MONSOON OSCILLATION AND CULTURAL EVOLUTION: THE FLOURISHING AND COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATION IN SOUTHEAST IRAN DURING THE THIRD MILLENNIUM BCE

Document Type : Original Article

Author

Department of History and Archaeology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.

Abstract

During the third millennium BC, while most parts of Iran were in cultural decline, the civilizations of the southeast were experiencing a period of prosperity. It was only at the end of this millennium that the stress of the 4.2 ka BP dry event (2200-1900 BCE) was able to lead to the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations. The Akkadian dynasty, the old Egyptian kingdom, and the Indus Valley civilization were also affected by this great drought. The climatic event was probably due to a decrease in solar energy and, as a result, the cooling of the North Atlantic waters and a drop of westerlies and monsoon-related rainfalls. The climate of southeast Iran, which is mainly dominated by monsoons, had been absorbing relatively good humidity for most of the third millennium BCE, but with the occurrence of the 4.2 ka BP event, witnessed a significant drop in rainfall, which led to the gradual decline of civilization in this region. Furthermore, the beginning of the cultural decline of this region from around 2200 BCE could be due to the severe economic recession and the instability of the political system of Mesopotamia due to the pressures of drought, famine, migration, and war that affected the economic system throughout the region. Since then, luxury goods consumers have likely lost their purchasing power due to economic weakness. Besides, the occurrence of severe droughts at the peak of the Mesopotamian population growth no longer allowed the country to export grain. Therefore, the regular customers of Kerman region products decreased sharply, and as a result, these workshops went bankrupt. This article, while reconstructing the climate of southeast Iran in the third millennium BCE based on paleoclimate research of Iran and neighboring regions, tries to explain the direct and indirect effects of climate on the cultural evolution of human societies and the history of ancient civilizations of the Middle East. It seems that unbalanced population growth and socio-economic complexity of societies have been the main reasons for the inability of civilizations of the third millennium BCE to adapt to climate change.

Keywords


چکیده: در هزارة سوم ق.م درحالی‌که اغلب مناطق ایران دچار افول فرهنگی شده بودند، اما تمدن‌های جنوب شرق دورة شکوفایی خود را می‌گذراندند. تنها در اواخر این هزاره بود که تنش حاصل از رویداد خشک ۲/۴ هزارسال‌پیش (۲۲۰۰ – ۱۹۰۰ ق.م) توانست طومار حیات این تمدن‌های باستانی را درهم بپیچد. شاهنشاهی قدیم مصر و سلسلة بین‌النهرینی اکد نیز متأثر از این خشک‌سالی عظیم شدند. رویداد اقلیمی مذکور احتمالاً به دلیل کاهش انرژی خورشیدی و در نتیجه، سرمایش آب‌های اطلس شمالی و تضعیف بارش‌های ناشی از بادهای غربی و موسمی‌ها رخ داده است. منطقة جنوب شرقی ایران که از لحاظ آب‌وهوایی متأثر از موسمی‌ها است، بر اساس پژوهش‌های دیرین‌موسمی، در طی هزارة سوم ق.م رطوبت مطلوبی را جذب می‌کرده است، ولی در حدود ۲۰۰۰ ق.م با دومین اوج رویداد ۲/۴ هزارسال‌پیش سیستم موسمی به طور قابل ملاحظه‌ای ضعیف شده است. آغاز افول تدریجی فرهنگی این منطقه از حدود ۲۲۰۰ ق.م می‌تواند بیشتر به دلیل رکود شدید اقتصادی و تزلزل نظام سیاسی بین‌النهرین در اثر فشار حاصل از خشکسالی، قحطی، مهاجرت و جنگ با گوتی‌ها در اولین اوج رویداد مذکور باشد که بازار‌های جنوب شرقی ایران را نیز به شدت تحت تأثیر قرار داد. از این زمان، متقاضیان کالاهای ارزشمند مانند ظروف و اشیای سنگ صابونی (سری قدیم) احتمالاً به دلیل ضعف اقتصادی توان خرید خود را از دست دادند و همچنین، وقوع خشکسالی شدید در بین‌النهرین که در زمان اوج افزایش جمعیت رخ داد، اجازة صادرات غله را به این کشور نمی‌داد. بنابراین، کارگاه‌های صنعتی منطقة جنوب شرقی ایران که اغلب تبادلات اقتصادیشان با غلات و دیگر مواد خوراکی بین‌النهرینی بود، احتمالاً در مدت کوتاهی دچار ورشکستگی شدند. این مقاله با هدف بازسازی اقلیم جنوب شرقی ایران در هزارة سوم ق.م بر اساس پژوهش‌های دیرین‌اقلیم و دیرین‌موسمی ایران و مناطق همجوار، سعی دارد تأثیر مستقیم و غیر مستقیم آب‌وهوا را در دگرگشت فرهنگی جوامع انسانی و سرگذشت تمدن‌های باستانی منطقة مزبور روشن نماید. به نظر می‌رسد، افزایش شدید جمعیت، پیچیدگی اجتماعی و درهم‌تنیدگی اقتصادی جوامع از دلایل اصلی ناتوانی تمدن‌های به ظاهر نیرومند هزارة سوم ق.م در سازگاری با تغییر اقلیم بوده است.

