Sea. This profile from Ghab valley by Rossignol-Strick (1995), the age might be related to uncertainties of the reservoir correction discrepancy might well add up to ~ 3,500 years, and hence used for the Kinneret radiocarbon chronology. However, it the evidence for woodland clearance during the Pottery Neo- is interesting to note that the domesticated status of olives is lithic has to be questioned. already shown by archaeobotanical finds from the classical Late Chalcolithic site Tuleilat Ghassul (ca. 6,500–5,800 cal 7,000–5,000 cal bp (transition Neolithic/Chalcolithic bp ) north of the Dead Sea (Neef 1990; Weiss 2015), which to Early Bronze Age) is outside the potential natural distribution area of wild Olea as a component of the Mediterranean biome (Danin The increase of O. europaea pollen values with a first peak 1988, 1999). Considerable olive oil production took place around 6,800 cal bp is obvious in the bottom part of LPAZ 2 as early as the pre-Gassulian late Pottery Neolithic/Early Fig. 6 Selected arboreal pollen and non-arboreal pollen diagram from Lake Kinneret based on an absolute time scale 1 3 586 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 Chalcolithic along the Carmel coast and Lower Galilee, an increase in deciduous oak pollen (Q. ithaburensis-type). probably using wild Olea oleaster forms as described by Apparently, the decline of olive cultivation was not related Kislev (1994–1995), Galili et al. (1997) and summarized to changes in climatic conditions such as reduced precipita- in reviews by Kaniewski et al. (2012) and Weiss (2015). tion. This assumption is supported by evidence of a high Furthermore, very recent evidence of olive oil in pottery lake level at Kinneret (Hazan et al. 2005) as well as at the containers from Ein Zipporat, southwest of the Sea of Gali- Dead Sea, which suggest that there were higher precipita- lee and dating to the 6th and 5th millennia bce show that tion values around 5,000 cal bp (Kushnir and Stein 2010; the beginning of oil production was several centuries earlier Litt et al. 2012). The decline of olive pollen values was (Namdar et al. 2015). The analytical results based on gas probably linked to changes in socio-economic and politi- chromatography show that at least the storage of olive oil cal conditions in the region during the Early Bronze Age II was a routine custom of the pre-Gassulian culture during the and III as discussed in Langgut et al. (2013), according to Late Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic. Therefore, we can assume which a weakening of overland connections with Egypt led an even earlier growing or use of olives in the Mediterranean to a change in the olive oil export area from Galilee to the region of the Levant where wild olives are native. Although coast of present-day Lebanon. Relatively low olive pollen pollen morphology alone is unable to distinguish between values are also characteristic of the Middle and Late Bronze wild O. oleaster and domesticated O. europaea forms, an Age (4,000–3,300 cal bp ). In contrast to other regions in the increased use of olive should be visible in the pollen records southern Levant, it is interesting that no large city-like set- from areas such as Lower Galilee where growing probably tlement structures were established close to the lake during also took place. In this respect, the first peak of the Olea the Middle Bronze Age (Zwickel 2003). The abandonment curve in the Kinneret record around 6,800 bp is in agree- of the olive groves indicated in the Kinneret record is con- ment with the previously described findings and assump - sistent with the results by Neumann et al. (2007a) based tions. That Lower Galilee was in fact a hotspot of olive cul- on the Birkat Ram record, which also show reduced human tivation can also be confirmed by recently published pollen activities on the Golan Heights after the Early Bronze Age. data from the northern Levant, where Olea pollen is absent Also, the chronologically well-dated Dead Sea pollen record or only present at very low values during the Late Neolithic/ as well as archaeological and archaeobotanical findings Chalcolithic period (Hajar et al. 2008, 2010). Therefore, it indicate a decline of olive cultivation along with a decrease is not possible with those records to know whether or not of settlement density and economic activities in southern olives were cultivated in Lebanon during that time, as stated Israel by the Late Bronze Age (3,500–3,150 cal bp ) (Fall by Hajar et al. (2010). et al. 1998; Berelov 2006). Regional differences in timing of The climatic conditions in the Kinneret area seem to the population change cause this