Abrupt arid events in the post-glacial (∼17.4-10 kyr BP) Dead Sea Basin (DSB) were recorded by significant lake level declines in Lake Lisan and massive deposition of gypsum and salt. Between 17.4 and 16 kyr cal BP, the lake level dropped from its late MIS2 stand of ∼260 m below mean sea level (m bmsl) to ∼330 m bmsl, depositing a thick sequence of gypsum. Between ∼16 and 15 kyr cal BP the lake level recovered but dropped abruptly again at ∼14 kyr cal BP to below 465 m bmsl, probably the lowest late Pleistocene stand. Then, between 13 and 11 kyr cal BP (the Younger Dryas time interval) the lake rose above 400 m bmsl and declined at 11-10 kyr cal BP depositing a thick sequence of salt. The abrupt lake level drops and salt deposition coincided with times of ice and meltwater discharges into the North Atlantic (NA): Heinrich event (H1) and Meltwater Pulse - MWP1a. Similar coincidence between ice and meltwater discharges in the NA (e.g., H-events) and arid episodes at the Levant was recorded during the colder last glacial period, demonstrating a persistent effect of the North Atlantic hydrology and sea ice advances on the Levant climate. The climatically "turmoil" post-glacial period was accompanied by significant developments in human culture: the collapse of the Natufian culture during the Bølling-Allerød and the rise of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures, PPN A and B around the 11-10 kyr cal BP salt deposition interval marking the initiation of the "Neolithic revolution" in the region.
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We thank Amitai Katz and Abraham Starinsky for illuminating conversations on the question of salt deposition at Lake Lisan and the Dead Sea. Haim Hemo and Shlomo Ashkenazi from the Geological Survey of Israel made the drilling operations possible. The study was supported by the German–Israel Science foundation – GIF (grant #I-805.221.8/2003 to MS) and the Israel–US Bi-national Science Foundation – BSF (grant # 2000271 to MS and IG).