HUMANPAST.NET

Environment                  2,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

The onset of drier conditions around this time also brought famine to Egypt. A relief from the Unas Causeway at the Saqquara Pyramid shows the emaciated victims of famine. ...the evidence of rapid climate change around 4.2 kya appears to be restricted to southwest Asia and Egypt. In addition, it is almost certainly linked to the permanent shift to drier conditions observed in northern Nigeria that occurred around 4.1 kya. (145)

Southwest Asia

 Photographs of the Sinai Peninsula from space still show the immense cavity and the crack in the surface where the nuclear explosion had taken place. The area itself is strewn, to this day, with crushed, burnt, and blackened rocks; they contain a highly unusual ratio of isotope uranium-235, indicating in expert opinions exposure to sudden immense heat of nuclear origin. The upheaval of the cities in the plain of the Dead Sea caused the southern shore of the sea to collapse, leading to a flooding of the once fertile area and its appearance, to this day, as an appendage separated from the sea by a barrier called "El-Lissan" ('The Tongue"). Interestingly, the relevant Mesopotamian texts confirm the topographic change and even suggest that the sea became a Dead Sea as a result of the nuclear bombing: Erra, they tell, "Dug through the sea, its wholeness he divided; that which lives in it, even the crocodiles, he made wither." (137)

The scientific journal Science devoted its issue of 27 April 2001 to Paleoclimate worldwide. In a section dealing with the events in Mesopotamia, it refers to evidence from Iraq, Kuwait, and Syria that the "widespread abandonment of the alluvial plain" between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers was due to dust storms "commencing 4025 years B.P." ("Before the Present"). The study leaves unexplained the cause of the abrupt "climate change," but it adopts the same date for it: 4025 years before A.D. 2001. The fateful year, modern science confirms, was 2024 BC. (137)

The onset of drier conditions around this time also brought famine to Egypt. A relief from the Unas Causeway at the Saqquara Pyramid shows the emaciated victims of famine. ...the evidence of rapid climate change around 4.2 kya appears to be restricted to southwest Asia and Egypt. In addition, it is almost certainly linked to the permanent shift to drier conditions observed in northern Nigeria that occurred around 4.1 kya. (145)

So where exactly had this great cedar forest of the gods been located? In the oldest forms of the Epic of Gilgamesh written in Sumerian, the text is quite clear: it is in the Zagros mountains of Kurdistan. Later forms of the epic written in Assyrian times speak of the forest as being in Lebanon, although this is almost certainly incorrect. Palaeo-climatological research has shown that such forests replaced the cold tundra and sparse grasslands that had covered the lower valley regions of the Kurdish highlands after the final retreat of the last Ice Age, somewhere around 8500 BC. The appearance of powerful Asian monsoons in northern Mesopotamia and north-western Iran around this time had brought about dramatic changes in the climatic conditions of the Kurdish highlands, creating vast inland lakes as well as the proliferation of lush vegetation during the spring and summer months. Thick forests of deciduous trees, including cedars, began to grow in the valleys and on the mountain slopes, while the higher elevations turned into lush grasslands, ideal for cultivation. Indeed, these severe climatic changes corresponded almost exactly with the first appearance of the earliest neolithic communities in Kurdistan. Yet then, sometime between 3000 and 2000 BC, these Asian monsoons slowly retreated, leaving the region devoid of its essential spring and summer rains. As a consequence, the lower valleys suffered most, with a reduction in the variety of vegetation, and a slow desiccation of the neighbouring lowland regions, a process that continues to this day. (149)

It was also during this last period of prehistory that the Sumerians began wholesale felling of these vast mountain forests, both for building construction and as charcoal for brick furnaces and domestic fires. As a consequence, by the start of the first millennium BC the cedar forests of the Zagros no longer existed. Not only did this bring about huge ecological damage to the region, it also paved the way for gross geographical inaccuracies both in later versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and in many other myths and legends of this period. (149)

