Climate Change or Muslims? Collapse of the Late Antique Sasanian Settlements, Mughan Steppe, Iranian Azerbaijan
Author(s): Karim Alizadeh
Recent research in the borderlands has increased our knowledge on the irrigation systems and urbanization plans of the Sasanian Empire in the late antiquity. In particular, surveys and excavations in the Mughan Steppe indicate that irrigation canals connected nearly all Sasanian settlements. Evidence suggests that after the 7th century AD most of the elaborate settlement system was abandoned and its irrigation infrastructure went out of use. While the exact date of this abandonment is unclear, it is possible that the collapse of the irrigation system itself could have brought an end to the Sasanian settlements which happened before the appearance of the Muslim army in the region in the mid-7th century. In this paper, I will present evidence of climate change that could have caused the abandonment of the Sasanian irrigation systems and associated settlements. Unlike a popular explanation of the decline of the Near East and the role of Islam, the evidence suggests that climate change could have contributed significantly to the collapse of Sasanian settlements before the arrival of Muslims. Understanding the causes of collapse is significant and may shed some light on the socio-political transformation of the southwest Asia at the end of late antiquity.
Cite this Record
Climate Change or Muslims? Collapse of the Late Antique Sasanian Settlements, Mughan Steppe, Iranian Azerbaijan. Karim Alizadeh. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442906)
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min long: 34.277; min lat: 13.069 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 42.94 ;
Abstract Id(s): 21964