The American West is parched right now by extreme and persistent drought. That has a lot of people wondering what will happen if the rains don’t come and the water dries up. But if history has anything to teach us about megadroughts, it’s that they can pose a very serious threat to civilization.
Throughout human history, great societies have suffered the withering effects of extreme drought. Archaeologists, examining the historical record, say that drought played a major part in the collapse of the Maya, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia and others. And then there was the breakdown of the Ancestral Puebloans, who, hundreds of years ago, fled the Four Corners region and never returned. This Friday at noon we’re kicking off our three-part series about droughts by talking about what happened to these cultures, and what we can learn from the worst outcomes of some of the worst droughts in human history.
- Jim Enote, a Zuni tribal member and CEO of the Colorado Plateau Foundation. He also serves as the chair of the board of the Grand Canyon Trust and lives in Zuni, New Mexico.
- Harvey Weiss is a professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at Yale University and editor of the book Megadroughts and Collapse: From Early Agriculture to Angkor.
- Craig Childs is the author of numerous books including House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest. His latest is Craig Childs book is called Virga and Bone: Essays from Dry Places. [Bookshop|Audible|Indiebound|Amazon]