1. Once Upon a Time, There Was….

To tell a story about what happened 5,300 years ago in a faraway place, the storyteller needs to understand both the geographic and climatic setting, as-well-as the flora and fauna.  All four are, of course, closely connected. Moreover, these circumstances must logically proceed from a previous setting and extrapolate forward to a future setting.  To do this, we need data.

We have never had access to as much useful data as we now have on the web. The real problem is in knowing enough to google the right question. Google “Global Warming” and you will get pages of disturbing weather forecasts just over the horizon, and equally strident disavowals. But, google “Paleotemperature” and you get a look at the swings in glacial ice mass (inverse proxy for temperature) over the last 500,000 years, and find that cyclical changes in temperature and glacial ice have been—to say the least—dramatic over the ages. Consider the following:

Global Ice Volume and Temperatures over past 500,000 years BP

Source: Wikipedia article © Scientific Explorations with Paul Doherty © 2003. 22 November 2008

Take a moment to investigate the science underlying the left Y axis of the above graph: Read the Oxygen Balance and be aware that O-18 is only one of various proxies used to measure Paleoclimatic metrics. For insight on other proxies, check out Other proxies.

In the graph below, let’s zoom in on the 20,000 years old current warming cycle called the Holocene, already 8,000 years old before this chart begins. The chart displays the 12,000 years leading up to the present. It begins with the last 2,000 years of rapid warming, then levels off into a 6,000 year plateau. The mean temperature varies widely around the trend line, then declines for the last 4,000 years.

Holocene_Temperature_Variations copy

Source: Holocene Temperature Variations ©This figure was prepared by Robert A. Rohde from publicly available data and is incorporated into the Global Warming Art project. Most, but not all, of the original data is available from [3].(NOAA, NCDC)

The dark black line in the above graph is the average of the eight different lines representing records from different temperature proxies, which are explained in the linked Wikipedia article. Click the Source web site to read the article and draw your own conclusions. From there, you will have a good vantage point from which to consider the arguments on both sides of the present Global Warming debate.

Our Archaeology topic’s tab lists important excavations and their earliest dates. These sites are placed in the simplified Temperature vs. Timeline graph below. Gobekli Tepe and Jericho were founded 2,000 years before the steep Holocene warm-up ended. Gobekli Tepe’s builders demonstrated impressive technical skills, stunning given they were only 8,000 years out of the glacial maximum . We should not be surprised if even earlier monumental finds are revealed in the earlier stages of the warm-up.

Early Civilizations vs Temperatures in Holocene copy

©This graph was derived from the preceding graph, with credit to the same author.

The Raising Up Pharaoh novels are set 5,300 years BP, squarely on the mean temperature plateau of  the middle Holocene. But temperature gives only a partial picture of the environment during that time. Other important measures are sea level changes, precipitation, flora, and fauna. More on that next. Once these climatic indicators are understood on the late Holocene timeline, we will be ready to examine the people, their cultures, and the artifacts demonstrating their daily life.

2 Responses

  1. Marilyn J.
    Marilyn J. at |

    Forgive me for coming late to this party, but I just received my invite. I am truly fascinated by all the character and place names. From your extensive research, I realize they are all historically based, but are they also a product of your own “literary license?”( It’s difficult to imagine a PIE -American dictionary laying around on some library’s shelves.)


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