Springer

Human Settlements on the Northern Shores of Lake Aral and Water Level Changes

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The shore of Lake Aral in Kazakhstan is a perfect area for studying the human adaptation strategy to past climate changes. New archaeological material, gathered along the northern shores during the expedition of the INTAS project CLIMAN, is briefly presented. Changes in settlement activity during the Atlantic and Subboreal are related to lake level changes of the Aral Sea. A previ-ously proposed lake level maximum needs to be revised. In particular the lake level stand at 72/73 m, with an assumed age of 5000 BP is definitely refused. Based on the presented data the maximum lake level most probably never reached beyond 57/58 mean average sea level (masl). Furthermore the regression during the 15th–16th centuries has been underestimated. It may have been lower than the present day level. Thus the present desiccation of the Aral Sea is historically not unique, as a similar regression, probably induced by man as well, has occurred at least once during history. A readjustment of the water level is, therefore, possible at any time.

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