Hydrological Changes in Late Antiquity: Spatio-Temporal Characteristics and Socio-Economic Impacts in the Eastern Mediterranean


Until now, proxy records have been the primary tool for quantitative reconstructions of the physical world of the ancient and late antique Mediterranean. This chapter demonstrates the combined use of proxy datasets and the hitherto underutilized potential of earth system models in the scientific and historical study of past environmental variations and impacts on human societies. Results from model simulations are able to explain hydroclimatic anomalies observed in the proxy records and provide links to relevant mechanisms. The Late Roman Dry Period and the Late Roman Wet Period of the mid-fourth to early eighth centuries AD are each associated with the increase in the frequency of subsistence crises and with the accelerated infrastructural adaptations of communities and agricultural expansion, respectively. The chapter concludes with an examination of the historical and climatic contexts behind one such anomaly, a subsistence crisis in Cappadocia in the late 300s AD.
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