Today’s political strife in Syria parallels events the fall of the Akkadian empire in Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years ago, according to research published recently.
The Akkadian empire thrived in the third millennium BC, but around 2,200 BC drought hit and people fled from urban centers, leading to collapse of the government. The entire empire faltered amidst calamities referred to as the third-millennium Mesopotamian urban crisis.
According to Scientific American:
Until now, our understanding of the Mesopotamian urban crisis had been based on archaeological studies of ceramic artifacts and changes in the size of archaeological sites along with what we know about farming practices popular at the time.
But archaeologist Ellery Frahm of the University of Sheffield in the UK and his colleagues used geochemical techniques and rock magnetic analyses to examine trade and the social networks associated with it instead.
The researchers used electron microscopy and chemical analyses to examine 97 obsidian tools excavated earlier from a site called Tell Mozan, dating from the early Akkadian empire to several centuries after its demise. Located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in northeastern Syria, the site was known as Urkesh in antiquity, and was densely populated at the height of the Akkadian empire.
Parallels exist to the situation in Syria today. "Some archaeologists contend that the Akkadian Empire was brought down by militarism and that violence ended its central economic role in the region, and a governmental collapse is a real possibility in Syria after nearly two years of fighting," Frahm says.
Image is Mesopotamian stela depicting the god Nanna from around 2080 BC.