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A comprehensive record of lake level changes in the Dead Sea has been reconstructed using multiple, well dated sediment cores recovered from the Dead Sea shore. Interpreting the lake level changes as monitors of precipitation in the Dead Sea drainage area and the regional eastern Mediterranean palaeoclimate, we document the presence of two major wet phases (∼ 10–8.6 and ∼ 5.6–3.5 cal kyr BP) and multiple abrupt arid events during the Holocene. The arid events in the Holocene Dead Sea appear to coincide with major breaks in the Near East cultural evolution (at ∼ 8.6, 8.2, 4.2, 3.5 cal kyr BP). Wetter periods are marked by the enlargement of smaller settlements and growth of farming communities in desert regions, suggesting a parallelism between climate and Near East cultural development.
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