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Megadrought and CollapseFrom Early Agriculture to Angkor$
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Harvey Weiss

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199329199

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199329199.001.0001

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4.2 ka BP Megadrought and the Akkadian Collapse

4.2 ka BP Megadrought and the Akkadian Collapse

Chapter:
(p.93) Chapter 3 4.2 ka BP Megadrought and the Akkadian Collapse
Source:
Megadrought and Collapse
Author(s):

Harvey Weiss

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199329199.003.0004

The Akkadians, of southern Mesopotamia, created the first empire ca. 2300 BC with the conquest and imperialization of southern irrigation agriculture and northern Mesopotamian dry-farming landscapes. The Akkadian Empire conquered and controlled a territory of roughly 30,000 square kilometers and, importantly, its wealth in labor and cereal crop-yields. The Empire maintained a standing army, weaponry, and a hierarchy of administrators, scribes, surveyors, craft specialists, and transport personnel, sustainable and profitable for about one hundred years. Archaeological excavations indicate the empire was still in the process of expansion when the 2200 BC–1900 BC/4.2–3.9 ka BP global abrupt climate change deflected or weakened the Mediterranean westerlies and the Indian Monsoon and generated synchronous megadrought across the Mediterranean, west Asia, the Indus, and northeast Africa. Dry-farming agriculture domains and their productivity across west Asia were reduced severely, forcing adaptive societal collapses, regional abandonments, habitat-tracking, nomadization, and the collapse of the Akkadian Empire. These adaptive processes extended across the hydrographically varied landscapes of west Asia and thereby provided demographic and societal resilience in the face of the megadrought’s abruptness, magnitude, and duration.

Keywords:   4.2 ka BP climate event, Mesopotamian archaeology, Akkadian Empire, collapse, megadrought, habitat tracking, dry-farming agriculture, multi-stack proxy data

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