Climate Change Destroyed Assyrian Empire… without fossil fuels!

Guest drive-by by David Middleton

Megadrought Helped Topple the Assyrian Empire
Paleoclimate records shed light on the ancient civilization’s meteoric rise and catastrophic collapse.

By Mary Caperton Morton 15 January 2020

Around 2,700 years ago in what is now northern Iraq, the Assyrian Empire was at its zenith, dominating the cultural and political landscape of the Fertile Crescent. But within a few years, the empire collapsed, leaving the once thriving capital of Nineveh abandoned for nearly 200 years. The cause of this catastrophe is an enduring mystery, but a climate record preserved in a cave formation now is revealing that the timing of the empire’s rise and fall coincided with a wet period followed by a 125-year-long megadrought.

[…]

The new study relies on a limestone stalagmite called a speleothem recovered from the Kuna Ba cave in northeastern Iraq, about 300 kilometers southeast of the modern city of Mosul, just across the Tigris River from the ruins of Nineveh. By tracking the ratios of oxygen and uranium isotopes, which are sensitive to variations in precipitation and temperature, the team was able to reconstruct a high-resolution record of nearly 4,000 years of paleoclimate history for the region.

Researchers then aligned the precipitation records with archaeological and written cuneiform records and found a remarkable correlation: The rise and zenith of the Assyrian Empire, from 920 to 730 BCE, occurred during a period of higher-than-average rainfall, deemed the Assyrian megapluvial, that lasted from 925 to 725 BCE. And the fall of the empire, between 660 and 600 BCE, falls within the peak drought period that lasted from 675 to 550 BCE. This 125-year megadrought helps explain why Nineveh was not resettled for over a century after its abandonment, Weiss said.

[…]

Relevance to Modern Drought Cycles

The severity of the Assyrian megadrought also helps add some perspective on modern drought cycles in the Middle and Near East, Kelley said. “This study is really valuable for putting what’s happening today in this region in proper context. The past shows us what’s possible: How dry can it get [and] for how long?”

Over the past 100 years, the Middle East has experienced at least four severe multiyear droughts. “These seem to be happening with greater frequency and severity, which is in line with what we expect with climate change: Dry places are getting drier,” Kelley said. “How this contributes to political unrest in this region is very complicated, but it’s clear that climate change and drought are major factors that should not be underestimated, in the past or in the future.”

The new study was published in Science Advances in November 2019.

[…]

Citation: Morton, M. C. (2020), Megadrought helped topple the Assyrian Empire, Eos, 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO138560. Published on 15 January 2020.

Eos

Is anyone else bugged by the phrase “meteoric rise”? Meteors don’t rise. Meteoric water falls from the sky.

Clearly the droughts of today in the desert are much worse than the 125 year civilization destroying megadrought… Because climate change.

“These seem to be happening with greater frequency and severity, which is in line with what we expect with climate change: Dry places are getting drier,” Kelley said. “How this contributes to political unrest in this region is very complicated, but it’s clear that climate change and drought are major factors that should not be underestimated, in the past or in the future.”

Easy fix… Send them U-Hauls…

119 thoughts on “Climate Change Destroyed Assyrian Empire… without fossil fuels!

  1. Yes, I agree that the header is clumsy, but a good try.

    “The writer… describing the company’s rise as meteoric, meant to convey that it has been swift and spectacular. But meteors do not rise; they fall. They blaze briefly in the night sky and as quickly disappear. So a meteoric career is one of spectacular success followed by sudden oblivion.”

          • Well, a week ago you were all in on the “literally” usage.
            Three headlines:
            The Meteoric Rise of Professor Jordan Peterson
            Greta Thunberg’s Meteoric Rise to Fame
            actress Naomi Ackie on her meteoric rise to fame
            A Timeline Of Cardi B’s Meteoric Rise To Fame
            {– – winking smiley face – – Poe’s Law}

          • And we all know that “literally” no longer means literally because climate change has bastardized the language… 😎

          • Meteoric, as in flashing into brilliance and then fading out quickly, not trajectory visual rise and fall.

          • In that bastardized sense of the word, “meteoric” would describe the entire arc of the civilization… Exactly not like how it is commonly misused… “the ancient civilization’s meteoric rise and catastrophic collapse.”

