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.”


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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