Environment around 1,000 BC



Southwest Asia

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. (From the Ashes of Angels)


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. (Before the Pharaohs)

Indus Valley



Civilization had arrived slowly and painfully in China. The great plain was isolated from the surrounding regions by high mountains and swampy, uninhabitable land. The climate was harsh, with broiling summers and icy winters, when settlements were attacked by freezing, sand-laden winds. The Yellow River was difficult to navigate and prone to flooding. The early settlers had to cut canals to drain the marshland and build dikes to stop the floods from ruining the crops. (The Great Transformation)


The climatic upheaval, which appears to have had widespread ramifications for ancient civilisations, occurred between 3.5 and 2.5 kya. Across Europe colder wetter conditions set in around 3.4 kya and the glaciers in the Alps started to expand. In northern Scotland there is a distinct and large-scale shift to wetter climatic conditions. The transition appears to have occurred abruptly, possibly over a decadal to century timescale. (Climate Change in Prehistory)

1159 BC Hekla erupts, causing ten years of poor summers in Scotland (Uriel's Machine)

South America




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. (Patterns in Prehistory)


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. (Climate Change in Prehistory)