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Empire in Mesopotamia… Felled by Dust?

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The potential for climate change to substantially impact human societies has been one of significant interest for decades, and has particular relevance today as human-induced climate change becomes more imminent. Human-timescale palaeo-climate records (1-10 year resolution) are a critical tool for exploring the relationship between past societies and their local climate and environment. I present here a unique archive for reconstructing climate patterns in the past in ancient Mesopotamia – a cave stalagmite collected from the Alborz Mountains in northern Iran. Multiple advanced ancient societies of the Bronze Age, including the Akkadian Empire, Ancient Egypt, and the Indus Valley civilizations, underwent large transformations around 2200 BCE . Some authors suggest climate change as a causal factor for the societal transformations. There are no known volcanic or solar events that could have induced this change and therefore other potential causes such as stochastic (random, unpredictable) forcing are proposed. Resolving the timing and duration of any Middle Eastern climate event around 2200 BCE is important for understanding the natural climate variability of this region, critical for both historical and modern human societies.

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