          • “In democratic countries, where public opinion matters, the left has used its verbal talents to change the whole meaning of words and to substitute new words, so that issues would be debated in terms of their redefined vocabulary, instead of the real substance of the issues.”
            Dr. Thomas Sowell

      • It accomplished its fitness function: to streak across the sky, and, with good fortune, obliterate its target upon impact. Humans have a more complex fitness function: to conceive, evolve, and develop until death do us part.

          • “round object to be aimed at in shooting” first recorded 1757
            – etymonline.com

            A semantic squabble. Evolution sets a meteor on its path, and without attempting to infer a destiny or motive, it will reach a target, or exist forever.

          • Generally, it’s another meteor or some other impact event and gravity that sets a meteor on its path and frequently alters it.

            Science needs to defend words. Look at what happened to “organic.”

      • David Middleton January 16, 2020 at 6:29 pm
        Hi, meteor silly comparison. Drought, maybe but it doesn’t help the fact that the Assyrians burned down many of the cities they went to war with. Climate change? Maybe all the burning cities done it.

        David, they were the first army with a trained corps of engineers. Have shovel will travel.

        The folks around them got tired of the Assyrians beating the crap out of them ever year, soo they ganged up on them..
        A little background on them. The droughts effected their neighbors equally.

        https://www.ushistory.org/civ/4d.asp

        michael

      • David:
        You are inquiring about the vagaries of press releases and movie magic where reality isn’t interesting unless fictionalized, dramatized and incredibly exaggerated.

        “Is anyone else bugged by the phrase “meteoric rise”? Meteors don’t rise. Meteoric water falls from the sky.”

        When Hollywood agents exaggerate about their egotistical narcissist clients, i.e. “stars”.

        Unknown actors/actresses rising to superstar status with the release of a new movie described by agents and news personnel who were much more concerned with a word’s impact and imagery than they were with semantics of a word’s actual meaning.

        A star’s rise to superstardom? i.e. described by the press as a ‘meteoric rise’.
        No relation to meteors or the actual meaning of ‘star’ or ‘meteor’. Still, popularity and fan worship acknowledgement have achieved colloquial language usage.
        Keeping in mind that most people’s view of meteors are the common high altitude flameouts. Some folks outside of urban light pollution have watched larger meteors streak across the skies.

        Only leaving linguists, OCD scientists and engineers confused by human ego meanings assigned to extraterrestrial objects.

        Just a commenter driveby…

        • Which exactly doesn’t fit how it is used in the article… “the ancient civilization’s meteoric rise and catastrophic collapse.”

          Meteoric in the sense of burning brightly and the flaming out would cover the entire arc of the civilization. A meteoric rise followed by a sudden collapse makes no sense with either definition of meteoric. While Eos isn’t a strictly technical scientific journal, it is a publication of the American Geophysical Union, not a pulp tabloid. Maybe I’m expecting too much from the AGU.

          • Looking at the author; ‘Mary Caperton Morton;.

            INTERVIEW WITH MARY CAPERTON MORTON
            This week’s featured Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010 contributor is a mountain-scaling, photo-snapping, science-and-travel-writing vagabond who once lived in an off-the-grid solar “Earthship” in rural New Mexico: Mary Caperton Morton. Her stories have been published in EARTH Magazine, Smithsonian, and Climbing, to name a few. ”

            I submit that to the author words are used for imagery, not dictionary definition, meaning and usage.

            Does it impair understanding her writing, especially as it applies to meaning and science?
            H℈ll yes!

        • “Quantum jump” too is a very bad comparison for “any sudden and significant change, advance, or increase.”

          an abrupt transition of a system described by quantum mechanics from one of its discrete states to another, as the fall of an electron in an atom to an orbit of lower energy

          Indicates in the one or the other scientific view a decrease 😀

    • Isn’t groundwater also meteoric? It’s known to rise. I guess using the success metaphor, it rises triumphantly to the surface and then evaporates in disappointment.

      • Meteoric water can only rise after it falls out of the sky, percolates into the ground and finds its way into just the right sort of aquifer, or is lifted by a rising water table due to too much meteoric water falling out of the sky… Or gets pumped out of an aquifer.

  2. No fossil fuels, but I bet their oxen farted a cataclysm. (alarmists have all the angles covered)

    • ‘Dry places are getting drier‘ because of modern AGW/CC? Where’s the evidence? If true, don’t just make a statement of your assessed ‘fact’, cite the evidence.

      • But… It’s what the climate models predicted… Because the models predicted everything that has, hasn’t, is, isn’t, will or won’t happen.

        • 97% of what they predict won’t happen… The other 3% might.

