SODOM & GOMORRAH: Archaeologists and historians have found ancient texts composed between 816 and 1009 AD in Iraq. Researchers published an analysis in Weather of the various writings done by scholars, historians, and diarists who lived during the Islamic Golden Age.
The team found that the climate in Iraq likely experienced greater extremes than they do today. The writings document significant climate events such as severe cold weather that are rare in present time.
“Climate information recovered from these ancient sources mainly refers to extreme events which impacted wider society such as droughts and floods,” said the primary author, Dr. Fernando Dominguez-Castro. “However, they also document conditions which were rarely experienced in ancient Baghdad such as hailstorms, the freezing of rivers or even cases of snow.”
In 891, Baghdad was considered a city without rival that had hot summers and cold winters, making the climate in Iraq perfect for strong agriculture. Even Herodotus tells us that the size of grain crops in Mesopotamia were larger and more plentiful than anywhere else in the world. The writers documented a number of cold events in the first parts of the 10th century. There were significant temperature drops during July 920 AD, snowfall in 908, 944, and 1007 – compared to the only record of snow in modern Baghdad in 2008.
The published study focuses primarily on Iraq, but it clearly has implications for the rest of the era. Dominguez-Castro says that “Ancient Arabic documentary sources are a very useful tool for finding eye witness descriptions which support the theories made by climate models” and that “The ability to reconstruct past climates provides us with useful historical context for understanding our own climate. We hope this potential will encourage Arabic historians and climatologists to work together to increase the climate data rescue from across the Islamic world.”
Thanks to Anthony Watts for the tip.