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A geospatial and climatic analysis of the rise and fall of the Aksumite Empire on the Tigray Plateau, Ethiopia

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Talon Roberts

Ethiopia and the horn of Africa are well known for their vast history of human activity. This history includes some of the oldest hominid remains ever found, as well as many ancient civilizations that have come and gone through time, including the Aksumite Empire. This research strives to understand the environmental and anthropogenic history of the Aksumite Empire through developing a modern baseline with recent climate and geospatial data in the horn of Africa and comparing that data with long-term paleoclimate archives. This research will explore linkages among climate drivers and long-term fire reconstructions from sedimentary charcoal research from samples collected in 2019 near the city of Adigrat, Ethiopia. Specifically, to investigate what factors may have ultimately led to the collapse of the Aksumite Empire around 700 A.D. The sediment core sample location is documented as once hosting ancient Aksumite farmlands, where intentional burning likely occurred. Through examining current climatic data in the horn of Africa and comparing it with long-term paleoclimate reconstructions (e.g., Lamb et al. 2007; Terwilliger et al. 2011) and a newly created sedimentary-charcoal fire history, this research aims to better understand factors that contributed to the decline of the Aksumite Empire. Specifically, this research explores whether natural environmental factors, anthropogenic factors (e.g., over-exploitation of resources), or potentially a combination of several factors contributed to the demise of the Aksumites.
University / Institution: University of Utah
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #C46
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Mitchell Power