The Tomb of Khentkaus III: A Cautionary Tale of Climate Change?
Between 1206 and 1150 BC, the cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and Syria, and the New Kingdom of Egypt in Syria and Canaan interrupted trade routes and severely reduced literacy.
An artist’s representation of the city of Argos, once a significant Mycenaean center in Greece. ( Jeff Brown Graphics )
Research in 2015 , also revealed that some of the earliest civilizations in the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent may have been affected by abrupt climate change. These findings show that while socio-economic factors were traditionally considered to shape ancient human societies in this region, the influence of abrupt climate change should not be underestimated.
A team of international scientists led by researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that during the first half of the last interglacial period known as the Holocene epoch, which began about 12,000 years ago and continues today, the Middle East most likely experienced wetter conditions in comparison with the last 6,000 years, when the conditions were drier and dustier. Arash Sharifi, Ph.D. candidate at the department of marine geosciences and the lead author of the study, said:
“The high-resolution nature of this record afforded us the rare opportunity to examine the influence of abrupt climate change on early human societies. We see that transitions in several major civilizations across this region, as evidenced by the available historical and archeological records, coincided with episodes of high atmospheric dust; higher fluxes of dust are attributed to drier conditions across the region over the last 5,000 years.”
All of these examples suggest that more difficulties may arise as climate change continues. The question is, what will humanity learn from the past?
Featured image: Panorama of the tomb of Khentkaus III. Source: Martin Frouz, ČEgÚ FF UK
By Mark Miller