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Ancient Civilizations and Climate Change


A video lecture by Raghu Murtugudde, University of Maryland, on the historic record of human activity from the start of the Holocene period, 11,000 years ago, to the Little Ice Age. This video lecture is part 2 of a 3-part lecture series titled ‘Climate Change on Historic Timescales’ of a MOOC. This MOOC is titled ‘Climate Change’ and has been developed by the National Resource Centre on Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, India.

Students will learn about the impact of human activities on Earth’s climate throughout human history. They will also learn how ancient civilizations such as the Indus Valley civilization, the Vikings, Nile River civilizations, the Mayans and the European civilizations expanded during the Holocene optimum. They will further understand the decline of these civilizations during the last glacial maximum. In addition, students will also learn about the Little Ice Age, colonisation, war and disease.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What is the Holocene optimum? What were its impacts on the Vikings?
  2. What are ‘Natural Forcings’ and how did it cause the Little Ice Age?
  3. How is the Manchu conquest of China related to the Little Ice Age?
About Tool
Tool Name W04 C03 P05 L02 Climate Change on Historical Timescales Lecture 02 
Discipline Earth Sciences, Environmental Studies, Social Sciences
Topic(s) in Discipline Anthropology, Archaeology, Climate History, Recent Climate Change, Anthroposphere, Cultural Studies, Ancient Civilizations, Earth’s Climate, Indus Valley civilization, Vikings, Nile River civilizations, Mayan civilization, European civilizations, Holocene, Little Ice Age, Last Glacial Maximum
Climate Topic Climate and the Anthroposphere, Climate Variability Record, Long-term Feedback Mechanisms, Climate and Society
Type of tool Video (40 mins)
Grade Level Undergraduate, Graduate
Location Global
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by National Resource Centre (NRC) on Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) 
Hosted at IISER Pune Channel on YouTube
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


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