کلمات کلیدی: دیرین‌اقلیم، دیرین موسمی، رویداد خشک ۲/۴ هزارسال‌پیش، هزارة سوم ق.م، جنوب شرقی ایران.

Ascalone, E. (2015). Archeologia dell’Iran Antico: Interazioni, integrazioni e discontinuità nell’Iran del III millennio a.C., Translated by Seyyed Sajjadi, S.M., Tehran: SAMT (in Persian).
Bar-Matthews, M. and Ayalon, A. (2011). Mid-Holocene climate variations revealed by high-resolution speleothem records from Soreq Cave, Israel and their correlation with cultural changes. The Holocene, 21(1), 163-171.
Berger, J.F., Lespez, L., Kuzucuoğlu, C., Glais, A., Hourani, F., Barra, A. and Guilaine, J. (2016). Interactions between climate change and human activities during the early to mid-Holocene in the eastern Mediterranean basins. Climate of the Past, 12(9), 1847-1877.
Bernhardt, C.E., Horton, B.P. and Stanley, J.D. (2012). Nile Delta vegetation response to Holocene climate variability. Geology, 40(7), 615-618.
Bini, M., Zanchetta, G., Perşoiu, A., Cartier, R., Català, A., Cacho, I., Dean, J.R., Di Rita, F., Drysdale, R.N., Finnè, M. and Brisset, E. (2019). The 4.2 ka BP Event in the Mediterranean region: an overview. Climate of the Past, 15(2), 555-577.
Bond, G., Kromer, B., Beer, J., Muscheler, R., Evans, M.N., Showers, W., Hoffmann, S., Lotti-Bond, R., Hajdas, I. and Bonani, G. (2001). Persistent solar influence on North Atlantic climate during the Holocene. science, 294(5549), 2130-2136.
Bond, G., Showers, W., Cheseby, M., Lotti, R., Almasi, P., DeMenocal, P., Priore, P., Cullen, H., Hajdas, I. and Bonani, G. (1997). A pervasive millennial-scale cycle in North Atlantic Holocene and glacial climates. science, 278(5341), 1257-1266.
Breasted, J. H. (1908). A history of the ancient Egyptians. Smith, Elder and Company.
Carolin, S.A., Walker, R.T., Day, C.C., Ersek, V., Sloan, R.A., Dee, M.W., Talebian, M. and Henderson, G.M. (2019). Precise timing of abrupt increase in dust activity in the Middle East coincident with 4.2 ka social change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(1), 67-72.
Claussen, M., Kubatzki, C., Brovkin, V., Ganopolski, A., Hoelzmann, P. and Pachur, H. J. (1999). Simulation of an abrupt change in Saharan vegetation in the mid‐Holocene. Geophysical research letters, 26(14), 2037-2040.
Cullen, H.M., Kaplan, A., Arkin, P.A. and Demenocal, P.B. (2002). Impact of the North Atlantic Oscillation on Middle Eastern climate and streamflow. Climatic Change, 55(3), 315-338.
Cullen, H. M., Demenocal, P. B., Hemming, S., Hemming, G., Brown, F. H., Guilderson, T. and Sirocko, F. (2000). Climate change and the collapse of the Akkadian empire: Evidence from the deep sea. Geology, 28(4), 379-382.
deMiroschedji, P.R. (1793). Vases et objets en stéatite susiens du Musée du Louvre. Association paleorient.
Dixit, Y., Hodell, D.A. and Petrie, C.A. (2014). Abrupt weakening of the summer monsoon in northwest India~ 4100 yr ago. Geology, 42(4), 339-342.
Djamali, M., Akhani, H., Andrieu-Ponel, V., Braconnot, P., Brewer, S., de Beaulieu, J.L., Fleitmann, D., Fleury, J., Gasse, F., Guibal, F. and Stevens, L. (2010). Indian Summer Monsoon variations could have affected the Early-Holocene woodland expansion in the Near East. The Holocene, 20(5), 813-820.
Eastwood, W.J., Leng, M.J., Roberts, N. and Davis, B. (2007). Holocene climate change in the eastern Mediterranean region: a comparison of stable isotope and pollen data from Lake Gölhisar, southwest Turkey. Journal of Quaternary Science: Published for the Quaternary Research Association, 22(4), 327-341.
