Asp – or ash? Climate historians link Cleopatra's demise to volcanic eruptionBreaking News
The fall of Cleopatra’s Egypt to Augustus, the first Roman emperor, is usually told as a melodramatic power struggle between elites on the world stage.
Cleopatra famously forged a doomed political alliance with the Roman general Mark Antony, who was also her lover. But when their combined forces were defeated at the battle of Actium, the pair killed themselves and Egypt became a province of the newly formed Roman empire.
However, a new analysis suggests the seeds of Cleopatra’s defeat may have been sown a decade earlier by environmental forces beyond her control. It links a massive volcanic eruption – which probably happened somewhere in the Tropics, although the team is not sure – with severe disruption to the seasonal flooding of the Nile, and devastating consequences for Egyptian agriculture.
The study, based on evidence from ice-core records of eruption dates, the Islamic Nilometer (an ancient history of Nile water levels) and Ancient Egyptian documentation of social unrest, suggests that a giant volcanic eruption in 44BC may have suppressed rainfall, leading to famines, plague and social unrest. Ultimately, the authors argue, this may have weakened Cleopatra’s hold on power a decade before her defeat in 30BC, changing the course of world history.
comments powered by Disqus
- 43% of Americans still think the Iraq War was a good idea
- Only One Man Was Found Guilty for His Role in the My Lai Massacre
- Indian Children’s Book Lists Hitler as Leader ‘Who Will Inspire You’
- Who Owns the Vikings?
- Documents show that U.S. officials led Russian President Boris Yeltsin to believe in 1993 that NATO wasn't expanding
- Facebook’s Historian: Professor Heather Cox Richardson
- Historians at the Rochester Institute of Technology are bolstering Wikipedia’s archive of entries on women’s history
- "Multiple Steves and Pauls": A History Panel Sets Off a Diversity Firestorm
- University of Washington Dean defends the liberal arts degree on economic grounds
- David S. Wyman, author of "The Abandonment of the Jews," has died at age 89