Population boom, droughts contributed to collapse of ancient Assyrian Empire

November 5, 2014
Population boom, droughts contributed to collapse of ancient Assyrian Empire

There's more to the decline of the once mighty ancient Assyrian Empire than just civil wars and political unrest. Archaeological, historical, and paleoclimatic evidence suggests that climatic factors and population growth might also have come into play. This is the opinion of Adam Schneider of the University of California-San Diego in the US, and Selim Adali of the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations in Turkey, published in Springer's journal Climatic Change.

In the 9th century BC, the Assyrian Empire of northern Iraq relentlessly started to expand into most of the ancient Near East. It reached its height in the early 7th century BC, becoming the largest of its kind in the Near East up to that time. The Assyrian Empire's subsequent quick decline by the end of the 7th century has puzzled scholars ever since. Most ascribe it to civil wars, political unrest, and the destruction of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, by a coalition of Babylonian and Median forces in 612 BC. Nevertheless, it has remained a mystery why the Assyrian state, the military superpower of the age, succumbed so suddenly and so quickly.

Schneider and Adalı argue that factors such as and droughts also contributed to the Assyrian downfall. Recently published paleoclimate data show that conditions in the Near East became more arid during the latter half of the 7th century BC. During this time, the region also experienced significant population growth when people from conquered lands were forcibly resettled there. The authors contend that this substantially reduced the state's ability to withstand a such as the one that hit the Near East in 657 BC. They also note that within five years of this drought, the political and economic stability of the Assyrian state had eroded, resulting in a series of civil wars that fatally weakened it.

"What we are proposing is that these demographic and played an indirect but significant role in the demise of the Assyrian Empire," says Schneider.

Schneider and Adalı further draw parallels between the collapse of the Assyrian Empire and some of the potential economic and political consequences of in the same area today. They point out, for instance, that the onset of severe drought which, followed by violent unrest in Syria and Iraq during the late 7th century BC, bears a striking resemblance to the severe drought and subsequent contemporary political conflict in Syria and northern Iraq today. On a more global scale, they conclude, modern societies can take note of what happened when short-term economic and political policies were prioritized rather than ones that support long-term economic security and risk mitigation.

"The Assyrians can be 'excused' to some extent for focusing on short-term economic or political goals which increased their risk of being negatively impacted by climate change, given their technological capacity and their level of scientific understanding about how the natural world worked," adds Selim Adalı. "We, however, have no such excuses, and we also possess the additional benefit of hindsight. This allows us to piece together from the past what can go wrong if we choose not to enact policies that promote longer-term sustainability."

Explore further: Archaeologists discover lost language

More information: Schneider, A.W. & Adalı, S.F. (2014). "No harvest was reaped": demographic and climatic factors in the decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Climatic Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-014-1269-y

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Jeffhans1
5 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2014
4k years ago the Indus Valley civilization collapsed after the Monsoons failed too many years in a row. Vikings and the Mongols both are said to have started raiding after local crops failed more than one season in a row.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (6) Nov 05, 2014
The AGW Cult must be at their depths of desperation, to dig this deep just to propagate their CO2 lies.
dustywells
1.4 / 5 (5) Nov 05, 2014
The AGW Cult must be at their depths of desperation, to dig this deep just to propagate their CO2 lies.
Not likely that the faithful are behind this release. It discredits their dogma.
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2014
What's your field, dusty? Let's discuss it.
gkam
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 05, 2014
The last paragraph tells it all:
"The Assyrians can be 'excused' to some extent for focusing on short-term economic or political goals which increased their risk of being negatively impacted by climate change, given their technological capacity and their level of scientific understanding about how the natural world worked," adds Selim Adalı. "We, however, have no such excuses, and we also possess the additional benefit of hindsight. This allows us to piece together from the past what can go wrong if we choose not to enact policies that promote longer-term sustainability."
dustywells
1 / 5 (5) Nov 05, 2014
What's your field, dusty? Let's discuss it.
How true to form. The faithful just can't help themselves. Ignore the release because it doesn't fit the dogma. Ignore the comment because they can't refute it. Go straight to the personal attack.
gkam
3 / 5 (4) Nov 05, 2014
No, I want to understand your background so I can explain what you need to know.

You did the personal attack, just now.
gkam
3 / 5 (4) Nov 05, 2014

Anti-environment seems to be a religion to these folk.

Nature SCARES them. Reality ain't in the Bible.
viko_mx
1 / 5 (2) Nov 06, 2014
If people inhabit the Earth for millions of years, there would be really boom in the population in spite of hunger, disease and wars that only slow down the growth of the population in varying degrees. Negative birth rate is due to a high standard in advanced industrial societies, and this atypical phenomenon exists only for past few decades.
ekim
5 / 5 (3) Nov 06, 2014
The AGW Cult must be at their depths of desperation, to dig this deep just to propagate their CO2 lies.

