‘Megacities’ of the Indus Valley region of Pakistan and north-west India declined and never recovered because of a dramatic increase in drought conditions, according to new research
Monday 03 March 2014
The world’s first great civilisations appear to have collapsed because of an ancient episode of climate change – according to new research carried out by scientists and archaeologists.
Their investigation demonstrates that the Bronze Age ‘megacities’ of the Indus Valley region of Pakistan and north-west India declined during the 21st and 20th centuries BC and never recovered – because of a dramatic increase in drought conditions.
The research, carried out by the University of Cambridge and India’s Banaras Hindu University, reveals that a series of droughts lasting some 200 years hit the Indus Valley zone – and was probably responsible for the rapid decline of the great Bronze Age urban civilization of that region.
The findings correlate chronologically with drought evidence found over recent years by other scientists who have examined deposits from the bottom of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman as well as stalactites from caves in North east India and southern Arabia.
It’s now thought likely that the droughts at around that time were partly responsible for the collapse not only of the Indus Valley Civilisation, but also of the ancient Akkadian Empire, Old Kingdom Egypt and possibly Early Bronze Age civilizations in Greece.
“Our evidence suggests that it was the most intense period of drought – probably due to frequent monsoon failure – in the 5000 year-long period we have examined,” said University of Cambridge Palaeoclimate scientist Professor David Hodell.