01whole.pdf (11.67 MB)
The A.R.I.D. hypothesis - a river in 'drought': environmental and cultural ramifications of Old Kingdom climate change
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 18:31 authored by John William Burn
During the latter half of the Old Kingdom, Egypt experienced a noticeable decline in the amount of water being delivered by the River Nile. This thesis contends that the way the society responded to this change can be inferred from the tombs' decorations produced during the timeframe in question. Without a regular inundation, nutrients normally lost to the river remained within it. These nutrients changed the ecological balance affecting the local environment. Since less water and less nutrients were available for the land, there was a decline in cultivation, and the development of garden and orchards ceased. Plant life within the river increased, taking advantage of the excess nutrient supply. Fish numbers and varieties increased with new fishing techniques and technologies appearing as tomb decorations. Depictions of water birds increased, presumably as a result of an increasing reliance upon fowl in the daily diet. Cattle depictions also increased as cattle were able to take advantage of the flourishing plants on the riverbanks. Finally, as the ecotone (the boundary between ecosystems) diminished, desert animals ventured closer to the river, integrating themselves with the cattle populations and becoming an increasing part of the animal procession scenes. In conclusion, contrasting to the currently accepted viewpoint of the First Intermediate Period as a time of relapse and retrogression, the artistic narrative produced suggests a responsive, robust and resilient society -- abstract.