It must be difficult reading and commenting on so many articles that don't fit your world view. At some point one would think that doubt would set in given the massive amounts of articles out there. Daily, there are countless studies being documented by thousands of highly educated individuals worldwide. I suppose there are always the select few who take it upon themselves to protect us from the windmills.
dustywells
1 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2014
Anti-environment seems to be a religion to these folk.

Nature SCARES them.
While I can't speak for others, I do not equate skepticism about AGW with being anti-environment. Nor am I afraid of nature taking its course.

AGW is the gospel of this generation just as the population explosion was a few decades ago and nuclear holocaust was some time before that. This is a relatively new phenomenon in human experience and can be linked to the type of evangelism made possible by mass media. Humanity simply has not yet evolved a defense against this type of hysteria.

The problem I have with the AGW gospel as it is preached is that it is too much about CO2 while ignoring or discrediting other factors. That it is too much about politics, socialism and wealth redistribution and not enough about dealing with any effects that climate change may bring.

As such, AGW is a negative religion because it preaches tearing down what we have instead of building something better.
gkam
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 06, 2014
If you choose to project your weaknesses onto others, do not be surprised when they turn out to have better character than you.

Your strawmen do not work. It is the Deniers who whine about Carbon Dioxide only, since they do not understand the other greenhouse gases. I earned a Master of Science in Energy and the Environment in 1982, and have watched as conditions got worse even faster than we originally feared. The reason is politics, as the Big Money fools the goobers again, like they did with "WMD!". Same folk, same lies.

We are building the future, while you whine abut it. Get out of the way.

You refuse to tell us your field, for good reason - it probably is one of those where everybody lies, fudges, stretches the truth, so you assume everybody else does it, too.

Sorry, but you bystanders have little credibility when it comes to science.
dustywells
1 / 5 (3) Nov 06, 2014
The above release links the fall of the Assyrian empire to climate change. There was no fossil fuel, there were no SUVs and yet climate changed. History is replete with examples of climate change without fossil fuels. The message is that the empire collapsed because the economy was unable to deal with the effects of climate change and the politics were dependent on a vibrant economy, much as we are today.

Whether AGW is a hoax or a reality, whether the global climate is warming or cooling is not the real issue. Climate has periodically changed throughout history, sometimes warmer and other times cooler but always affecting the economy of the times. Consequently, in order to protect our way of life, the focus must be kept resolutely on how to deal with the economic effects of changing climate.

dustywells
1 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2014
What is the effect of the AGW liturgy?
It is spreading fear through half-truths, misinformation and disinformation. Although I believe that most of the lay adherents mean well, the leaders and instigators are profit driven. The AGW movement offers no real solution but stridently insists the rapid abandonment of our reliance on fossil fuels.

Why should we stop using fossil fuels?
They are a depleting resource and are to blame for a variety of ill effects on our health and on the environment.

Are we willing to stop using fossil fuels?
Generally, yes.

Are we able to stop using fossil fuels?
Generally, not yet.

Why can we not stop using fossil fuels - yet?
Fossil fuels are a vital part of our global economy, not just for transportation but also a plethora of products including plastics, solvents, scents, surfactants, electricity, even food products. It will take decades or even centuries to find replacent sources for all the products.
dustywells
1 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2014
We are building the future, while you whine abut it. Get out of the way.
It's quite possible that I missed something that was said before I arrived or was lost in the noise.

Please tell me how we are building the future.
gkam
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 06, 2014
I have long advocated saving our nasty petroleum for feedstocks. It is foolish to burn it for pollution when there are better ways to get heat.

I think you believe we are in it from political prejudice, which is the reason for most Deniers. I have told you otherwise.

We already built the future in California, but you folk were in coal dust. When I was Senior Engineer in Technical Services for PG&E in the 1980's we had already started diversifying our sources, and developing generation technologies the rest of you will use. Once again: Our PG&E system was fed by wind, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, pumped storage, landfill gas, gas peaking boilers, supercritical gas boilers, solar thermal, photovoltaic, fuel cells of all kinds, some sources I forgot, and even the emergency generators in the facilities of our customers dispatched directly by us.

The diversification of resources allows great flexibility in choosing the best of alternatives at every moment.
dustywells
1 / 5 (1) Nov 06, 2014
@gkam
IIRC, the early '80s were ushered in by fuel rationing when Iran put a kink in the global oil supply. AGW had not yet been invented. It seems to me that the diversification that you helped bring about was done for economic reasons and at the time had nothing to do with climate change. Although all the research, experimentation and development that you list fits into the goals of AGW, for you to pound on the podium and claim it was done because of AGW is rather disingenuous.

Regardless of our differing stand an AGW, however, diversification and flexibility of our energy supply is essential for the economy and it does help to secure our future. For that I thank you.
gkam
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 06, 2014
" for you to pound on the podium and claim it was done because of AGW is rather disingenuous."

STOP IT! YOU made that claim, not me.

We did it because we needed the energy and that is where it was available, and forged the way for goobers to do it, too. We could not burn fossil fuels because of air quality - precursors to climate worries.

