SC: The Old Kingdom collapsed and it is generally agreed that a major contributing factor was sudden and catastrophic climate change.[/i]
JB: Who generally agrees on this Scott, do you have any further information on this?
SC: There is a ton of scientific information beginning to emerge about this prolonged and devastating drought. Here are just a few snippets:
Ever since it was first recognised that the transition from the Early to the Middle Bronze Age represented a period of significant social and cultural change in many parts of the Near East, there have been attempts to explain the changes through a single overarching model (cf. Marro 2007a: 14). The archaeological record of this transitional period was characterized by changes in settlement patterns, the emergence of new cultural traits, and apparently abrupt settlement destruction and abandonment. Explanations have ranged from foreign invasions or penetration of new (ethnic) groups (Kenyon 1966) to system collapse (Butzer 1997; Peltenburg 2000). Based on ancient Egyptian texts, Bell (1971) proposed that an interruption of the annual Nile floods may have been responsible for the social disruption of the contemporary First Intermediate Period in Egypt. However, this hypothesis could not be substantiated by palaeoenvironmental data at the time and was not taken up for other parts of the Near East until the early 1990s.
In the early1990s climate change was put forward as an explanation for the changes observed in settlement patterns and in the political constellation of the Near East and beyond (Weiss et al. 1993). The study by Weiss et al. held that (a) soil micromorphological studies at and around Tell Leilan indicated the occurrence of an abrupt dry phase from 2200-1900 BC, possibly caused by an otherwise unidentified volcanic eruption . (b) this evidence was supported by indications for drought elsewhere, notably Egypt, (c) this drought led to (i) the abandonment of urban settlements in the area around Tell Leilan including Tell Leilan itself, (ii) an overall decline of settlement population in the same area, (iii) an increase in pastoral subsistence strategies at the cost of agricultural production (iv) the collapse of the Akkadian state due to gain shortages, and (v) the subsequent collapse of the Ur III state due to pressure from refugees coming form the north and grain shortages as reported in the Royal correspondence from Ur, and (d) this collapse was synchronous with collapses elsewhere in the Old World, notably the Levant, Egypt, the Aegean, and the Indus Valley.
Source: Challenging climate change, p. 2
Ethiopian drought may have caused the end of the Egyptian Old Kingdom
Monday 01 August 2011
A severe drought approximately 4,200 years ago may have contributed to the demise of the Egyptian Old Kingdom new research has found.
A new survey of Lake Tana in Ethiopia, which is the source of the Blue Nile River, has discovered, through seismic investigations and carbon dating, that there was a drought around the time that the Egyptian Old Kingdom began to decline.
Dr Richard Bates, a senior lecturer in Earth Sciences at the University of St Andrew confirms that the new data reveals that the ancient civilisation may have experienced a prolonged period of the same severity being suffered by parts of the African continent today.
A geophysics expert, Dr Bates used seismic (sound) reflection methods on Lake Tana to acquire geophysical data on how the water levels in the lake had varied over the past 17,000 years.
He said: “This allows us to get a picture of what the past environments could have looked like.”
The geophysical information was verified by drilling a 100-metre core into the sediment on the lake bed.
Dr Bates added: “The core sediments have been dated to show a time period of over a hundred thousand years but geophysical data suggests that the lake might contain an even longer record of East African climate.”
Dr Bates together with a team from the University of Aberystwyth, linked the lake’s water levels with evidence for climate change.
Previous evidence had indicated an abrupt drought in Africa around 16,500 years ago liked to changes in the Earth’s climate, but the researchers were seeking evidence of a dry period around 4,200 years ago, when the Egyptian Old Kingdom declined.
As the fertile soils of the Nile’s floodplain were the bedrock of the ancient Egyptian civilisation, long-term changes in the river’s flow would have had serious implications for the Old Kingdom’s society.
Understanding how and why rainfall patterns change can help improve prediction of rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa where prolonged droughts have serious social and economic consequences today.
Source: Ethiopian drought may have caused the end of the Egyptian Old Kingdom
"Scientists have found the first evidence that a devastating meteor impact in the Middle East might have triggered the mysterious collapse of civilisations more than 4,000 years ago. Studies of satellite images of southern Iraq have revealed a two-mile-wide circular depression which scientists say bears all the hallmarks of an impact crater. If confirmed, it would point to the Middle East being struck by a meteor with the violence equivalent to hundreds of nuclear bombs. Today's crater lies on what would have been shallow sea 4,000 years ago, and any impact would have caused devastating fires and flooding. The catastrophic effect of these could explain the mystery of why so many early cultures went into sudden decline around 2300 BC."
-- Robert Matthews, The Sunday Telegraph, 4 November 2001
Source: Cambridge-Conference Network
Like I said - there's a ton of stuff on this subject.
Post Edited (25-Jun-12 10:21)