          (Sorry, but I am just laughing too hard to take any of this seriously)

    • It’s a perfectly good term…it basically means a “cave formation” or better yet, a “cave thingy”. The formations can’t help it if they actually LOOK pornographic – it’s just what “thems” do.

      The problem with them (as in almost all proxies) is they grow based on more than one variable. 1) Water must be slightly acidic 2) it has to dissolve some mineral to the point of near saturation 3) the water has to evaporate becoming super-saturated 4) the mineral is left behind growing a formation (of the mineral).

      So, anything that affects the amount of water, the amount of mineral dissolved, the evaporation of water, and the final deposition of mineral impacts the growth rate. You cannot resolve anything with certainty using the growth rate.

      This study refers to the ratio of ratios of isotopes of oxygen and uranium with the mineral (because they learned that the growth rate is basically meaningless). These, they helpfully tell you, are affected by precipitation AND temperature (notice the “AND”). Well, they actually are missing the boat – it’s affected by water availability (from any source) and multiple temperatures (air and ground). So again, the proxy is not as informative as one would hope… (it’s called faith). If you cannot control for all of these variables then the error margin approaches noise.

      Proxies can give you approximations and ideas for further testing, but they ARE NOT DIRECT MEASUREMENTS and should not be treated so, and this is what scientists keep forgetting. Take everything with a grain of salt. (MY mother was always right)

  3. Fartation of the lambs, or mules, or oxen. . . or something, maybe termites. That’s it, for sure! It also means that banning cars, trucks and tractors, and going back to draft animals is apt to do more harm than good.

    O, the humanity! O, the apocalypse! O, the flatulent critters!

    Unless of course, Mother Nature had something to do with it, and didn’t consult the people.

  4. Everything is due to climate change. Your army loses a battle at Agincourt because your horses were slowed by a muddy field. That means rain and we know that climate change is causing rain patterns to change and intensity to increase. Of course Henry and the English were armed with long bows. Arrows fly straighter, faster, further in….total crap that anyone can make up.

  5. fall of Assyrian Empire was caused by coalition of Babylonia, Medes, Cimmerians and Scythians, all of whom had been oppressed by Assyria and ensured that its main cities were totally destroyed.

    Interestingly, the present-day demarcation between Sunni and Shia in Iraq is at almost exactly the same location as the Bronze Age demarcation between Assyria and Babylonia.

    Also the area covered by ISIS at its peak (northern Iraq and northern Syria) was very similar to extent of Assyrian Empire in early Iron Age (~900 BC). Routes of ISIS marching to and from Baghdad followed same routes as, for example, Tukulti-Ninurta II, an early Iron Age Assyrian emperor.

    • Hmm, that IS an interesting observation… You do know that river channels have changed a lot since that time? Still, it is an interesting observation even if it’s coincidence. Going to have to open my history books now.

    • This why I love this site. You can’t seem to have a conversation like this anywhere else. This type of stuff has inspired my delving into history more (hoping modern nihilist Philistines haven’t yet revised this topic).

      I used to be deemed a good conversationalist, having a head full of diverse snippets that I could count on being fleshed out in discussions. Today, I get cut-off by supposedly educated persons telling me “Who needs this s***”. I see that occupation with a #me too, etc mentality is what was needed to create rhe present Malthusian dreck.

      • Holocene paleoclimatology and the history of human civilization are inextricably linked together… It’s about as interdisciplinary as it gets.

  6. The prophecy repeats: our Posterity will suffer the progress of [catastrophic] [anthropogenic] climate cooling… warming… change, which will require us to make human sacrifices… and they will not know snow anymore.

    • Troja too often was left and rebuild after longer draught.
      Mangini wrote about. At these times, seems there has been a more or less stronger east-mediterranean monsun

      • Krishna Gans
        January 17, 2020 at 3:45 am

        Krishna,

        There is still no clear or certain information, not as yet in the consideration where Troja actually “stood” geographically, in the map so to say… as far as I can tell.

        Do you think or know the “historical” proposition to be contrary to my point?

        And definitely, in the light of Homer’s account, Troja was neither described as a kingdom or empire or a City State.

        That description puts Troja to be “viewed” like a nation that resembles very closely a Republic, a rich, strong and highly successful one, with Ilion, its capital city so large and wide and well fortified and protected, as it was impossible for the greek armies to properly and fully surrender-siege it or attempting to “storm” it, even after 9 long years of war in territories of Troja, with not even the chance of destroying the Trojan field armies during that time.

        cheers

          • Ok thanks Krishna.