You need to find something to try to pick apart to save your ego.

Good-bye.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2014
AGW is the gospel of this generation
@dust-brain
AGW is not a faith or religion, it is a situation that is proven and there is plenty of science supporting it, which you have yet to provide any equivalent evidence proving it wrong
the type of evangelism made possible by mass media
this would entail a faith based situation and AGW is based upon science, unlike your denial of AGW, which is entirely faith based as you have never given empirical evidence proving the scientific studies wrong

PROTIP- your personal conjecture, belief or comments are not equivalent to empirical evidence published in a peer reviewed journal with an impact int he subject

your blinders are based upon a fallacy and ignoring the science is not helping you at all
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2014
The above release links the fall of the Assyrian empire to climate change
@dust-brain
from the STUDY
It would be misleading, however, to suggest that episodes of drought caused by a change in climate were the only - or even the primary - causal factor for the decline of the Assyrian Empire. We must assume that there were many other important known and unknown contingent factors that also influenced the historical trajectory of the Assyrian state during its final century.
you really should learn to read
now do you understand why you have no credibility? especially when you state
The message is that the empire collapsed because the economy was unable to deal with the effects of climate change
while the study says something different?
also please note
Our hypothesis also provides a potential explanation for the paradoxical situation which follows the civil war between Assurbanipal and his brother
this is a hypothesis
not a Theory
there is a difference
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Nov 06, 2014
What is the effect of the AGW liturgy?
It is spreading fear through half-truths, misinformation and disinformation
@dust-brain
you are describing the methods used by deniers and how they attempt to undermine actual science
please note the above posts to you and how they use real science and even refute your own conjectures about what is written by actual quotes from what is written and freely linked above
not conjecture
not half truth
not misinformation, like you were providing
but actual facts, science and quotes which you were apparently ignoring

Whether AGW is a hoax or a reality, whether the global climate is warming or cooling is not the real issue
actually, you are wrong here too
the deniers obfuscate ANY science, and ignore any evidence proving them wrong or that doesn't fit your world view, just like you did above

the denial of the science is the major defining factor of a denier, hence the pejorative label
dustywells
not rated yet Nov 06, 2014
@gkam
I'm sorry that I upset you.

But I am confused. We seem to agree that burning fossil fuels is hazardous and foolish. We seem to agree that finding and exploiting alternate sources of energy is good for the environment and good for the economy. Although we reach similar conclusions, we approach them from slightly different directions. Is that really anything to be concerned about?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2014
The AGW movement offers no real solution
@dust-brain
obfuscation/ half-truth
they offer no solutions that you (and especially big oil/money) are willing to accept

what would be the harm in introducing CO2 scrubbers to coal plants? other than financially causing Big oil/$$ to put out funds that would otherwise be huge profits?
Why can we not stop using fossil fuels - yet?
i don't know ANY realistic scientists saying we need to give it up now, nor refuting this basic premiss
this is common knowledge, so the question now would be:
why would big oil/$$ be fighting so hard to undermine the science that wants to branch out and discover alternative methods or introduce new tech that would be beneficial?

have you actually asked yourself that one?

because big oil/$$ is fighting against the science and trying to do exactly that
you can see the proof of that here: http://www.drexel...nge.ashx
dustywells
1 / 5 (3) Nov 06, 2014
@stump
"IOW - we need to do better to understand a highly complex system that we may never know all the variables to" Stumpy, October 26, 2014
You still haven't answered my question how you can be certain of a conclusion if you don't know all the variables.

Please feel free to talk to me when you can discuss the subject without the insults and name calling.

In the meantime please go away.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2014
You still haven't answered my question how you can be certain of a conclusion if you don't know all the variables.
@dust-for-brains
actually, if you would link the entire conversation, you will see how it IS answered and how i made you to look like a complete moron as well because you cannot understand how science works
http://phys.org/n...ere.html

your assumptions and argument is like saying:
the population is complex, so we will never be able to have a realistic head count nor will we ever be able to know how many sexes or races are present, nor the ratio's between the races because the sheer numbers/complexity and birth death rates are not precisely calculated matching exactly the second by second world report

i've tried discussion with you in the past
you ignore science but cling to faith/conspiracy based fallacious comments

if you don't like being called names, try linking science/evidence instead of promoting conjecture
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 06, 2014
Please feel free to talk to me when you can discuss the subject without the insults and name calling
@dusty
until you accept the science and quit promoting denier propaganda, this is not likely to occur

there is some power in utilising denigration and shame/humiliation when trying to get a person to pull their head out and see reality for what it is, especially if that person's potential is far greater than what is being demonstrated

it uses a peer based feedback response in the social part of the brain that wants recognition and feeds the ego when correct, but when humiliated, the negative response usually allows the individual to reconsider the argument used and reconfigure the style of argument, or at least push for better evidence for their claims

i will NOT go away as long as there are people posting pseudoscience and refusing to acknowledge the real science
especially if promoting denialist propaganda without evidence

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