Fleitmann, D., Burns, S.J., Mangini, A., Mudelsee, M., Kramers, J., Villa, I., Neff, U., Al-Subbary, A.A., Buettner, A., Hippler, D. and Matter, A. (2007). Holocene ITCZ and Indian monsoon dynamics recorded in stalagmites from Oman and Yemen (Socotra). Quaternary Science Reviews, 26(1-2), 170-188.
Gardiner, A.H. (1961). Egypt of the Pharaohs: An Introduction. Oxford University Press on Demand.
Giesche, A., Staubwasser, M., Petrie, C. A., & Hodell, D. A. (2019). Indian winter and summer monsoon strength over the 4.2 ka BP event in foraminifer isotope records from the Indus River delta in the Arabian Sea. Climate of the Past, 15(1), 73-90.
Green, A.S. and Petrie, C.A. (2018). Landscapes of urbanization and de-urbanization: A large-scale approach to investigating the Indus civilization’s settlement distributions in Northwest India. Journal of Field Archaeology, 43(4), 284-299.
Gupta, A.K., Anderson, D.M. and Overpeck, J.T. (2003). Abrupt changes in the Asian southwest monsoon during the Holocene and their links to the North Atlantic Ocean. Nature, 421(6921), 354-357.
Gurjazkaite, K., Routh, J., Djamali, M., Vaezi, A., Poher, Y., Beni, A. N., Tavakoli, V. and Kylin, H. (2018). Vegetation history and human-environment interactions through the late Holocene in Konar Sandal, SE Iran. Quaternary Science Reviews, 194, 143-155.
Hakemi, A. (2006). Report of eight seasons of survey and excavation at Shahdad (Lut Plain), Mousavi M. (ed.), Tehran: Cultural Heritage Research Institute.
Hamdan, M.A., Hassan, F.A., Flower, R.J. and Ebrahim, E. (2016). Climate and collapse of the Egyptian Old Kingdom: a geoarchaeological approach. In Archaeology and Environment. Understanding the Past to Design the Future, a Multidisciplinary Approach. Proceedings of the International Workshop “Italian Days in Aswan”, 15th-18th November 2013. Rome: Archaeological Heritage and Multidisciplinary Egyptological Studies, pp. 89-100.
Hamzeh, M., Mahmudy Gharaie, M., Alizadeh Lahijani, H., Moussavi Harami, R. and Djamali, M. (2017). Aeolian sediments deposited in Lake Hamoun; the proxy of frequency and severity of dust storms in Sistan since the late glacial. Journal of Stratigraphy and Sedimentology Researches, 33(1), 1-24 (in Persian).
Hassan, F.A. (1997). Nile floods and political disorder in early Egypt. In: H.N. Dalfes, G. Kukla and H. Weiss, (Eds.), Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse, NATO ASI Series, vol. I 49. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 711–723.
Hessari, M. (2013). The Formation and development of Proto-Writing in Iran (from Pre-Writing to Proto-Elamite). Tehran: SAMT (in Persian).
Kaboli, M.A. (2015). New excavations at Shahdad. Second appendix in: AScalone, E., Archeologia dell’Iran Antico: Interazioni, integrazioni e discontinuità nell’Iran del III millennio a.C., Translated by S.M. Seyyed Sajjadi. Tehran: SAMT, pp. 284-308 (in Persian).
Kohl, P.L. (1974). Seeds of Upheaval: The Production of Chlorite at Tepe Yahya and an Analysis of Commodity Production and Trade in Southwest Asia in the Mid-Third Millennium. PhD diss. Unpublished: Harvard University.
Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C. and Potts D.T. (2001). Excavations at Tepe Yahya, iran, 1967-1975: The Third Millennium. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Madjidzadeh, Y. (2003). Jiroft, The Earliest Oriental Civilization, Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Tehran: Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Madjidzadeh, Y. and Pittman, H. (2008). Excavations at Konar Sandal in the region of Jiroft in the Halil Basin: first preliminary report (2002–2008). Iran, 46(1), 69-103.