            What I was referring to was the Iliad of Homer.
            From one of most academic translations of Iliad, Paris the Trojan is a Trojan, not Greek. And Troja of Homer is not Greek territory.
            Ilion definitely no Helenic- Roman… as per Iliad.

            Name of the Trojan Paris is Alexandros, as in Iliad.
            Paris is a title… not a name… which means other rulers could have had it…
            Greek or others there over history.

            There is info of a Troy city in what could have being in it’s earlier stage in the Greek territories… Where in its time known as Troy, had a “Paris”, a ruler, going by the name Semionis… definitely not Alexandros the Paris, the ruler of Troja of Iliad.

            So we may be not in the same page about Troja or Troy,
            Where you may have some point there as put in your comment, according to your reference, but my reply was in consideration of Troy as per Iliad, in consideration of you addressing it as Troja rather then Troy.

            Well, in the end depends on the reference one relies, and the value there.
            In my understanding, the Troy in your reference does not match the Troy or Troja of Homer… the famous Legendary one.

            cheers

    • nicholas.

      What do you think it will happen to an Empire, after many many years, for not saying decades, their treasures like gold, silver, precious stones and other very valuable things including knowledge, kept being given away in considerable large quantities,
      with nothing nothing much given in return, contrary to as supposed and expected to?

      cheers

  7. So it wasn’t the angel of death that did in the Assyrians?

    The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
    And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
    And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
    When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

    Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
    That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
    Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
    That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

    For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
    And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
    And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
    And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

    And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
    But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
    And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
    And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

    And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
    With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
    And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
    The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

    And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
    And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
    And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
    Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

    (The Destruction of Sennacherib, Lord Byron)

    • One of my mother’s favourite poems, she learnt many by heart as a child and recited them to us as children. She could still do it well into her 80s. A family seanchaí

      Thank you for triggering some happy memories.

  8. I think the Assyrians’ failure was related to a lack of foresight. The great historian Bob Newhart had a similar observation about the General Chariot Company, in a monologue about it’s president. In a speech to the sales force, the president spoke the wonderful lines “So after all fellas, we gotta modernize our thinking. Now this is 421 BC, we’re gonna have to look ahead to 420.”

  9. Assyrians were able to beat the crap out of some of their neighbours to build an empire,
    then later on some their neighbours beat the crap out of them to end the empire and start their own.
    Out of all the well documented fallen empires were any due to climate change ? I don’t think so.

    • ‘were any due to climate change?’ – well, there was definitely a change in the political climate, and that is hard core anthropogenic to the max.

  10. The abstract of the paper includes inter alia: “… here, we present a high-resolution and precisely dated speleothem record of climate change from the Kuna Ba cave in northern Iraq …”.
    On the other hand Mary Caperton Morton studiously avoids the term in her article in Eos on the Assyrian megadrought, the closest she allows is: “… changes in climate may seem like an obvious culprit …”.
    The intentionally ambiguous term (CC) has been a useful propaganda tool for alarmists but when used in relation to a pre-industrial era could raise awkward doubts in the general readership viz. a tacit admission that indeed CO2 from fossil fuel use may not be a necessary nor sufficient but merely a contributory cause of current climate change.

  11. CO2 from burning fossil fuel didn’t affect the Assyrians, therefore how can it affect anyone?
    Is this what you’re asking?

  12. The Babylonians and Persians beat the Assyrians and Egyptians in the battle of Carchemish around 605 BC. If the drought was so hard on the Assyrians, why was it not equally hard upon the conquering nations? It certainly didn’t prevent them from their ascendancy.

    • The drought didn’t affect them because the Babylonians and Persians jumped into their Tesla Chariots after the battle and returned home.

      Some of them faced discipline for unacceptably brutal behavior during the battle, though.

      They were charged with battery.

  13. Reading through the comments has been unexpectedly educational.

    Climate change DOES occur…not unexpectedly or occasionally but all the damn time. It never just remains the same, it is always changing whether we notice or not. It is the big changes that impact ancient cultures that we notice.

    Northern Africa was once a vast grassland with lakes and forests near the water sources. Over time it became drier, until the lakes dried up, the forests died, and the grasslands became sand dunes. This was not anything to do with mankind (or woman – I am now afraid not to acknowledge women as if “mankind” did not include them!) The climate changed due to forces upon the Earth we still do not understand.

