A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Ancient Well in Egypt Offers Clues to Possible Drought
Thursday, March 25, 2021
WARSAW, POLAND—Some 2,000 years ago, a volcanic eruption may have triggered a drought and the abandonment of the port of Berenice, according to a New Scientist report. Marek Woźniak of the Polish Academy of Sciences' Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures and James Harrell of the University of Toledo have found a well in a tower at the site, which is located on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. Although there is water in the well today, the researchers determined that it dried up between 220 and 200 B.C. Two bronze coins recovered from a layer of sand in the well date to before 199 B.C. A previous study indicates that a volcanic eruption in 209 B.C. released sulphate aerosols into the Earth’s atmosphere that caused a lack of summer rain in Egypt. This volcano could have been as far away as Mexico, Martinique, or Japan, the researchers explained. People eventually returned to Berenice, however, and the city was annexed by the Romans in 30 B.C., to become the empire’s southernmost port. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Antiquity. To read about an animal cemetery uncovered at Berenice, go to "Around the World: Egypt."
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