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The fluvial evolution of the Holocene Nile Delta

Pennington, B.; Sturt, F.; Wilson, P.; Rowland, J.; Brown, A.G.


B. Pennington

F. Sturt

J. Rowland

A.G. Brown


The evolution of the Nile Delta, the largest delta system in the Mediterranean Sea, has both high palaeoenvironmental and archaeological significance. A dynamic model of the landscape evolution of this delta system is presented for the period c.8000–4500 cal BP. Analysis of sedimentary data and chronostratigraphic information contained within 1640 borehole records has allowed for a redefinition of the internal stratigraphy of the Holocene delta, and the construction of a four-dimensional landscape model for the delta's evolution through time. The mid-Holocene environmental evolution is characterised by a transition from an earlier set of spatially varied landscapes dominated by swampy marshland, to better-drained, more uniform floodplain environments. Archaeologically important Pleistocene inliers in the form of sandy hills protruding above the delta plain surface (known as “turtlebacks”), also became smaller as the delta plain continued to aggrade, while the shoreline and coastal zone prograded north. These changes were forced by a decrease in the rate of relative sea-level rise under high rates of sediment-supply. This dynamic environmental evolution needs to be integrated within any discussion of the contemporary developments in the social sphere, which culminated in the emergence of the Ancient Egyptian State c.5050 cal BP.


Pennington, B., Sturt, F., Wilson, P., Rowland, J., & Brown, A. (2017). The fluvial evolution of the Holocene Nile Delta. Quaternary Science Reviews, 170, 212-231.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 16, 2017
Online Publication Date Jul 10, 2017
Publication Date Jul 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 19, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jul 10, 2018
Journal Quaternary Science Reviews
Print ISSN 0277-3791
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 170
Pages 212-231


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