Central Mongolian lake sediments reveal new insights on climate change and equestrian empires in the Eastern Steppes

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review

Contributors

  • Julian Struck - , Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Author)
  • Marcel Bliedtner - , Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Author)
  • Paul Strobel - , Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Author)
  • William Taylor - , University of Colorado Boulder (Author)
  • Sophie Biskop - , Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Author)
  • Birgit Plessen - , Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - German Research Centre for Geosciences (Author)
  • Björn Klaes - , Trier University (Author)
  • Lucas Bittner - , Heisenberg Chair of Physical Geography with a Focus on Paleoenvironmental Research, Chair of Computational Landscape Ecology, Institute of Geography, Institute of Geography/ Physical Geography with Focus on Paleoenvironmental Research, TUD Dresden University of Technology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Author)
  • Bayarsaikhan Jamsranjav - , Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology (Author)
  • Gary Salazar - , University of Bern (Author)
  • Sönke Szidat - , University of Bern (Author)
  • Alexander Brenning - , Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Author)
  • Enkhtuya Bazarradnaa - , Mongolian University of Life Sciences (Author)
  • Bruno Glaser - , Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Author)
  • Michael Zech - , Heisenberg Chair of Physical Geography with a Focus on Paleoenvironmental Research, Institute of Geography/ Physical Geography with Focus on Paleoenvironmental Research, TUD Dresden University of Technology (Author)
  • Roland Zech - , Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Author)

Abstract

The repeated expansion of East Asian steppe cultures was a key driver of Eurasian history, forging new social, economic, and biological links across the continent. Climate has been suggested as important driver of these poorly understood cultural expansions, but paleoclimate records from the Mongolian Plateau often suffer from poor age control or ambiguous proxy interpretation. Here, we use a combination of geochemical analyses and comprehensive radiocarbon dating to establish the first robust and detailed record of paleohydrological conditions for Lake Telmen, Mongolia, covering the past ~ 4000 years. Our record shows that humid conditions coincided with solar minima, and hydrological modeling confirms the high sensitivity of the lake to paleoclimate changes. Careful comparisons with archaeological and historical records suggest that in the vast semi-arid grasslands of eastern Eurasia, solar minima led to reduced temperatures, less evaporation, and high biomass production, expanding the power base for pastoral economies and horse cavalry. Our findings suggest a crucial link between temperature dynamics in the Eastern Steppe and key social developments, such as the emergence of pastoral empires, and fuel concerns that global warming enhances water scarcity in the semi-arid regions of interior Eurasia.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number2829
JournalScientific reports
Volume12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Peer-reviewedYes

External IDs

PubMed 35181711

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