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19 February 2011
Climate change in Jordan, circa 2,200 BCE

Approximately 4,200 years ago a climate change phenomenon is believed to have triggered major upheavals in the governance of several Middle Eastern states. At that time paleoclimatic data has confirmed that there was a severe drought, with precipitation levels falling by up to 30%. There is speculation on the cause of the change but there is no data to back up the theories. Suffice it to say that the cultural impact was imense, with several civilisations suffering social upheaval, including the collapse of the central government in Egypt (nothing changes but change itself!), the end of the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia and the abandonment of the city of Khirbet ez-Zeiraquon in northern Jordan.
     But in the midst of this upheaval the city state of Tall el-Hammam, in Jordan, survived. The city is believed to date back over 6,000 years and was heavily fortified. The population led a modest life and worked the land in the immediate vicinity of the city walls. Outside this area were vast dolmen fields (over 1,000 monuments), with only a few examples still remaining. The team investigating the site believe them to be memorial monuments. The team in question is lead by Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University (New Mexico, USA) together with a team from Jordan's Department of Antiquities lead by Khalil Hamdan.
     So what is the secret of Tall el-Hammam's survival? Well it would appear to be a case of smart water management. The city was located close to the River Jordan, which would never have dried out completely, and was set in the fork of two perennial rivers. Couple this with a number of groundwater springs and the temperate climate (no extremes of hot or cold) and the occupants would have been able to grow several crops a year. Perhaps there are lessons to be learnt from our ancestors?
     
Edited from Unreported Heritage News (14 February 2011)

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