Case Studies:Case study 39
 Climate change and the collapse of the Akkadian empire
H. M. Cullen, P. B. deMenocal, S. Hemming, G. Hemming, F. H. Brown, T. Guilderson and F. Sirocko
The Akkadian empire ruled Mesopotamia from the headwaters of the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers to the Persian Gulf during the late third millennium B.C. Archeological evidence has shown that this highly developed civilization collapsed abruptly near 4170 ± 150 calendar yr B.P., perhaps related to a shift to more arid conditions. Our results document A very abrupt increase in aeolian dust found in a sediment core is radiocarbon dated to 4025 ± 125 calendar yr B.P., which persisted for approximately 300 years. Radiogenic (Nd and Sr) isotope analyses confirm that the observed increase in mineral dust was derived from Mesopotamian source areas. Geochemical correlation of volcanic ash shards between the archeological site and marine sediment record establishes a direct temporal link between Mesopotamian aridification and social collapse, implicating a sudden shift to more arid conditions as a key factor contributing to the collapse of the Akkadian empire.
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Keywords: Akkadian, Mesopotamia, Bronze Age, climate change, aeolian, Radiogenic isotope analyses