Egypt

Fossil shells of the large land snail, found in stage 3 surface soils in northwestern Sudan, provide evidence of at least twelve inches of annual precipitation during the late stage of this Neolithic Pluvial. Radiocarbon ages determined on the organic fraction of the snail shells range from 4500 BC at the north end of the study area, to later than 1100 BC at the south end, indicative of a retreating forest-savanna during the final stages of the pluvial period in northwestern Sudan. (70)

Aridity may have slightly lessened during the fourth millennium BC, with annual rainfall around six inches, but the climate continued to deteriorate. Plant fossils suggest that the climate through 2000 BC became increasingly more arid, with estimated annual rainfall of less than four inches. (70)

As local rainfall dwindled and the climate became progressively more arid, the lake at Selima diminished in size and disappeared around 2000 BC. (70)

The onset of drier conditions around this time also brought famine to Egypt. A relief from the Unas Causeway at the Saqquara Pyramid shows the emaciated victims of famine. ...the evidence of rapid climate change around 4.2 kya appears to be restricted to southwest Asia and Egypt. In addition, it is almost certainly linked to the permanent shift to drier conditions observed in northern Nigeria that occurred around 4.1 kya. (145)

Indus Valley

Compared to the Nile, the Indus River, and probably the Ghaggar-Hakra River as well, were relatively unpredictable, with great annual fluctuations in their volume and course. Frequently, the rivers flowed across the countryside in devastating floods. But unlike Egypt, for example, rainfall in the Indus Valley after about 240O BC--S spanning the period of both Harappa's rise and fall as a civilization--was sufficient for some dry-land farming an stock-raising, and thus the people of the Indus were not totally dependent upon their rivers. (48)

Hydrologist Robert Raikes suggests that Harappan civilization was terminated by destruction of their fields and settlements as a result of floods brought on by major Shifts of the earth's crust near the mouth of the Indus River. B. K. Thapar sees the demise of Harappa in a destructive combination of several factors, including: (1) tectonic movements that made the Indus and other rivers in this area prone to shifting courses and flooding at destructive levels; (2) wholesale destruction of forests and over-grazing in the Himalayan foothills that led to erosion and subsequent changes in stream courses as these channels built up their beds with silt; (3) tectonic movements and marine regressions that stranded major ports several kilometers inland and lowered the water table in many areas. (48)

The Sarasvati began to dry out towards the end of the third millennium BC and to all extents and purposes had ceased to flow by the early second millennium BC. (124)

China

 In the northeast of China [Manchuria], peat deposition seems to have begun in the mid-Holocene, coincident with a cooling of climate after 5 kya. Lake levels indicate conditions moister than present over most of China up until 3.5 kya. Magnetic susceptibility of loess profiles presents the same picture. Evidence of Neolithic agriculture in northwestern regions of China that are currently too arid for crop­growing is further testimony of the moister climate that prevailed at around 5 kya. Agriculture was already present and expanding throughout the southeast Asian region, but deforestation in southern China and in the monsoon zones of Indo-China does not appear to have been significant until after around 4 kya. (145)

Europe

Ash believed to be from a great explosive eruption that buried the Minoan colony on the island of Santorini 36 centuries ago has been extracted from deep in an ice core retrieved in 1993 from central Greenland. Its depth in the core indicated that the Aegean eruption...occurred in or about 1623 BC. (89)

2000 BC Climate in northern Scotland starts to deteriorate (160)

South America

 By about 2500 BC, many small sedentary communities had appeared along the Andean coast. (52)

Mesoamerica

 The environment of Olman offered exceptional subsistence opportunities to foragers, fishers, and farmers with its many wetlands, streams, lakes, and estuaries, its extensive forests and savannas, and its generally ample rainfall and freedom from frost. The mixed subsistence economy documented archaeologically would have insulated the Olmec populace from hunger and was capable of generating substantial surpluses. (159)

North America

 In some prehistoric periods the Southwest was wetter than it is today, but for most of the last ten thousand years the Southwest has usually been at least as hot and dry as it is today, and there were short periods of extreme drought. (53)

Other

 Evidence of volcanic activty is found in ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica. These show only three layers of acid tephra from major volcanic eruptions in this period, at 2354 BC, 1627 BC and 1159 BC. (145)