How did climate change influence the rise of ancient Egypt
Climate change today is seen as something that can bring down our societies and a potential threat to cities and civilization. While that has some truth to it, the fact is climate change is also likely a trigger for how our modern societies arose. In different parts of the world, major complex societies may have been influenced by climatic and various social factors interacting in a complex web of influences. This could have been the case for ancient Egypt as well.
Climate in Egypt Before the Pharaohs
During the early phases of agricultural development in the ancient Near East, Egypt was a society of small-scale hunter gatherers living not only in the Nile valley but also what are today the desert regions of North Africa and the deserts to the east and west of the Nile. At around 8000 BC, the climate had shifted from very dry conditions to much wetter conditions due to the global retreat of the great ice sheets and glaciers. The Sahara Desert, among the driest regions in the world today, was a savannah like environment more similar to the Serengeti than the harsh desert of today. People were able to roam in this region, living on hunting of big game such as elephants and wildebeests. Lakes and open woodlands were also found. The Nile certainly exists but was not only a more lush region and swampy as it was also influenced by summer monsoon rains that are more northerly than they are today. This also made the Mediterranean have more water flow into it, influencing rainfall conditions in Asia. In general, the relatively wet period was a conducive for hunting and gathering in north Africa and Egypt. Farming would have existed mostly in the Middle East, but it would not have been a major economic focus in Egypt between 8000-5000 BC. Domestic animals do appear more at around 6000 BC, including cattle, suggesting herders were also beginning to develop.