An examination of two documented periods of climate change in the greater Middle East, between approximately 4,500 and 3,000 years ago, reveals local evidence of resilience and even of a flourishing ancient society despite the changes in climate seen in the larger region.
A new study led by University of Toronto and Cornell University archaeologists working at Tell Tayinat in southeastern Turkey, demonstrates that human responses to climate change are variable and must be examined using extensive and precise data gathered at the local level. The study highlights how challenge and collapse in some areas were matched by resilience and opportunities elsewhere.
The findings published today in PLoS ONE are welcome contributions to discussions about human responses to climate change that broaden an otherwise sparse chronological framework for the northern part of the region known historically as the Levant, which stretches the length of the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea.
“The study shows the end of the Early Bronze Age occupation at Tayinat was a long and drawn out affair that, while it appears to coincide with the onset of a megadrought 4,200 years ago, was actually the culmination of processes that began much earlier,” says Tim Harrison, professor and chair of the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto (U of T), and director of the Tayinat Archaeological Project. “The archaeological evidence does not point towards significant local effects of the climate episode, as there is no evidence of drought stress in crops.”
“Instead, these changes were more likely the result of local political and spatial reconfiguration.”
The mid-to late Early Bronze Age (3000-2000 BCE) and the Late Bronze Age (1600-1200 BCE) in the ancient Middle East are pivotal periods of early inter-connectedness among settlements across the region, with the development of some of the earliest cities and state-level societies. But these systems were not always sustainable, and both periods ended in collapse of civilisations/settlements, the reasons for which are highly debated.
For more info, read the full article on phys.org.