Eruptions and Egyptian unrest

vics paper volc ptolemaicMembers of PAGES Volcanic Impacts on Climate and Society (VICS) working group believe volcanic eruptions, climate change and the absence of Nile summer flooding caused upheaval in ancient Egypt.

Joseph Manning et al. investigate the impact of eruptive volcanism on the Nile’s ability to flood in their paper "Volcanic suppression of Nile summer flooding triggers revolt and constrains interstate conflict in ancient Egypt" published in Nature Communications today.

The authors combine volcano–climate numerical modeling, ice-core catalogued eruption timings, ancient Egyptian documentation of socio-economic behaviour, and recordings from the Islamic Nilometer (an ancient history of Nile water levels) in their study, which shows that the lack of critically important summer flooding in Ptolemaic Egypt (305–30 BCE) correlates with volcanic eruptions, leading to societal unrest.

"That’s the beauty of these climate records," said Manning. "For the first time, you can actually see a dynamic society in Egypt, not just a static description of a bunch of texts in chronological order. This is of absolutely enormous importance."

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