Climate Context

(October 29, 2023) This map shows just how dry Europe and the Middle-East were. From:

The Warming After the Glacial Maximum Turned the Sahara and Arabian Deserts Green

(October 29, 2023) The Earth's climate is in a constant state of change based on its position relative to the sun. The northern hemisphere began to warm due to this around 13000 BCE. For a brief time, the Sahara and Arabian deserts reverted back to a savannah type grassland. This warming both allowed the development of a settled agriculture and opened up new lands for the Neolithic farmers to settle. This video  is an excellent explanation of the climate change by Atlas Pro.

Chart compiled by Robert Rohde from reports by Fleming et al. 1998, Fleming 2000, and Milne et al. 2005. These papers collected data from various reports and adjusted them for subsequent vertical geologic motions, primarily those associated with post-glacial continental and hydroisostatic rebound. Online at:

Post Glacial Maximum Sea Level Rise

(October 29, 2023) The glaciers started melting around 13,000 BCE and continued to do so until 5,000 BCE. This meant more rivers with greater flows and greater amounts of spring flooding. Farming technology developed at the beginning of this melt as the dry ice age climate started to give way to a much wetter climate. The Akkadian speaking Neolithic farmers started migrating out of northern Mesopotamia around 8,500 BCE.

Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee showing the droughts
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee. In historical times it shows two major droughts with several minor ones. Minor droughts are indicated anytime the curves turn downward. 
The 50 year long Great Drought of 1180 to 1140 BCE (Iron Age 1 period) is what ended the Bronze Age and the 5-year long Elijah drought of 845-840 BCE. The yellow gives the tree pollen level while the green gives the non-tree pollen level. (Langut and Finkelsein 2013)

Major Levant Droughts Based on Pollen Data From Sea of Galilee

(April 2, 2022) Droughts separate the archaeological periods in the Levant. States weakened by local droughts were often subject to raids right after the droughts by Mesopotamian empires which were unaffected due to their irrigation. Below is the latest widely accepted chronology proposed by Amihai Mazar in 2014 shown below: 

Droughts According to Drought Chart

  1. 1180-1140 BCE - Great Drought
  2. 980 BCE
  3. 845-840 BCE - Elijah Drought
  4. 732 BCE - led to Assyrian invasion
  5. 605 BCE - led to Babylonian invasion


Langut, D. Finkelsein, I, Litt, T. (2013) Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Levant. Tel Aviv 40:149-175. Online at
Mazar, Amihai (2005) The Debate over the Chronology of the Iron Age in the Southern Levant: its History, the Current Situation and a Suggested Resolution. pp. 15-30 in: T. Levy and T. Higham (editors), The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating - Archaeology, Text and Science. London. Online at:

More Recent Levant Droughts Based on Water Level Data From Dead Sea (200 BCE, 600 CE, 800 CE)

(January 9, 2024) This figure shows Levant droughts between 1997 CE and 400 BCE as measured by the level of the Dead Sea. It shows droughts around 200 BCE, 600 CE, and 800 CE. Notice the modern era decline in water levels due to humans  taking most of the water from the Jordan river. The Dead Sea's water levels are much lower today (2024)


Michael McCormick, Ulf Büntgen, Mark A. Cane, Edward R. Cook, Kyle Harper, Peter Huybers, Thomas Litt, Sturt W. Manning, Paul Andrew Mayewski, Alexander F. M. More, Kurt Nicolussi and Willy Tegel (Autumn 2012) Climate Change during and after the Roman Empire: Reconstructing the Past from Scientific and Historical Evidence. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History Vol. 43, No. 2, pp. 169-220 (52 pages). Online at:
This tree ring sample from a slow growing drought resistant juniper tree from Anatolia shows the years 1198 to 1196 BCE were the most extreme drought years within a 50 year dry period. The Hittite Empire is postulated to have collapsed near the end of these three years with the voluntary abandonment of its capital and major cities. (Nutt, Feb 2023)

Tree Ring Data From Anatolia Provides Higher Climate Resolution (But Adds Data Noise)

The juniper trees found in the tomb were Juniperus  excelsa and Juniperus foetidissima.


Manning, S.W., Kocik, C., Lorentzen, B. et al. (2023) Severe multi-year drought coincident with Hittite collapse around 1198–1196 BCE. Nature:

Nutt, David (Feb 8, 2023) Rare drought coincided with Hittite Empire collapse. Online at:

(November 6, 2023) Severe droughts seem to occur at a rate of 3 per every 100 years yet only multi-year droughts over a wide area lead to social instability due to lack of food. Three instances of the driest 6.25% of years occurring consecutively in numerous trees (bottom red lines) from Anatolia exist. Only the Bronze Age Collapse drought covered enough territory to be history changing. This data was assembled from tree rings and isotope ratios within those wood samples. (Manning and all, 2023)  

  1. 1494–1492 BCE 
  2. 1198–1196 BCE (Bronze Age Collapse shown with gray bar)
  3. 871–869 BCE

This data set is consistently older by about 30 years from the pollen and archaeological data from the Sea of Galilee indicating a systematic error in the isotope ratios exist in this data set.

Midas Mound at Gordion, Turkey

Midas Mound at Gordion is a human-made 53-meter-tall structure located west of Ankara, Turkey. The mound contains a wooden structure believed to be a burial chamber for a relative of King Midas, possibly his father.  (Nutt, Feb 2023)

Wood Source Inside Midas Mound

Wooden structure inside Midas Mound and source of the Juniper tree ring data.  (Nutt, Feb 2023)
This shows the viewing range of a recent eclipse over northern Mesopotamia. Image from:

Solar Eclipses

A partial solar eclipse should have been viewable in the Levant on June 15 in 763 BCE. It was recorded by Assyrian observers in Nineveh (