Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Ancient Egypt’s rulers mishandled climate and natural disasters. Then the people revolted.

Leave a Comment

by William Wan October 17, 2017 read full Washington Post article here

The leaders of ancient Egypt knew a thing or two about natural disasters. Handle a famine or drought badly as pharaoh, and you could have empire-wide revolt on your hands.

A new study shows how big a role climate change and natural disasters likely played in sparking such political uprisings. And it suggests that despite frequent famines, the Egyptian rulers failed to grasp just how vulnerable they were to environmental devastation right up until the day their empire collapsed. It is a lesson contemporary leaders may find both instructive and alarming as they increasingly cope with one freakish weather event after another….

The study — published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications — combines ice core dating of ancient volcanic eruptions with papyrus records of uprisings to show that each time there was a volcanic eruption during Egypt’s Ptolemaic period, it led almost inevitably to unhappiness and revolt….

…Manning, co-author of Tuesday’s study, said he sees another historical lesson in the fall of Cleopatra and the Ptolemaic Empire. “For so long, they had been playing so close to the edge, fighting huge wars and growing crops that were especially vulnerable to changes in the Nile. They refused to change their politics and it left them vulnerable once larger forces in nature and in the world came along and pushed them over the edge.”

View all articles

Comments are closed