Mayewski, P.A., Rohling, E.E., Stager, J.C., Karlén, W., Maasch, K.A., Meeker, L.D., Meyerson, E.A., Gasse, F., van Kreveld, S., Holmgren, K. and Steig, E.J. (2004). Holocene climate variability. Quaternary research, 62(3), 243-255.
Petrie, C.A., Bates, J., Higham, T. and Singh, R.N. (2016). Feeding ancient cities in South Asia: dating the adoption of rice, millet and tropical pulses in the Indus civilisation. Antiquity, 90(354), 1489-1504.
Possehl, G.L. (1997a). Climate and the eclipse of the ancient cities of the Indus. In: Dalfes, H.N., Kukla, G., and H. Weiss (Eds.), Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse, NATO ASI Series, vol. I 49. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 193-243.
Possehl, G.L. (1997b). The transformation of the Indus civilization. Journal of World Prehistory, 11(4), 425-472.
Railsback, L.B., Liang, F., Brook, G.A., Voarintsoa, N.R.G., Sletten, H.R., Marais, E., Hardt, B., Cheng, H. and Edwards, R.L. (2018). The timing, two-pulsed nature, and variable climatic expression of the 4.2 ka event: A review and new high-resolution stalagmite data from Namibia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 186, 78-90.
Ristvet. L. and Weiss, H. (2005). The Hâbûr Region in the Late Third and Early Second Millennium B.C., In: W. Orthmann, (Ed.), The History and Archaeology of Syria. Vol. 1. Saarbrucken: Saarbrucken Verlag.
Roberts, N., Eastwood, W. J., Kuzucuoğlu, C., Fiorentino, G. and Caracuta, V. (2011). Climatic, vegetation and cultural change in the eastern Mediterranean during the mid-Holocene environmental transition. The Holocene, 21(1), 147-162.
Schmidt, A., Quigley, M., Fattahi, M., Azizi, G., Maghsoudi, M. and Fazeli, H. (2011). Holocene settlement shifts and palaeoenvironments on the Central Iranian Plateau: investigating linked systems. The Holocene, 21(4), 583-595.
Seyyed Sajjadi, S. M. (2002). Shahr-e Sokhteh, 1997-2001, Tehran: Research Institute of the Cultural Heritage Organization (in Persian).
Seyyed Sajjadi, S. M. (2015). Excavation at Shahr-e Sokhteh. First appendix in: AScalone, E., Archeologia dell’Iran Antico: Interazioni, integrazioni e discontinuità nell’Iran del III millennio a.C., Translated by S.M. Seyyed Sajjadi. Tehran: SAMT, pp. 223-283 (in Persian).
Shaikh Baikloo Islam, B. (2015). The difference between the use of soapstone vessels and objects in Iran and Mesopotamia in the third millennium BC. The second national conference of Iranian archaeology, University of Birjand, pp.1-21 (in Persian).
Shaikh Baikloo Islam, B., Chaychi Amirkhiz, A. and Niknami, K. (2020b). Late Holocene climatic events, the main factor of the cultural decline in North Central Iran during the Bronze Age. Documenta Praehistorica, 47, 446-460.
Shaikh Baikloo Islam, B., Chaychi Amirkhiz, A. and Valipour, H. (2016). On the Possible Correlation between the Collapse of Sialk IV and Climatological Events during the Middle–Late Holocene. Iranian Journal of Archaeological Studies, 6(1), 45-57.
Shaikh Baikloo Islam, B., Chaychi Amirkhiz, A., Valipour, H. and Safaierad, R. (2020a). Study on the Effects of the Mid-Holocene Climatic Changes on Sialk III Societies in North Central Iran Based on Environmental Sedimentology of Mafin Abad, Islamshahr. Journal of Archaeological Studies, 12(3), 143-166 (in Persian).
