Sun-choking debris cast off by volcanoes more than 2,000 years ago starved headwaters feeding the Nile river and hastened the downfall of ancient Egypt’s last kingdom, researchers claim.
Eruptions in the 3rd and 1st century B.C. — including one of the biggest blasts in the past 2,500 years — coincided with crop failures, large-scale revolts and the withdrawal of Egyptian armies from the battlefield, they reported in the journal Nature Communications.
Up to now, researchers had struggled to find an explanation for these events.
“Volcanic eruptions may have had a central role in the eventual collapse of the Ptolemaic dynasty,” the journal noted in a summary.
The findings, the authors said, also highlight the risk today of climate engineering schemes that would combat global warming by injecting billions of tiny particles into the stratosphere — just like a volcano — to block some of the sun’s rays.
Even if so-called solar radiation management lowers the planet’s temperature a notch or two, it could inadvertently cause major disruptions in rainfall patterns.
“Ptolemaic vulnerability to volcanic eruptions offers a caution for all monsoon-dependent agriculture regions,” which today include 70 percent of the world’s population, the authors wrote.
The Ptolemaic empire began in 305 B.C., shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, and ended in 30 B.C. with the suicide of Cleopatra. After that, the region became a Roman province.
The kingdom mostly thrived, nourished by the silt-rich Nile overflowing its banks in summer across a far-flung network of grain fields. An ingenious system of channels and dams stored water after the river receded in September.
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SOURCE: Fox News