Understanding how climate change has influenced the emergence and evolution of humankind
Funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and coordinated by Ana Isabel Gomes, a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour (ICArEHB) at the University of Algarve, the main aim of the InMoz project is to investigate Quaternary environmental changes in south-eastern Mozambique and their impacts on human evolution.
The researcher explains that, “Only by becoming better acquainted with the climatic and environmental changes that took place in the past, between eastern and southern Africa (Mozambique), and the driving factors of these changes (global, regional and local), will we be able to understand their role in the emergence and evolution of mankind”.
This knowledge will also contribute to the sharing of information about Mozambique’s natural and cultural heritage. Global warming and its consequences are a global concern. “Increasing knowledge about past climate/environmental changes and their impacts will help society understand how it can adapt in the future and contribute to the long-term management and conservation of biodiversity, as well as to the development of an environmentally sustainable economy in Mozambique,” says Ana Gomes.
“What climatic and environmental changes occurred in southeastern Mozambique during the Quaternary and what were their impacts on human evolution?” In order to answer these questions, Ana Isabel Gomes defined the current environments located in the vicinity of archaeological sites and collected sedimentary records from interdune lakes, which are now being analysed using various indicators.
An analysis of the data provided by these indicators will make it possible to determine the climatic changes that took place in the past, and their influence on humankind, as well as helping us understand how the landscape evolved due to the climate and actions taken by humans.
As the researcher explains, Mozambique, and specifically the Inhambane region, was chosen as the area of study for two main reasons. On the one hand, “because from an archaeological perspective, it is a central location for research into the emergence and evolution of modern humans, due to its proximity to regions of great paleoanthropological significance, where hundreds of new archaeological sites have been discovered in recent years.” On the other hand, “because the Inhambane region is rich in environments conducive to human settlement (including lakes, mangroves and beaches, which would have provided resources such as fresh water, food and raw materials), and its great archaeological potential is already being investigated by the same team.”
In contrast to the polar regions or the middle and high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, Ana Gomes points out that “there are very few studies of this type in the low latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere, especially in Mozambique, where archaeological and palaeoenvironmental investigations are rarely carried out simultaneously.”
This project is aligned with Goal 5, “Gender equality”, in the balance achieved between the numbers of female and male members on the team. Additionally, it promotes learning opportunities for all, particularly in Mozambique, through quality inclusive, equitable education.
Ana Gomes Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Geology – Specialising in teaching, a PhD in Marine, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geosciences and Palaeontology e is a rerearcher for the Interdisciplinary Centre for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behaviour (ICArEHB)