Abstract

The Akkadian Empire was the first united empire in Mesopotamia and was established at 4.6 kyr B.P. (where present is A.D. 1950). The empire abruptly collapsed in 4.2 ± 0.2 kyr B.P. Seasonal-scale climatic dynamics behind this collapse have not yet been resolved. Here, we present monthly climatic parameters (temperature and hydrology) inferred from fossil Omani corals that lived between 4.5 and 2.9 kyr B.P. Winter temperatures derived from a modern Omani coral correlate with winter shamal (western Asian dust storm) frequency. A fossil coral from 4.1 kyr B.P. shows a prolonged winter shamal season with frequent shamal days. This likely caused agricultural failures in Mesopotamia and contributed to the Akkadian Empire collapse, as this region depends on winter rainfall.

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