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Sea-Floor Dust Shows Drought Felled Akkadian Empire

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Science  16 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5349, pp. 325-326
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5349.325

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SAN FRANCISCO-- In 1993, a Yale archaeologist proposed that the Akkadian empire--which in 2300 B.C. was the first to subsume independent societies into a single state, only to splinter a century later--was brought low by a wide-ranging, centuries-long drought (Science, 20 August 1993, p. 985). At the annual fall meeting last month of the American Geophysical Union here, new evidence for this theory was presented from a sediment core retrieved from the bottom of the Gulf of Oman, 1800 kilometers from the heart of the Akkadian empire, indicating that a 300-year-long dry spell began just as the Akkadians' northern stronghold of Tell Leilan was being abandoned. The new results illustrate that climate change is emerging as a new and powerful causal agent in the evolution of civilization.