Climate Contributed to the Fall of Egyptian Dynasty

The Western world considered Egypt to be one of the greatest civilization in history.  Most of its fame arose from the sense of wonderment surrounding its massive pyramids, and from its legendary people and histories.  Cleopatra was a main figure that American children learn about when they first begin to discuss Egypt.  The fall of her empire was often attributed to the Roman victory over Egypt in the Battle of Actium in 30 B.C..  Whereas this loss was previously comprehended by conditioned notions of Egyptian weakness through infighting, decadence, and incest, recent archaeological findings hinted that the environment and climate may have had a larger impact on the outcome of the battle.  Evidence from ice core data, Islamic records of the water levels in the Nile River, and “ancient Egyptian histories” written on papyrus suggested that a volcanic eruption in 44 B.C. had a massive impact on the stability of Egypt under Cleopatra’s reign.

Antony and Cleopatra — Battle of Actium, 30 B.C.

The result of the eruption was widespread vulnerability.  The intrusive eruption disrupted the flooding of the Nile River, thus impacting agriculture, trade, and social organization.  Famine ensued due to lack of fertility in local soils to produce essential crops and sustenance for consumption and trading.  Additionally, immune systems severely declined with the lack of proper nutrition or energy, which contributed to the widespread disease and famine which swept the nation.  Lastly, social unrest surrounding the irregular patterns of the river caused strained trade and social relations between groups of people and caused either conflict or the need for migration.  All of these consequences of the volcanic eruption in 44 B.C. contributed to the immense vulnerability of Egypt at the time, making Cleopatra’s reign less authoritative, and making it easier for the Roman empire to claim victory over Egypt in the Battle of Actium in 30 B.C..

A map of the Battle of Actium with Cleopatra and Antony’s respective positions labelled.

I found this finding interesting because it proved the necessity of critical thinking and revisitation of academia’s previously conceived notions and ideas surrounding political and social phenomena.  While infighting, decadence, and incest may have contributed to the instability that Egypt felt at the time, it was important to search for more context in order to reveal clues about the rise and fall of “past” civilizations and empires.  Looking at history with such a critical lens could elucidate perceptions of the future cycle of empires in the world and help to understand the meanings behind and implications of international interactions today.


Sources and Additional Readings:


Roman Aqueducts in Spain Present New Findings

Segovia, Spain proves the need for open-mindedness before, during, and after archaeological digs.  Home to one of the most well-preserved Roman aqueducts in the world, this small Spanish town is rich with history and information surrounding cross-cultural  interactions.

Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain. Presumably built 112 AD, this is the site of many archaeological artifacts, ecofacts, and features.

This aqueduct is representative of archaeological features, or manmade alterations of the landscape which cannot be moved, within locations of past human activity which allude the daily routines, processes, and values of past generations (Renfrew, 40).  Aqueducts, in particular, act as evidence of interstate trade and societal structure, both socially and geographically.  Those who lived closer to the aqueduct reaped the benefits of its presence and ended up relatively advantaged.  After the aqueduct’s construction, urban development would become executed in relation to its location.  Today, Segovia takes the active aqueduct into consideration when expanding the city and planning celebrations of its history and culture.

Segovia, Spain with the Roman aqueduct running through the city center.

The aqueduct’s existence extends further into history than previously believed.  Recently, a team of archaeologists discovered an artifact from the aqueduct’s foundations from an excavation dating back to 1998.  The discovery of an “ancient Roman coin minted between 112 and 116 AD” alluded to the existence of Roman relations within Segovia prior to the original timeline, (Martín, El País).  This finding stresses the importance of evaluating the artifacts, ecofacts, features, and palimpsests of archaeological sites in relation to one another in order to mold discoveries based on contextual clues.

Not only does this discovery point to the age of Segovia as a whole, but it is also representative of daily activities and societal structures.  The Roman coin proves that the civilization at the time had a structured trading system involving monetary tangible currency rather than, or along with, bartering.  It alludes to the affluent nature of ancient Segovia and emphasizes the valuation of efficiency and trade within the city under Roman influence.  The fact that the aqueduct is still in use today only proves that similar values surrounding trade and efficiency remain.  Therefore, misconceptions about “lost civilizations” dating back to AD prove false based on various evidence, the use of the aqueduct being the most prominent.  This emphasizes the need for constant development and open-mindedness in research in order to provide context clues about the history of the world.  Knowledge of the past will help in understanding the present and future, as “time” operates cyclically.  It is important to constantly rediscover the world within new contexts and to continue to ask critical questions.


PAÍS, EL. “Age of Segovia Aqueduct Revised after Discovery of Ancient Coin.” EL PAÍS, Síguenos En Síguenos En Twitter Síguenos En Facebook Síguenos En Twitter Síguenos En Instagram, 1 Nov. 2016, 1477997248_304960.html.

Renfrew, Colin, and Paul G. Bahn. Archaeology Essentials: theories, methods, practice. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2015.

Photo Sources:, A&E Television Networks, pictures/roman-architecture-and-engineering/roman-aqueduct-segovia-spain.

Fletcher, Taylor. “Safe Travels >>>.” Pinterest, 4 Nov. 2013, 170996117075648596/.

Further Readings:

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Segovia.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 24 Jan. 2011,

“Aqueduct of Segovia.” World Monuments Fund,