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Global Warming Responsible for Rise of Pharaonic Empire?

Over seven millennia ago, the lush, savannah-like conditions of the Egyptian Sahara began changing, drying out, forcing the migration of peoples to the Sudanese Sahara. Yet in less than two millennia, the Sudanese Sahara, too, had grown dry, forcing the people to migrate into the Nile Valley for arable land and water, possibly precipitating the unification of its inhabitants into the first Egyptian Dynasty. That's the hypothesis according to the July 21st issue of Science magazine (

Anthropologists and historians have always suspected that overgrazing caused by animal husbandry contributed to the desertification of the Sahara and the subsequent migration of peoples into the Nile Valley (, but now further research seems to show that this regional desiccation was in fact a result of a cycle of global warming, cooling and warming again that affected the migration of human populations.

In fact, without this pressure from various populations moving into the already inhabited Nile Valley, it is arguable that the Pharaonic Empire as we know it today may have never existed, at least not in the way that history now reads. Throughout the dozens of millennia of human migration, the confluence of two or more groups of culturally diverse people have led to major changes within all the involved cultures as each vies for dominance (or mere survival) over the other. One needs only look to the colonization of the New World for bounteous examples. Sometimes, an amalgamation or assimilation of these cultures leads to a new group culturally distinct from both its predecessors and its neighbors. This is what may have happened in the merging of cultures in Predynastic Egypt, and all because of global warming.

What the future holds for today's cultures millennia from now cannot be known, yet one thing that we can predict with utter certainty is that the environment will continue to shape the human condition regardless of the technological achievements ahead. Whether the period of interglacial warming we have experienced over the last four centuries is wholly natural or is contributed to by human activity remains to be seen. Either way, it is likely that some civilizations in the distant future will arise in part due to responses to climatic changes in our environment. Who that next great civilization will be only time will tell...

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