Did Climate Change Bring Sumerian Civilization to an End?

Bible and archaeology news

A geologist with the Byrd Polar Research Center believes that more than 200 years of excessive drought may have doomed the Sumerians, one of the world’s first complex civilizations whose culture and language disappeared from Mesopotamia around 4,000 years ago. At a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, geologist Matt Konfrist argued that new geological records point to an extended period of drought that began around 2200 B.C.E., with increased rates of evaporation in both the Dead Sea and the Red Sea and lower rainfall across much of the Near East. During this period of drought, archaeology shows that nearly 75 percent of ancient Mesopotamian settlements were abandoned, while waves of marauding invaders took up residence in former Sumerian areas, effectively bringing Sumerian civilization to an end. “People still live in this region,” explained Konfrist. “It’s not that the collapse of a civilization means that an area is completely abandoned, but that there’s a sharp change in the population.”


Read more about why Sumerian civilization may have collapsed.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Bronze Age Collapse: Pollen Study Highlights Late Bronze Age Drought

The Decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

The Last Days of Hattusa

Ancient Clay Tablet Offers New Insights into the Gilgamesh Epic


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  • Mervyn says

    This was the era of The Flood all round the world. Not only were the Sumerians almost wiped out but most of humanity. Climate changes have always happened in remote history.
    Nothing to do with “invaders”; nothing to do with factory chimneys or car pollution. It was (and is today) simply nature.

  • DALLAS says

    I think the Sumerians are related to the Basques. They’re not related to any major later historical language group.

    The climate change at the end of the Early Bronze Age is not a new insight. It’s been suspected, with increasing evidence, since the 1940s.

  • Tim says

    The Sumerians were a non-Semitic people, in fact it is believed that they were of Finno-Ugric origin. Because in Hungary, they can find a a great deal of traces back to the Sumerian civilization. But obviously Semitic people came to dominate, and it is assumed that the Sumerians where absorbed by them.

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