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Изменение климата как убийца цивилизацийBy the beginning of XI century BC brilliant Mycenaean civilization ceased to exist. The city was destroyed. Survivors returned to the simple life in the countryside. Trade has stalled. The writing was forgotten.

Civilization returned only to the VIII century, Those whom we call the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, appeared Athens, Sparta and other powerful city-state. Classical Greece far exceeded predecessors and had a great influence on the whole culture of mankind.


Lions gate of Mycenae (photo Rod Hoad).

But back to Mycenae. What happened? According to the latest data, this civilization will enrich the list of those who have ruined the vagaries of climate.

That relatively small climate change could lead to unrest and wars, and large - destroy whole civilizations, it became known more than a century ago, but only in the 1990-ies the idea was solid scientific support, when experts have learned to disassemble the clues left to us by nature in the cores and stalactites.

One of the pioneers became Harvey Weiss of Yale University (USA), which established the link between climate change and the collapse of the Empire of Akkad. Conducting excavations in Syria, Mr. Weiss has found deposits of dust and suggested that about 2200 BC the climate in the region was suddenly dry. This led to a severe famine, which is confirmed by the written sources: "for the First time since the Foundation of the cities of the land is not bare grain, water gave no fish, from the gardens there was no syrup, nor wine, from heaven did not shed a single drop" ("the Curse of Akkad").

The work of Mr. Weiss made a great impression on colleagues, but evidence base was still weak. But in 2000, Peter Demenocal of Columbia University (USA) and his colleagues, based on historical data, Dating back to 1700, it was concluded that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers depends on the conditions in the North Atlantic: the inflow of cold water reduces the amount of precipitation in Mesopotamia. Then they found that it happened before the collapse of the Akkadian Empire.

Very soon it became clear that a major climate change coincided with the untimely death of a number of other civilizations. For example, despite all his achievements, declined the great Mayan civilization. In 2003 Gerald Haug of the Swiss Federal Institute of technology by the analysis of lake sediments showed that rainfall in Central America reached a peak by mid-eighth century, but there followed a period of prolonged droughts and reduced precipitation. To 830 year in the cities of the Maya stopped monumental construction, although the number of settlements had existed for several centuries.

But historians still reluctant to agree to consider climatic factors on a par with political and cultural. The fact that history has already passed something similar in the XVIII and XIX centuries, the Theory of environmental determinism argued that the structure of the company and the nature of man is influenced by environmental conditions: warm tropics condone laziness, and a temperate climate promotes active mental work. These ideas were often used to justify racism.

Mr., Demenocal reasonable objection that today no one is going to put climate at the top of anthropological corner. The climate, he said only imposes certain restrictions on civilization - for example, Badlands will not give a big harvest, anyway. And hungry people become more vulnerable to disease. On the crops come to the same pests, and so on, no matter How developed nor was the society, the collapse is inevitable.

Some believe that this is too simplistic. Karl Butter from the University of Texas at Austin (USA) indicates that the problems with climate only reveal the "institutional failure", i.e. the weaknesses of the social structure.

But it is very difficult to figure out how Maya, accustomed to abundant rainfall, could cope with the reduction in rainfall by 40%. This is a serious challenge even by today's standards. For example, today Saudi Arabia manages to completely provide itself with wheat only by pumping water from previously inaccessible depths. Hardly Maya had our drilling techniques.

About Mycenae still many unclear. Usually their death explained by the pressure from barbarians and attacks mysterious "peoples of the sea". But in 2010, the analysis of river sediments in Syria has revealed the presence of a long dry period between 1200 and 850, BC, which is almost exactly corresponds to the "dark ages" of Greek history. And this year, Brandon Drake of the University of new Mexico (USA) showed that at that time the Mediterranean was cold, and it caused the reduction of evaporation and, consequently, precipitation.

Approximately at the same time, collapsed Empire and the Hittites, and the New Kingdom in Egypt, which went down in history as the collapse of civilizations bronze age. And simultaneously with the collapse of the Maya Chinese Tang dynasty began to rapidly losing control over the country.

The question, of course, complex, and it is impossible to put all the responsibility on one factor. The Hittites and the Egyptians, too, came under attack from the "sea peoples". The strengthening of local princes in the era of the Tang were obvious economic reasons, although, of course, played a role and drought caused by the displacement of the monsoon. You can remember the Khmer Empire that collapsed in the XV century, when numerous problems have increased climate. Meanwhile, Gary Feinman of the Chicago Museum of natural history. Field (US) recalled that the Aztecs were also faced with drought and famine, but civilization has preserved.

A conclusion can be made: climate data at least worth considering. Typical research in 2005 was conducted by David Zhang from Hong Kong University, uniting history of China paleoclimatic data modeling. It turned out that the relatively warm periods were characterized by stability, while the fall in the average temperature for at least a few tenths of a degree increased the likelihood of rebellion and civil strife. The same result gave an analysis of the wars in Europe, Asia and North Africa from 1400 to 1900. In the XVII century, during the so-called little ice age, Europe shook the strongest political crisis that resulted in the Thirty years war and other conflicts until the fall of the monarchy in England...

Prepared according to NewScientist.
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