Early to Middle Holocene landscape exploitation in a drying environment: Two case studies compared from the central Sahara (SW Fezzan, Libya)
The erg Uan Kasa and the wadi Tanezzuft (Libyan Sahara) reacted in different ways to Holocene climatic changes. Consequently, the human groups settled there responded with different ways of adaptation to the drying environment. In the erg Uan Kasa, shallow lakes were formed from the Early to the Mid-Holocene, and their shores were densely inhabited from the Epipalaeolithic to the Pastoral-Neolithic periods. The erg dried out at c. 5000 years BP, but the area was not completely abandoned, as indicated by minor Late Pastoral-Neolithic sites composed of scattered fireplaces. During the wet Holocene, the wadi Tanezzuft was a large meandering river, and its banks were densely settled. At c. 5000 years BP, the stream was not completely dried out, but it changed its pattern, originating an alluvial plain. A large oasis was formed between c. 4000 and 2000 years BP, exploited by Late Pastoral-Neolithic pastoral communities, and later by Garamantians, which introduced soil management and agricultural practices. The Tanezzuft oasis suffered a drastic reduction in size during the first centuries AD, at the time of the abandonment of the Garamantian settlements.