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Old 08-19-2012, 02:34 AM   #162
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Default Scientists: Climate change forced Egyptians to stop building pyramids

Ancient pollen and charcoal preserved in deeply buried sediments in Egypt’s Nile Delta document the region’s ancient droughts and fires, including a huge drought 4,200 years ago associated with the demise of Egypt’s Old Kingdom, the era known as the pyramid-building time.

A newly released study finds that drought brought on by climate change may have ended the era of pyramid building in Egypt.

The study, conducted by USGS and University of Pennsylvania, finds that a series of extreme droughts and Scientists examined 7,000-year-old ancient pollen and charcoal samples from the Nile to piece together the time – and found evidence of a ‘mega drought’ in the the area. The study notes that wetland pollen decreased during droughts, while charcoal use increased. Researchers says that the presence of charcoal was considered to be highest some 5,000 to 5,500 years ago.

“Humans have a long history of having to deal with climate change,” said Christopher Bernhardt, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey. “Along with other research, this study geologically reveals that the evolution of societies is sometimes tied to climate variability at all scales – whether decadal or millennial.”

The team of researchers noted that the study reveals that humans have struggled to cope with the effects of drought. The team of geologists said fossilized material from the region provided data that shows Egyptians struggling to adjust to the growing challenge of climate change. The researchers studied pollen and charcoal preserved in a Nile Delta sediment core that dates back 7,000 years, some of the oldest samples recovered.

“Even the mighty builders of the ancient pyramids more than 4,000 years ago fell victim when they were unable to respond to a changing climate,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “This study illustrates that water availability was the climate-change Achilles Heel then for Egypt, as it may well be now, for a planet topping seven billion thirsty people.”

The study comes as climate change remains a major issue for several governments around the world. International policy makers have struggled to address the issue in recent years, however, various international summits have failed to build a consensus over the best possible path towards lowering emissions of greenhouse gases.

These events are also recorded in human history – the first one started some 5,000 years ago when the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt occurred and the Uruk Kingdom in modern Iraq collapsed. The second event, some 3,000 years ago, took place in the eastern Mediterranean and is associated with the fall of the Ugarit Kingdom and famines in the Babylonian and Syrian Kingdoms, according to scientists.

Mr. Bernhardt along with Benjamin Horton, an associate professor in Penn’s Department of Earth and Environmental Science, conducted the study. Jean-Daniel Stanley at the Smithsonian Institution also participated in the study, published in July’s edition of Geology.

Support for the work came from the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Smithsonian Institution.

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