Forever changes: Climate lessons from ancient Egypt

Record-breaking heatwaves are gripping the many regions of the USA, and unpredicted floods wreaking havoc to Germany from China. To the vanguard of public discourse, this extensional threat of climate change has once again risen.

But in humankind, this is not the first time that extreme weather has awakens as a challenge. 

Read More: Climate change and Human Rights: UNHRC passed the resolution


And according to Nadine Moeller, professor of Near Eastern languages and civilizations to the environmental stress, the case of ancient Egypt offers valuable insights.

He also says that ancient Egypt offers some cautionary tales on living and facing the changing climate. 

Climate and climate change have worried the complete humanity as a stressor. And we humans should be paying attention to it right now as we already live in a vulnerable society. 

In ancient Egypt, for agricultural production, annual summer flooding of the Nile was the used instrument for them for centuries. 

However, these water cycles vary a lot. And according to archaeological evidence, during specific periods, the weather patterns became more erratic. 

Moreover, droughts will also occur if floods don’t happen for a long time.

Human activities are not responsible for these events at all. According to scientists, these episodes are now unfolding worldwide. And all these events are due to changing climate. 

Experts’ Comments

According to Moeller, there were dryer and more erosion conditions earlier. And archaeological analysis of sediment deposits provides substantial evidence of all this. 

There were more mentions of famine in textual sources like autobiographies inscribed in tombs from this era. 

But all these historical accounts are not always reliable to trust. 

Egypt under the Ptolemaic dynasties (305-30 BCE) is the expertise area of Manning. 

Manning focuses on the ongoing climate effects of massive volcanic eruptions on annual Nile floods during the Ptolemaic Kingdom. 

Overcoming Nile floods and upsetting agricultural yields, these eruptions have shifted the patterns of the Africa monsoon. 

And all this results at the end of the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

The Drastic Downfall

The ultimate downfall of the Old Kingdom was only happened due to climate change. And during the Ptolemaic period, political instability and complex societal occurs due to environmental change.  

For the ancient Egyptians, climate stress and decline in Nile flooding cause massive misery in their life. 

But it teaches us an important lesson whenever society manages to cope up with such effects. 

During the time of famine in the Old Kingdom, towns seem to be expanded. However, many people migrated to the countryside to get the proper supplies. 


Adaptation naturally required rethinking food systems as climate change and Nile failures disrupt the agricultural fields. 

As a principal adaptive response to climate stress, Moeller and Manning are developing long-term grain storage facilities.

To distribute grain to the inhabitants, several towns build their grain reserves. 

The experience of Nile floods in the different regions of Egypt also changes their expertise towards the upcoming climate changes. That’s why knowing what’s happening in the world is essential to study ancient climatic change. 

You can quickly tell the wildfires in modern California by seeing droughts in the Old Kingdom of Egypt. In search of proper supplies, folks move around a lot. This migration can lead to magnificent changes in nature.

In often dramatic events, like temperature changes or drought, humans can quickly take action by preparing themselves for ancient climatic change.

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