Monday, August 19, 2013

The Mediterranean's 300 year drought

This piece by Kosta Pandos and Sunanda Creagh in The Conversation, Climate change hastened ancient civilisations' collapse: study, interested me. It reports on a new study that concluded that climate change sparked the political and economic turmoil that hastened the collapse of formerly prosperous civilisations in regions such as Greece and Syria towards the end of the 13th century BC. You can find the full study here.

The Conversation writers put it in the context of current discussions on global warming, although the study does no more than illustrate the importance of climatic shifts in a particular place and time in which I have an interest.

I commented once before that one of the things that I did not properly understand when I first did history and prehistory at University was the extent of climatic variation. If you look at just how dry the Greek Islands are today, you can see how a long drought might affect life. In similar vein, we now know that the troubles afflicting new settlement at Sydney were in part climate induced, while during the long Aboriginal occupation of this country there were multiple climatic variations.

The expansion in our knowledge of past variations in climate and their affects is really quite remarkable. 


Evan said...

Did you see First Footprints. It brought home to me the kinds of changes that Aborigines coped with.

Jim Belshaw said...

I did indeed, Evan. One of the things that I underestimated, I think, in looking at the prehistory of New England was the population impact of climate change.