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Abrupt Climate Change Impacted Ancient Civilizations in the Fertile Crescent

First Posted: Jul 24, 2015 10:46 AM EDT
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Some of the earliest civilizations in the Middle East and Fertile Crescent may have been affected by abrupt climate change. Scientists have found that the influence of climate may have shaped ancient human societies in this region.

In this latest study, the researchers looked at the first half of the last interglacial period known as the Holocene epoch. This period began about 12,000 years ago and continues today. They also focused on a region known as the Fertile Crescent, a location in west Asia that extends from Iran and the Arabian Peninsula to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and northern Egypt.

The scientists investigated climate variability and changes in paleoenvironmental conditions during the last 13,000 years based on high-resolution peat record from Neor Lake in Northwest Iran.

"The high-resolution nature of this record afforded us the rare opportunity to examine the influence of abrupt climate change on early human societies," said Arash Sharifi, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We see that transitions in several major civilizations across the region, as evidenced by the available historical and archaeological 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."

In fact, the researchers that the Middle East most likely experienced wetter conditions in comparison with the last 6,000 years, when the conditions were drier and dustier. This, in particular, may have influenced the developing society.

The findings are published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

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