difference in date between have changed to higher precipitation values after 7,000 cal the Galilee and Dead Sea regions. bp (5050 bce ), enabling an expansion of the Mediterranean The two decreases in the oak pollen curve around 4,000 vegetation. The same tendency can be observed in the Ein and 3,200 cal bp might be related to drought events (Lang- Gedi pollen record (Fig. 7; Litt et al. 2012). In addition, a gut et al. 2013). At least the latter one is also to be seen in rise in the level of the Dead Sea is also indicative of more the Dead Sea record from Ein Gedi (Litt et al. 2012) as well rainfall during this period (Kushnir and Stein 2010). The as in the Dead Sea water level curve (Kushnir and Stein fluctuations in the Olea percentages in the Kinneret record 2010; Stein et al. 2010), which correlates to the Late Bronze during the Late Chalcolithic period (Gassulian period, ca. Collapse represented by the destruction of numerous urban 6,500–5,800 cal bp ) clearly reflect changes in the amount centres in the Levant (Langgut et al. 2013). A dry event of human activity rather than changes in the climatic con- during the Late Bronze-Iron Age transition is also shown in ditions, since the ratios of Mediterranean taxa such as high resolution records from the northern Levant (Kaniewski deciduous oak remain constant. High values of Olea pollen et al. 2010). Regarding the decreased tree pollen values in can also be observed during the Early Bronze Age I (ca. the Kinneret record around 4,000 cal bp (beginning of the 5,500 cal bp ), which is in good agreement with pronounced Middle Bronze Age), it is uncertain whether or not this pol- settlement activities near Kinneret, as at the 20 ha Tel Bet len signal is related to the so-called 4.2 cal kyr bp drought Yerah site (Zwickel 2003), on the Golan Heights (Neumann event between 4,200 and 3,900 cal bp (Weiss and Bradley et al. 2007a), in northern Samaria, and the western Jezreel 2001). In the Ein Gedi record there is no clear evidence that valley (Finkelstein et al. 2006). correlates with this event, which might be due to the lower sample resolution of 100 years. In the northern Levant, the 5,000–2,300 cal bp (Early Bronze to Iron Age) vegetation of coastal Syria appears to have been more arid between 4,200 and 3,900 cal bp than is indicated on aver- The ending of olive growing around 5,000 cal bp (transi- age in a pollen record published by Kaniewski et al. (2008). tion from LPAZ 2 to LPAZ 3) occurred synchronously with However, these authors emphasise that the 3.2 cal kyr bp 1 3 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 587 Fig. 7 Correlation of pollen records showing a south-to- north-transect along the Dead Sea Rift. a Dead Sea pollen record after Litt et al. (2012) plotted against reliable chronol- ogy and correlated to archaeo- logical periods; b Lake Kinneret record (this study) plotted against reliable age model; c Birkat Ram pollen record after Schwab et al. (2004) plot- ted against depth (cm) and supplemented by the tentative chronology; d Lake Hula pol- len sequence after Baruch and Bottema (1999) plotted against depth (cm) and supplemented by an estimated chronology after van Zeist et al. (2009). The upper coloured horizon indicates olive cultivation dur- ing the Hellenistic and Roman/ Byzantine periods. The lower coloured horizon indicates olive cultivation during the Chalco- lithic period, Early Bronze Age (EBA) and Middle Bronze Age in the Dead Sea record, and during the Chalcolithic period and EBA in the other records, respectively. The grey bar shows a tentative correlation of similar vegetation patterns 1 3 588 Vegetation History and Archaeobotany (2018) 27:577–590 event was clearly dryer and lasted longer than the 4.2 cal is characterized by Q. calliprinos and P. lentiscus, while kyr event. batha (garrigue) is represented by S. spinosum-type in the pollen diagram. The uppermost distinct Pinus increase also 2,300–1,500 cal bp (Hellenistic and Roman/ reflects human impact on the vegetation, because the modern Byzantine periods) distribution of P. halepensis (Aleppo pine) is the result of the planting of woods at the beginning of the 20th century and In the Kinneret record, the replacement of oak woodland by does not represent the natural vegetation cover (Liphschitz olive groves is obvious at the beginning of the Hellenistic and Biger 2001). period (Fig. 6). This is in agreement with the archaeologi- cal findings that important cities were established around the lake at that time, such as Hippos and Gadara as parts of Conclusions the so-called Decapolis (Zangenberg and Busch 2003). In addition, during the Roman period, Tiberias was founded