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Abrupt climate change destroyed civilisations

IANS  |  Washington 

Some of the earliest civilisations in the Middle East and the Fertile Crescent may have been affected by abrupt climate change, says a study.

Socio-economic factors were traditionally considered to shape ancient human societies in this region.

But the influence of abrupt climate changes that occur in the span of years to decades, should not be underestimated, said the scientists.

The team probed climate change and changes in paleoenvironmental conditions during the last 13,000 years based on a high-resolution peat record from Neor Lake in northwest Iran.

"The high-resolution nature of this record afforded us the rare opportunity to examine the influence of abrupt climate change on early human societies," said lead author Arash Sharifi, research scholar at the department of marine geosciences, University of Miami.

During the first half of the last inter-glacial period known as the Holocene epoch, the Middle East most likely experienced wetter conditions in comparison with the last 6,000 years.

The Fertile Crescent, a region in west Asia that extends from Iran and the Arabian Peninsula to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and northern Egypt is widely considered the birthplace of early human civilisations.

"We see that transitions in several major civilisations across this region, as evidenced by the available historical and archaeological records, coincided with episodes of high atmospheric dust; higher fluxes of dust are attributed to drier conditions across the region over the last 5,000 years," Sharifi said.

First Published: Fri, July 24 2015. 13:56 IST