Human demography changes in Morocco and environmental imprint during the Holocene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Rachid Cheddadi
  • Alessio Palmisano
  • Jose Antonio Lopez Saez
  • Madja Nourelbait
  • Christoph Zielhofer
  • Jalal Tabel
  • Ali Rhoujjati
  • Carla Khater
  • Jessie Woodbridge
  • Giulio Lucarini
  • Cyprian Broodbank
  • Neil Roberts


The aim of this work is to reconstruct the periods of growth and decline of human populations in Morocco and their potential impacts on the landscape
over the past 10,000 years. In order to estimate the trends in the human population size between 10,000 and 3000 years ago, we used a summed
probability distribution (SPD) of radiocarbon dates from a wide range of archaeological sites throughout Morocco. Landscape changes were identified and
quantified from a dataset of fossil pollen records. Different anthropogenic pollen markers, as well as natural vegetation groups and taxonomic richness
were used to analyse the relationship between long-term trends in human population expansion or regression and type of impact on the landscape. The
sub-regions of Morocco have different topographies and climates, which have either favoured or prevented the establishment and/or spread of human
populations. In order to identify the areas most significantly impacted by humans and the timing of such impacts, we have reconstructed and compared the same past anthropogenic and landscape proxies along with the population trends within the lowlands and mountainous areas. The lowlands were more
strongly impacted earlier in the Holocene than the mountainous areas. Anthropogenic markers indicate that farming expanded in the lowlands during
the first major expansion of human populations between ca. 7200 and 6700 cal. yr BP at the start of the Neolithic period. In the Atlas and Rif Mountains,
anthropogenic impact is not clearly detectable in any of these areas before 4000 cal. BP.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Holocene
Early online date13 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019