Dust storms and droughts caused the collapse of the Akkadian Empire

Dust storms and droughts caused the collapse of the Akkadian Empire

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Fossil coral records offer new evidence that frequent winter shamals (dust storms) and a prolonged cold winter season, contributed to the collapse of the ancient Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia.

The Akkadian empire (XXIV to XXII centuries BC), was the first united empire in Mesopotamia, which prospered thanks to the development of irrigation. However, the settlements appear to have been suddenly abandoned 4200 years ago.

The area also did not experience resettlement until about 300 years after the previous abandonment.

¿Why did the Akkadian Empire collapse?

Previous studies have shown that the Akkadian Empire likely collapsed due to abrupt drought and civil unrest that she carried.

However, the climatic dynamics that caused the changes in widespread agriculture and the end of an era had not been sufficiently explored until now.

Researchers from Hokkaido University, KIKAI Institute, Kyushu University, and Kiel University conducted paleoclimatic reconstructions of temperature and hydrological changes in the areas around the Tell Leilan archaeological site, the center of the Akkadian Empire.

They took samples of six 4,100-year-old fossil corals from the Gulf of Oman, which faces directly towards the place from which the wind comes, which were geochemically analyzed and compared with current ones.

This comparison, together with the collection of meteorological information, they confirmed thatAlthough it is normal for the study area to receive a large amount of water in the winter, during the collapse of the empire it suffered significant periods of drought, which were sudden and intense.

The impact of dust storms and lack of rain would have caused major agricultural problems, possibly leading to social instability and famine, both factors previously associated with the collapse of the empire.

Tsuyoshi Watanabe, from Hokkaido University, explained that “Although the official mark of the collapse of the Akkadian Empire is the invasion of Mesopotamia by other populations, the fossil samples are windows in time showing that variations in climate contributed significantly to the decline of the empire.”.

He further added that "additional interdisciplinary research will help improve our understanding of the connections between climate change and human societies in the past."

The results were published in the journal Geology.

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