Sharifi, A., Pourmand, A., Canuel, E.A., Ferer-Tyler, E., Peterson, L.C., Aichner, B., Feakins, S.J., Daryaee, T., Djamali, M., Beni, A.N. and Lahijani, H.A. (2015). Abrupt climate variability since the last deglaciation based on a high-resolution, multi-proxy peat record from NW Iran: The hand that rocked the Cradle of Civilization?. Quaternary Science Reviews, 123, 215-230.
Staubwasser, M., Sirocko, F., Grootes, P. M. and Segl, M. (2003). Climate change at the 4.2 ka BP termination of the Indus valley civilization and Holocene South Asian monsoon variability. Geophysical Research Letters, 30(8), 1-7.
Staubwasser, M. and Weiss, H. (2006). Holocene climate and cultural evolution in late prehistoric–early historic West Asia. Quaternary Research, 66(3), 372-387.
Vaezi, A., Ghazban, F., Tavakoli, V., Routh, J., Beni, A.N., Bianchi, T.S., Curtis, J.H. and Kylin, H. (2019). A Late Pleistocene-Holocene multi-proxy record of climate variability in the Jazmurian playa, southeastern Iran. Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, 514, 754-767.
Verheyden, S., Nader, F.H., Cheng, H.J., Edwards, L.R. and Swennen, R. (2008). Paleoclimate reconstruction in the Levant region from the geochemistry of a Holocene stalagmite from the Jeita cave, Lebanon. Quaternary Research, 70(3), 368-381.
Vidale, M., (2021). A Warehouse in 3rd Millennium BC Sistan and Its Accounting Technology, in: Seminar Early Urbanization in Iran, Lecture minute 11:12 onwards. [Online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDAJHf1w3H4 [Accessed March 15th,2021].
Vidale, M., Fazeli Nashli, H. and Helwing B. (2019). Radiocarbon dates and absolute chronology. In: Kavosh, H.A., Vidale, M. and H. Fazeli Nashli, (Eds.), Tappeh Graziani, Sistan, Iran: stratigraphy, formation processes and chronology of a suburban site of Shahr-i Sokhta. Antilia, pp. 151-154.
Wasylikowa, K., Witkowski, A., Walanus, A., Hutorowicz, A., Alexandrowicz, S.W. and Langer, J.J. (2006). Palaeolimnology of Lake Zeribar, Iran, and its climatic implications. Quaternary Research, 66(3), 477-493.
Weiss, H. (1997). Late third millennium abrupt climate change and social collapse in West Asia and Egypt. In: Dalfes, H.N., Kukla, G. and H. Weiss, (Eds.), Third Millennium BC Climate Change and Old World Collapse, NATO ASI Series, vol. I 49. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, pp. 711–723.
Weiss, H. (2015). Megadrought, collapse, and resilience in late 3rd millennium BC Mesopotamia. In: Arz, H.W., Jung, R., Meller, H. and R. Risch, (Eds.), 2200 BC-A climatic breakdown as a cause for the collapse of the old world?. Tagungen des Landesmuseums für Vorgeschichte Halle, pp. 35-52.
Weiss, H. (Ed.). (2017). Megadrought and collapse: from early agriculture to Angkor. Oxford University Press.
Weiss, H. and Bradley, R.S. (2001). What drives societal collapse? Science, 291(5504), 609-610.
Weiss, H., Courty, M.A., Wetterstrom, W., Guichard, F., Senior, L., Meadow, R. and Curnow, A. (1993). The genesis and collapse of third millennium north Mesopotamian civilization. Science, 261(5124), 995-1004.
Welc, F. and Marks, L. (2014). Climate change at the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt around 4200 BP: new geoarchaeological evidence. Quaternary International, 324, 124-133.
 
 
  • Receive Date: 23 August 2021
  • Revise Date: 25 October 2021
  • Accept Date: 10 November 2021
  • Publish Date: 20 December 2021