In ancient times, Egypt was ruled by a great number dynasties. The final Egyptian Empire was controlled by the Ptolemy family. With the death of Cleopatra, the last true monarch of Ancient Egypt, Roman conquest was able to take hold. For thousands of years, historians have blamed the fall of Ancient Egypt on the Romans. However, new scientific research suggests that climate change may have been to blame for Egypt's demise.

The Nile River

Climate historian Francis Ludlow at Trinity College in Dublin recently published a paper in Nature Communications that points to a volcanic eruption as the main cause for the downfall of the last Egyptian Empire.

The Kingdom of Egypt was directly dependent on the Nile River for prosperity and life. The Nile River was fueled by rainfall during the monsoon season in the highlands of Ethiopia. Every summer, the river would flood which allowed the region to prosper and thrive. All of Egypt's agriculture relied on the Nile River to flourish.

Ancient records from Egypt show that the Nile River was not flooding properly. Documented measurements from the Nilometer, an annual hydrological gauge, showed that the river was almost completely dried up. As a result, the crops in the region were barren. What could have caused a once flourishing river to dry up so drastically?

Volcanic Eruptions

Scientists have managed to gather climate data that reflects the effects of volcanic ash on rainfall patterns.

When a volcano erupts, the ash from the inferno can cause significant changes in the environment. Volcanic ash can interrupt air currents, alter cloud formation, and even move precipitation locations.

After monitoring the effects of five modern-day volcanic eruptions in Northeast Africa, scientists found that the result was suppressed rainfall from Sahel to Ethiopia.

Researchers then began to question whether or not volcanic eruptions had occurred near Egypt around the time of its downfall.

Ice core samples from Antarctica and Greenland showed that multiple volcanic eruptions were happening in many places around the world at that time. However, researchers have not yet been able to identify which volcanoes were erupting.

However, climatologists speculate that the reason behind Egypt's dry spell was due to volcanic ash which caused significant climate change in the region.

Another version of history

If the Nile River had been full and the country was well fed, the Ptolemaic military might not have lost so many territorial battles. Starvation and civil unrest caused the Egyptian Empire to shift its focus from the battlefield to the people. With further research to still be done, scientists may be able to conclude that climate change was the main culprit in the downfall of Ancient Egypt.