    Central America was once a place where vast lakes existed and man learned to channel waters (canals) to increase the agricultural land area. It too dried up, lakes shrank and some disappeared, and civilizations collapsed (more than once). Again, mankind had nothing to do with this. It is all part of an invisible collection of natural forces acting upon climate.

    Now of course, there are no natural causes…I guess mother nature must have died. Now any changes that can be noticed are due to mankind. If someplace gets wetter, and another drier, it is the fault of mankind. It’s as if our civilization has collectively agreed to ignore thousands of years of history in order to blame mankind, so that they will agree to change cultural practices that have made them the master of their world…but that would be too weird – no one is stupid enough to fall for that obvious political feint.

  14. Well, the other glaring error is that warm periods are wetter, not dry. It is cold periods that cause megadrought and great desert expansion, not warm periods.

    • Exactly. A quick look at the GISP2 ice core data shows that the fall of the Assyrian Empire corresponds perfectly with the cool period between the Minoan and Roman warm periods. As a matter of interest, GISP2 shows the Little Ice Age as being more than a degree C cooler still.

      I’ve noticed in many reports and documentaries about the demise of many civilisations that “climate change” is often blamed, with the obvious implications for modern climate change. What they fail tomention is that, probably without exception, these civilisations died during cold periods. The historical record clearly shows something very simple and profound: warm is good, cold is bad.
      Chris

      • And… If they only had fossil fuels, they could have adapted to the changing climate, or rented U-Hauls and moved to where the food was.

  15. No fossil fuel at that time?
    Who cares.
    That draught WAS anthropogenic.
    Mega-deforestation and extensive agriculture by that civilization caused the draught.
    The same two cause the present drastic climate change.

  16. I did like this bit-

    “This fits into a historical pattern that is not only structured through time and space, but a time and space that is filled with environmental change,” says Weiss. “These societies experienced climatic changes that were of such magnitude they could not simply adapt to them,” he adds.

    With these new speleothem records, says Weiss, paleoclimatologists and archaeologists are now able to identify environmental changes in the global historical record that were unknown and inaccessible even 25 years ago. “History is no longer two-dimensional; the historical stage is now three-dimensional,” said Weiss.
    https://beforeitsnews.com/science-and-technology/2019/11/what-toppled-the-great-assyrian-empire-2968004.html

    So much for the settled science for the last quarter of a century eh doomsters?

  17. Talk about Assyrians destroying Niniveh! Daniel of the Bible told a different story.
    The modern variant is British strategist Bernard Lewis’ “Clash of Civilizations”, followed by his protege Pompeo, as he said himself.
    The sheer hubris to blame the result of this British policy – massive migration, plunder, mass murder – since Lewis protege Brzezinski’s AlQueda/ISIS, on “climate” shows the true face of the massive lie being foisted on the entire Transatlantic.

    Today, more than ever, Rembrandt’s Balshazar’s Feast :
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/52776626862372525/
    is a warning :
    MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSHIM
    “Measured and found wanting”, applies to the empire Bolton, Pompeo actually serve (hint – not the USA).

    What an irony that President Trump dumped the massive climate lie, and is under immense attack from within and without.

      • Very good link. It sure looks like Troy was only part of basically a LBA Holocaust. We have Homer’s report – Greeks (Ionians) lost their written language, cities emptied, never repopulated. Even some are still not found. Homer used the new Phoenician, sea-peoples, alphabet.
        The irony is that it took Ventris, a London architect, to show the old LBA Linear B was Greek – Greeks actually spoke Greek! Academia had fallen into a dark age saying they spoke a mixture of languages, Phrygian.

        What was the motive to attack Troy? A suicidal 10 year war, killing off most fighters, destroying Greek and Hittite culture. Sounds exactly like the Regime-Change oligarchy today that have hollowed out the US military, ruined south-west Asia, and now Pompeo wants to go after Iran, intending to attack cultural sites, as Trump uttered.

        Homer is mostly banned from schools, as he lays the mass-murderous oligarchical mindset before everyone’s eyes – a historic warning. Only so the oligarchy can claim that that genocide was because “climate”.

  18. The past shows us what’s possible: How dry can it get [and] for how long? – article

    So these people have not yet been to that massive salt pan called the Great Nefud Desert on the Arabian peninsula? Or to the Atacama Desert in Chile?

    That’s kind of sad. Limited point of view.

