John is to attend the SASQUA conference from 13th to the 16th September, hosted this year (2012) at Gobabeb as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. His paper is entitled: Climate proxies and occupation trends in the post-Pleistocene archaeological record for the Namib Desert and presents evidence of human occupation in the hyper-arid Namib as a sensitive proxy for global shifts in climate. The human population of the Namib declined significantly during the Late Glacial Maximum (c. 16 000 years ago) and picked up again only with the mid-Holocene Optimum (about 6 500 years ago) when the climate improved, sea-level rose and rainfall increased. Important changes in subsistent strategies included very specialized hunting and gathering techniques and the eventual adoption of domestic livestock. These changes led to an increase in the population during the last 1000 years.
The graph shows radiocarbon dates in the Namib, approximate climatic variation between hot and dry, and warm and wet periods, and variation of human populations during the Holocene estimated from archaeological evidence.
During the conference, 29 papers and 17 posters will be presented by international researchers. Some of the well-known Namibian scientists include Roy Miller who will talk about the implications in OSL dating of the main Kalahari dunes; Eugene Marais & others on the Holocene pollen record from the Naukluft; H. Mocke on the fossil flora and fauna at Ongongo Springs, Damaraland; A. Nguno and others on OSL dating of marine terraces of the Skeleton Coast, S. Ringrose and others, including Mary Seely, on bedform changes following high floods on the Kuiseb River and SE Nicholson on 200 years of rainfall variability in Namibia. The full program, with abstracts of the papers may be downloaded in pdf version.