From: Tim Wall, Discovery News
Published August 29, 2012 06:33 AM

Study Reveals that Drought Brought Down Ancient Egypt

The drought parching the United States is one of the worst in the nation's history, but it hasn't been as destructive as the drought that may have withered ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom. Pollen and charcoal buried in the Nile Delta 4,200 years ago tell the tale of a drought of literally Biblical proportions associated with the fall of the pyramid builders.

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"Even the mighty builders of the ancient pyramids more than 4,000 years ago fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate," said U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt in a press release. "This study illustrates that water availability was the climate-change Achilles Heel then for Egypt, as it may well be now, for a planet topping seven billion thirsty people."

Evidence of other empire toppling droughts lay buried in the sediments of the Nile River until it was dug up by a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student who now works for the USGS. The results were published in Geology.

Approximately 5,000 years ago, another drought may have hastened the demise of the kingdom of Uruk in what is now Iraq.

In an echo of modern times, Syria suffered during a drought 3,000 years ago. The Babylonians too felt the effects of famine from that drought. On the coast of the eastern Mediterranean, the Ugarit kingdom fell at that time.

Temple of Karnak photo via Shutterstock.

Read more at Discovery News.

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