Climate Change in History

6 Jan 2019

Gary sent in the link ... how climate change caused the world's first empire to collapse - which is derived from the US magazine The Conversation - via the medium of ... the link to which was sent in by William. This is a typical hotchpotch by a journalist as the historical reality is a little more complicated. The journalist has managed to combine several hundred years of history into a single event. Anyone interested in ancient history would have seen the glaring errors straight away - but why do journalists not bother with researching properly what they are writing about. I suppose it was ever thus - a bit like hoping politicians knew something about engineering the electric grid when introducing policy favourable to wind turbines. They don't - which is why we have banks of diesel generators on standby in case of a black out. In this instance, we have a double whammy event which is condensed into one episode of climate change - mangled up with what was happening, historically, after the cold blip and drop in global temperatures had run its course. Hence, 300 plus years of history are telescoped into a single event. We know that revisionists have a propensity for eliminating certain periods of history - but they have an agenda. In this case, the agenda is more difficult to discern - except to add to the confusion over climate change.

For a sensible look at the events go to ... Baillie and McAneney on the Bronze Age climate collapse - end of EB III and EB IV. As a dendrochronologist Baillie has pointed out the end of EB represents a double whammy as far as the environment was concerned - the first event at 2345BC and the other one, around 2200BC. The second event heralded the end of the Akkadian empire - and the complete disappearance of the city of Akkad (which has never been found). Marie Agnes Courty at the second SIS Cambridge Conference produced a lot of evidence for a meteor exploding somewhere in the Middle East, bringing an end to the Akkadian period (although the people survived into the MB age they were never in an ascendancy again). The really interesting thing is that the Akkadians originally inhabited the Habur river valley triangle and the first event devastated this region leading to migration down the Euphrates into what was northern Sumeria. Without the first event there would have never been an Akkadian empire. It also explains why the Akkadians were interested in controlling the regions where they had previously lived - NE Syria and parts of SE Turkey. Whatever caused the first event it involved widescale collapse of cities across Syria and the Levant - with distinct destruction levels. And, not only did the inhabitants of the Habur river watershed flee along the Euphrates valley - they also went south into the Transjordan zone (what became known as the Land of Bashan) which is where the tribe of Gad (from Agade or Akkad) became one of the tribes of the Israelites  (at a somewhat later date). 

SIS has published a great deal on the history of this period - the mid to late third millennium BC. The work of Moe Mandelkehr for example - and somewhat earlier, Euan MacKie. It is of course the period when the stone circles were built at Stonehenge, and rearranged on a couple of occasions. Might these adjustments have a connection with catastrophism - if only from a tectonic angle. The period encompasses at least 350 years (possibly longer) and was associated not with global warming (the usual kind of climate change the doom mongers are fond of overhyping) but global cooling - and lots of water in NW Europe (and droughts in Egypt and the Middle East). This is actually the climate change that we know occurred as the Egyptian First Interemediate Period is all about a series of successive droughts and low Nile levels. Over in what is now Iraq, following the demise of Akkad the Sumerians had a brief resurge (the Ur III dynasty) before that was overwhelmed with further tribal movement from the Syrian steppe zone - the arrival of the Amorites (who went on to dominate the MB period). This occurred late in the sequence but the piece in The Conversation seems to suggest it was all part and parcel of the end of Akkad - yet it occurred around 150 years afterwards on the historical time frame. It was in the Ur III dynasty that the Wall to repel the Amorites was built - and proved ineffective once drought returned and fresh arrivals from the steppe arrived. Yes, it was definitely a period of climate change - but the really interesting thing is what might the vector be that caused the climate to change so dramatically.