06 OctEarth Science and Engineering Graduate SeminarZOOM WEBINAR: Volcanic forcing of the Nile watershed & Ancient History
ZOOM WEBINAR: Volcanic forcing of the Nile watershed & Ancient History
  • Prof. Joseph Manning
  • Yale University
  • Wednesday, October 06, 2021
  • 04:30 PM - 05:30 PM
2021-10-06T16:302021-10-06T17:30Asia/RiyadhZOOM WEBINAR: Volcanic forcing of the Nile watershed & Ancient HistoryKAUST, WEBINAR VIA ZOOMProf. Sigurjón Jónssonsigurjon.jonsson@kaust.edu.sa


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Abstract: This lecture provides an overview of the Yale Nile Initiative project studying the link between the volcanic forcing of the East African Monsoon, Nile River flow and the political history of the eastern Mediterranean world. The eruption of Etna in 44 BC, for example, a lot of portends in the Roman world, solar dimming, the sun "giving forth little heat," and blood red moons but it did not change the world's climate. Another volcano in a part of the world totally unknown to the ancients, however, was about to erupt, and it would spell disaster not only to Egypt and Rome but to many other parts of the world. In one of the remotest places on Earth, the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, in the winter of 43 BC, the largest eruption in the northern hemisphere in the last 2500 years produced a sudden and massive drop in global temperatures that persisted for a decade. Tree ring records from the White Mountains of California tells us that the decade between 43 and 33 BC was the second coldest in the northern hemisphere in human history, and it brought misery not only to Egypt, where the Nile failed to flood for several years in a row, but to Italy, which endured severe cold Summers that disrupted agriculture and military campaigns, and even to China. While we have to guess what the 30's BC were like—little historical evidence survives from these years— recovery from famine and disease would not have been quick. By 31 BC, the Roman Empire had replaced both the Republic and the Ptolemaic kingdom.

Biography: J.G. Manning was educated at The Ohio State University and the University of Chicago, which included a year-long American Research Center in Egypt Fellowship that allowed him the opportunity to live and travel in Egypt, and a year studying at Cambridge University. At Chicago Manning studied Egyptology and Ancient History, taking an AM and a PHD in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. His research has two primary research foci, the economic and legal history of the Hellenistic world, and Egyptian history in the long run. At Yale he is the William K. and Marilyn M. Simpson Professor of History and of Classics, with appointments also in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Yale Law School, and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  He was co-Director of the Yale Initiative for the Study of Antiquity and the Premodern World. He is the PI of the Yale Nile Initiative funded by a major grant from the US National Science Foundation examining the coupled natural-human system dynamics between explosive volcanic eruptions, suppression of the East African Monsoon and societal responses.



  • Prof. Sigurjón Jónsson
  • sigurjon.jonsson@kaust.edu.sa