Influence of holocene marine transgression and climate change on cultural evolution in southern mesopotamia

Douglas J. Kennett, James P. Kennett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Citations (SciVal)


This chapter reviews the impact of Holocene marine transgression and climate change and its influence on cultural evolution in the southern Mesopotamian region. It argues that the critical confluence of eustatic and climatic changes unique to this circumscribed region favored the emergence of highly centralized, urban-based states. The processes leading to the emergence of state-level societies in southern Mesopotamia are multivariate, but this study indicates that these developments should be considered within the context of environmental change. It begins with a review on postglacial environmental change in southern Mesopotamia. Following this, it presents an account of state development in southern Mesopotamia. It suggests that in southern Mesopotamia the cultural changes leading to integrated state-level societies occurred during a 3000 yr period between the beginning of the "Ubaid" Period at 8000 cal yr BP and the end of the "Uruk" Period at about 5000 cal yr BP. This was a dynamic interval of human cultural evolution, a punctuated series of events, in a long history of human hunting and gathering and early agricultural economies. In this light, the study concludes by suggesting that state development in southern Mesopotamia resulted from human responses stimulated, in part, by a particular succession and confluence of environmental changes unique to this region during the Early and Middle Holocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClimate Change and Cultural Dynamics
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages36
ISBN (Print)9780120883905
StatePublished - 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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