井底之蛙

1/3/2007

For the want of a Monsoon

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 7:13 pm

According to Yahoo Asia Nature will be publishing an article tomorrow that claims that climate change was the cause of the fall of the Tang dynasty. A team of German scientists looked at core samples from Guangdong and determined that the summer monsoon was very weak from about 700 to 900, thus explaining the fall of the Tang in 907.

All I have read is the Yahoo summary, not the actual article. I assume Nature published it because the team did something neat about finding data on ancient climate. If the authors actually claim to be explaining the fall of the Tang, however, this strikes me as lousy history. For one thing, 700 to 900 is a long time, stretching well into the middle Tang, and thus could not really explain the fall of the Tang. More importantly, Guangdong, and I would guess even Jiangnan were pretty insignificant to the Tang. The agricultural heartland was still the Yellow River plain, and the monsoon would seem to have little to do with agriculture there.

Unless I am missing something this seems to be a case of someone finding out something really interesting and then making wild historical claims from it.

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