Climate Amelioration and the Rise of the Xiongnu Empire

Author(s): Jean-Luc Houle; Michael Rosenmeier

Year: 2017


Climate has been debated by historians and archaeologists as one possible contributing factor for the emergence and collapse of complex societies. Recently, connections have been proposed between an ameliorating environment, surplus resources, energy, and the rise of Chinggis Khan’s 13th-century Mongol Empire. If favorable climate and increased rangeland productivity do indeed play a critical role in the politics of pastoral nomads, then we should be able to observe this in other cases too. This poster presentation evaluates the role that climate might have played in the rise and expansion of the Xiongnu Empire (3rd century BC to 2nd century AD), using regional-scale archaeological data and climate reconstructions in Mongolia. Our data show a dramatic change in temperature and precipitation in central Mongolia during the Xiongnu period and enhanced productivity in the heartland of the empire. Climatic amelioration could thus have provided ample resources for strengthening the new unified leadership, although the picture is more complex.

Cite this Record

Climate Amelioration and the Rise of the Xiongnu Empire. Jean-Luc Houle, Michael Rosenmeier. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431928)


Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15322