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Ancient City Mysteriously Survived Mideast Civilization Collapse

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Trinea
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« on: July 30, 2011, 02:49:46 am »

 Casana and Boston University archaeologist Rudolph Dornemann discovered mud-brick homes beyond the city's fortification walls, suggesting the area was thriving. [See images of the ancient city]

"It seems like there is an intensively occupied core and fortified area, and more dispersed settlement surrounding it," said Casana. One of the team members, Amy Karoll, presented the research at the 76th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in April.

Digging up history

Tell Qarqur was occupied for about 10,000 years, between 8,500 BC and AD 1350 While excavations have taken place off and on for nearly three decades now, only a small portion of the city has been excavated so far. The long history of the site makes digging down to the 4,200-year-old remains difficult. To compensate, the team has used Ground Penetrating Radar to help map structures beneath the surface.

One of the most interesting excavated finds is a small temple or shrine made out of stone that also dates back 4,200 years. "It's a small stone building with a whole series of plastered basins inside the building that were used probably in some kind of libation ritual," said Casana.

The team also found large standing stones, bones from baby sheep, cult stands used for incense and decorative figurines, some of which are now on display in a local museum.

Global climate change

Environmental data gathered from numerous sources, including ocean sediment cores and plant remains, suggests that there was a climate event that rocked the Middle East and much of the planet 4,200 years ago. [10 Surprising Results of Climate Change]

 "At 4,200 years ago, there was an abrupt climate change, and abrupt drying, and abrupt deflection of the Mediterranean westerly winds that transport humid air into the eastern Mediterranean region," Harvey Weiss of Yale University told LiveScience.

Weiss has been researching the phenomenon, working with other scholars to figure out how broad an event this was and what its effects were.

 "That deflection of those winds reduced the annual precipitation across western Asia for about 300 years," he said, with rainfall being reduced somewhere between 30 and 50 percent. This meant that cities in the Middle East that depended on rain-fed crops had a difficult time surviving.

The intense drought extended nearly globally, Weiss noted.
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