Despite ongoing discussions on hydroclimatic conditions in the southern Levant during the Last Glacial, detailed knowledge about the Levantine paleovegetation, which is an important indicator for the paleoclimate, is limited. To investigate the paleovegetation in northern Israel, we analyzed the pollen assemblage of a sediment core that was drilled at the Ohalo II archaeological site on the southwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). We refined the lithology and the age-depth model with the help of five new radiocarbon dates. The core comprises a continuous sediment profile of mainly laminated authigenic calcites and detrital material that deposited between ca. 28,000 and 22,500 years before present, when the Sea of Galilee rose above the modern lake level stand and temporarily merged with Lake Lisan, the precursor of the Dead Sea. The well-dated and high-resolution pollen record suggests that steppe vegetation with grasses, other herbs, and dwarf shrubs predominated in northern Israel during the investigated period. In contrast to the Holocene, there was no continuous vegetation belt of the Mediterranean biome in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee. Mediterranean elements such as deciduous oaks only occurred in limited amounts and were probably patchily distributed. These results disagree with previous pollen-based hypotheses from the region that assumed the spread of Mediterranean forest during glacial periods. While the pollen data may indicate semiarid conditions in northern Israel and give no evidence of increased effective moisture, previous hydroclimatic studies suggested increased precipitation rates that are consistent with high lake levels (Sea of Galilee/Lake Lisan). Thus, we discuss factors influencing the pollen assemblage and the plant cover.
Supplement to: Miebach, Andrea; Chen, Chunzhu; Schwab, Markus J; Stein, Mordechai; Litt, Thomas (2017): Vegetation and climate during the Last Glacial high stand (ca. 28-22 ka BP) of the Sea of Galilee, northern Israel. Quaternary Science Reviews, 156, 47-56