Revisiting the Beyşehir Occupation Phase: Land-Cover Change and the Rural Economy in the Eastern Mediterranean during the First Millennium AD

in Environment and Society in the Long Late Antiquity
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Abstract

The latter part of the Beyşehir Occupation Phase (BOP) corresponds in space and time to the Late Roman empire in the eastern Mediterranean. The emphasis on tree crops in pollen records, particularly olive trees, implies long-term investment, stable trade networks and regional economic integration. The onset of the BOP was time-transgressive, starting between the Bronze Age and Hellenistic times in different localities. During the mid 1st millennium AD, the BOP came to an end, often abruptly, with a marked decline in agricultural indicators and an increase in forests, implying partial landscape re-wilding. This termination is most commonly dated to the 7th c. AD, coinciding with Arab attacks on Byzantine territory, and this, rather than climate change, seems the most likely explanation for the regional collapse of the rural agrarian system. The end of the BOP marks the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Medieval era, a transition which appears to have been notably later in date and more dramatic than elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

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