A 7000 yr palynologic record from Burullus Lagoon, Nile Delta, Egypt, is assessed to investigate changes in terrestrial vegetation in response to Nile flow. Previous studies in this region have shown that sea-level rise in the early to mid-Holocene, and markedly increased human land use during the past several centuries, altered vegetation in and around the lagoon. The pollen record from this study documents changes in delta vegetation that likely reflect variations in Nile flow. We suggest that Cyperaceae pollen is a sensitive marker of precipitation over the Nile headwaters and the resultant Nile flow. Decreases in Cyperaceae pollen, interpreted as a marker for diminished Nile flow, as well as the increase in relative abundance of microscopic charcoal, occurred at ca. 6000–5500, ca. 5000, ca. 4200, and ca. 3000 cal. yr B.P. (calibrated years before present). These correspond to extreme regional and global aridity events associated with a more southerly mean position of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. These changes, also recorded by other proxy studies, indicate that several marked regional drought events affected the Nile Delta region and impacted ancient Egyptian and Middle Eastern civilizations.
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Nile Delta vegetation response to Holocene climate variability