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Drought And The Fall Of Assyria: Quite Another Story
Published 2016 · Geography
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A recent Climatic Change paper suggests a relationship between climatic change in the 7th century BCE and the fall of the Assyrian Empire. However, available archaeological and textual evidence does not support the hypothesis that Assyria was overpopulated during this time and for that reason susceptible to outbreaks of drought. Besides long-term climatic variation, inter-annual variability in crops has always been very high in the dry farming areas of Upper Mesopotamia. To cope with this uncertainty, the local population developed several strategies (e.g. storage of agricultural surpluses in granaries and artificial irrigation in river valleys). Finally, slave prices, known to have declined during times of famine, were relatively stable during the entire century suggesting absence of prolonged periods of food shortage.