  19. If the Assyrian empire had been able to use fossil fuels, it might have been able to survive the drought.

  20. The whole point of this article is that climate can change naturally, without any human influence. If the Assyrians had the needed technology, they could have tried building dams across the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to conserve water during the droughts, and irrigating their crops.

    It’s also interesting that this drought (around 650 BC) in what is now northern Iraq corresponds closely with the rise of the Babylonian empire (now southern Iraq) which conquered Israel and Judea, as recorded in the Bible (particularly the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations). Could this drought have not affected Babylon, and allowed Babylon to expand militarily against both Assyria and Israel?

    It is also interesting to note that many of the great palaces and pyramids in Egypt were built on what is now desert, far to the west of the Nile River. It may be possible that Egypt had a much wetter climate during the time of the Pharaohs, and they were able to farm and live on land that is now too dry, and a later drought forced the population to move to the Nile delta.

    Climate change is a natural occurrence, and has been occurring for thousands of years, so that affected people have the option of adapting to the new climate or moving to a more favorable location. If drought is a problem, people have the option of transporting water from where it is abundant to where it is needed (via reservoirs, dams, aqueducts, or canals) or moving to a wetter climate. Such adaptations were made by the Romans around the Mediterranean, and also by the early settlers of Utah and California.

    If flooding by the sea is a problem, adaptation can take the form of building dikes or sea walls to prevent flooding, as has been practiced by the Dutch over several centuries. In either case, fossil fuels can be useful in powering the required earth-moving equipment.

    • ” It may be possible that Egypt had a much wetter climate during the time of the Pharaohs”

      It was wetter, yes, particularly during the Old Empire before “the 4.2 KA event”, but not much wetter, and the “the red land” (as the egyptians called the desert) could not be farmed in contrast to “the black land”, the Nile Valley.

      The climate shift that drove people out of the Sahara and into the Nile Valley was much earlier, about 6,000 years ago. Before that the valley oddly enough seems to have been almost unpopulated since the end of the last ice age.

  21. “…which is in line with what we expect with climate change”

    Denied. Climate models are generally awful wrt general parameters, but even worse about weather changes in specific regions. The practitioner-priests admit as much. Frankly, what is reportedly “expected” from climate change seems to go up and down rather more frequently than the Assyrian Empire and a whore’s drawers put together.

    People talking about what is expected from climate change are usually not just ignorant or lying, but both.

  22. There was an even worse megadrought about 4200 years ago (“the 4.2 KA event”).

    That one destroyed the Egyptian Old Empire, Eblaite civilization, the Akkadian empire, the Indus civilization and a whole slew of minor cultures from Spain to China. It even killed off a lot of Dodos down on Mauritius.
    That time too, it took several centuries before the abandoned towns in northern Mesopotamia were repopulated.

    And incidentally it is the GSSP defining the boundary between the Meghalayan and the Northgrippian stages.

  23. Most people ignore the very long and colorful history and organization of the Assyrian Empire over the more recent Roman Empire. Assyria was a miracle in organisation, smarts, and stamina. They built an empire-wide road system when Rome was still a village on the Tiber river. Many fascinating cultures are thought to have fallen due to Climate Change. The first real empire, the Akkadian Empire fell due to climate change. Egypt’s old empire, some pre-Columbian civilisations and the Western Roman Empire plus many more. Climate Change has been with us since the dawn of time.

  24. Hi David,

    Thanks for pointing out ‘meteoric rise’: I’d never noticed the oxymoronisity of it.

    The entire title is a bit florid:
    “Megadrought Helped Topple the Assyrian Empire
    Paleoclimate records shed light on the ancient civilization’s meteoric rise and catastrophic collapse.”

    Quite the helpful drought, light-shedding records (on fire?), and then the Assyrian brief flash of brilliance.
    ‘Meteoric rise’ seems especially silly for an empire that existed for millennia in one form or another. Anyway, the origin of the phrase is discussed here:
    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-met1.htm

    • I didn’t really mean for that to be the focus of the post. “Meteoric rise” is just a pet peeve, like “organic food” and “irregardless”.

      The paleoclimatology stuff is pretty cool… But anyone who’s spent any time looking at history and paleoclimatology already knew that most of history’s civilization disrupting climate change involved droughts, usually associated with the millennial scale climate cycle.

      • “I didn’t really mean for that to be the focus of the post. “Meteoric rise” is just a pet peeve, like “organic food” and “irregardless”.”

        Whenever I go to the grocery store, my inner gremlin is tempted to ask a store clerk where the inorganic produce is.

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