The collapse of Egypt’s Old Kingdom was not caused by climatic change


Author: Jill Levine

Historians have long identified climatic change as a key factor in the collapse of Egypt’s Old Kingdom, when Egypt attained its first peak of civilization in 3rd millennium BC. Citing new and compelling evidence, French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) director and Seshat expert Dr. Juan Carlos Moreno García argues that the first state in Egyptian history underwent a sociopolitical transformation marked by internal struggles within the kingdom, which in turn led to its fall. Contrary to traditions assumptions, García finds little evidence of a climate-related crisis and ample evidence of instability due to social and political turmoil, prompting him to rewrite our understanding of the Old Kingdom’s collapse.

Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt's Old Kingdom

The Pyramid of Djoser stands today as a symbol of Egypt’s Old Kingdom

This period in Egypt was marked by change and outside influence. Egypt’s international exchanges increased dramatically, leading to technical innovations adapted from other civilizations such as those found in the Levant and Mesopotamia. Internal struggle for power and wealth in this new economic era is a more likely cause of the collapse of the Old Kingdom than environmental factors, concludes Dr. Moreno García .

To learn more, read Dr. Moreno García’s full paper on


Notes for Editors: 

  • For further information contact Jill Levine via email or see Juan Carlos Moreno García’s webpage.
  • Seshat: Global History Databank is a large, international, multidisciplinary team of evolutionary scientists, historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, economists, and other social scientists. Our team includes scholars from various backgrounds, policy makers, and enthusiastic volunteers. Seshat is governed by an editorial board, who oversee work done by postdoctoral researchers, collaborators and consultants, and research assistants all over the world.
  • Cite this page: “The collapse of Egypt’s Old Kingdom was not caused by climatic change.”

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