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"The link between drought and the rise and fall of Egypt's ancient cultures, including the pyramid builders, has long fascinated scientists and historians. Now, they're looking into an unexpected source to find connections: mummy teeth.
A chemical analysis of teeth enamel from Egyptian mummies reveals the Nile Valley grew increasingly arid from 5,500 to 1,500 B.C., the period including the growth and flourishing of ancient Egyptian civilization.
"Egyptian civilization was remarkable in its long-term stability despite a strong environmental pressure — increasing aridity — that most likely put constraints on the development of resources linked to agriculture and cattle breeding," said senior study author Christophe Lecuyer, a geochemist at the University of Lyon in France.
Many studies have linked dramatic droughts to crises near the end of the Old Kingdom (the Age of the Pyramids) in the third millennium B.C. But Lecuyer and his colleagues also found a jump in aridity before the downfall of Egypt in the 6th century B.C. during the Late Period, when it was conquered by Alexander the Great.
However, the new study can't resolve the occasional drops in annual Nile River floods or short-term droughts that often caused widespread famine and upsets in Egyptian history." - NBC News Science