Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2005, Vol. 60 ›› Issue (5): 733-741.doi: 10.11821/xb200505004

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The Impact of Abrupt Climate Change in Mid-Holocene on the Prehistoric Culture in Northeast Qinghai

LIU Fenggui1,2, HOU Guangliang1, ZHANG Yili2, ZHANG Zhongxiao1, XU Changjun3, ZHOU Qiang1, ZHANG Haifeng1   

  1. 1. School of Life and Geographical Sciences, Qinghai Normal University, Xining 810008, China;
    2. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. Qinghai Fundamental Geographic Information System, Xining 810001, China
  • Received:2005-05-10 Revised:2005-07-18 Online:2005-09-25 Published:2005-09-25
  • Supported by:

    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40261003; No.90202012; National Basic Research Program of China, No.2005CB422006; Knowledge Innovation Project of CAS, No.KZCX3-SW-339; Window-west Visiting Scholar Project of CAS


The natural environment of the northeastern part of Qinghai province has close relation to global climate changes. In this region there are highly developed prehistoric culture, complete sequences and plentiful vestiges. So it is the typical area where the research of the impact of climatic change on the prehistoric culture of China can be conducted. By researching the regional climate and archeology with the methods of GIS and mathematics analysis, we can find that the climate tended to be dryer and colder at 4 kaBP, so, the Qijia culture dramatically became declined at 3.9 kaBP; the climate kept a dry and cold situation at 3.6 kaBP, which promoted the appearance of the Xindian and Kayue cultures and the increase of a lot of relics; the Qijia culture belongs to a farming culture, the Xindian culture inherited the productive activity from the Qijia culture with its regional scope changing smaller to low sea-level, low mountain and river valley areas; but the Kayue culture changed its own productive pattern and produced a new economic way-animal husbandry after the abrupt climate changes, and its regional scope became the largest in prehistoric culture age. Pre-historic residents took different measures due to the abrupt climate changes, then different cultures developed. Climate change is a major driving force that made prehistoric cultures diversified. It is also one of the most important reasons why large selttlements cannot be maintained for a long time and civilization process suffered setbacks.

Key words: climate changes, northeastern Qinghai, prehistoric culture, regional distribution