A new pollen record from the deepest part of Lake Kinneret (Fortner 2003). Olive production played an enormous recording the last 9,000 years fills a gap in the vegetation role as indicated by numerous archaeological finds of oil history of the southern Levant between the Dead Sea in the presses (Safrai 1994; Fortner and Rottloff 2003). The pat- south of Israel and the Golan Heights in the north (Fig. 1). tern of increased evidence of Olea is in good agreement with It is the longest continuous Holocene pollen record from the pollen ratios recorded by Baruch (1986), who analysed this basin obtained to date, which allows reconstruction of sediment core KIN4D taken in 1979 from a more southern the environmental history of this area, including human part of Kinneret. Since olive pollen ratios in the Birkat Ram impact, since the Neolithic. With an excellent chronology record (Neumann et al. 2007a) do not rise as strongly as from numerous AMS radiocarbon dates the Kinneret results in the Kinneret record, the trade in olive oil is assumed to can serve as a palynological reference section for the Lower have been established in the Kinneret region earlier than on Galilee region as part of the Mediterranean vegetation terri- the Golan Heights (Zohary et al. 2012). High olive pollen tory. The Kinneret record is strongly influenced by indicators values are typical through the Roman and Byzantine period, of human activity in the pollen diagram, especially during which can also be observed in the Birkat Ram record (Neu- the Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age, the Hellenistic-Roman- mann et al. 2007a), in the Lake Hula results (van Zeist et al. Byzantine periods and in modern times. The first Olea pol- 2009), as well as from Ein Gedi (Litt et al. 2012). During len increase as early as the transition between the Late Neo- this period, the cultivation of Vitis vinifera (grapevine) and lithic and the Early Chalcolithic periods from ca. 7,000 cal Juglans regia (walnut) is clearly shown in this region. years bp onward is remarkable, which is several centuries earlier than in the well-dated Ein Gedi pollen record, Dead 1,500 cal bp: present (early Islamic period to present) Sea (Fig. 7). The new data from Kinneret underline the assumption that Lower Galilee was a centre of early olive After the abandonment of olive groves and the decline of cultivation in the Levant. The second prominent Olea phase economic structures during the early Islamic period (Safrai during the Hellenistic/Roman/Byzantine period in the Kin- 1994), vacant land was re-occupied by evergreen oaks and neret record is almost simultaneous with other well-dated pistachios, but deciduous oaks did not recover as strongly pollen records in the southern Levant. The Mediterranean (LPAZ 5; Fig. 6). Compared to the tall Q. ithaburensis macchia and batha scrub, as known today, has developed as (Mount Tabor oak), the shrubby Q. calliprinos and P. len- the result of human impact in Lower Galilee since the last tiscus are less vulnerable to impact from humans and live- ca. 1,500 years. stock, such as by grazing or cutting (Danin 1988; Baruch Acknowledgements This study is a contribution to the Collaborative 1990). There are high values of Sarcopoterium spinosum Research Centre project CRC 806 “Our Way to Europe”, funded by the throughout this period of woodland regeneration (Fig. 6). Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; German Research Founda- According to Danin (1999), this semi-shrub plays an impor- tion). We thank Patricia Roeser, Georg Heumann, Sven Olver Franz tant role in the plant succession in fallow fields at the centre (Bonn), Michael Köhler (Potsdam), and Mordechai Stein (Jerusalem) for their support during the fieldwork in 2010. In addition, we thank of the Mediterranean territory of Israel. Andrea Miebach, Nadine Pickarski and Hannah Vossel (Bonn) for con- A similar vegetational succession after the Olea decline structive discussions and help to improve the text and the figures. In is obvious in the records from Lake Hula (van Zeist et al. addition, we acknowledge the critical comments of two anonymous 2009), Birkat Ram (Neumann et al. 2007a), as well as the reviewers. Dead Sea (Fig. 7; Litt et al. 2012). The original natural Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Crea- Mediterranean woodland mainly of deciduous oaks was tive Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://crea- replaced by macchia and batha evergreen scrub in the entire tivecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, southern Levant between 1,500 and 1,000 cal bp . 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