Late Holocene drought responsible for the collapse of Old World civilizations is recorded in an Italian cave flowstone
A severe drought in parts of low-latitude northeastern Africa and southwestern Asia ∼4200 yr ago caused major disruption to ancient civilizations. Stable isotope, trace element, and organic fluorescence data from a calcite flowstone collected from the well-watered Alpi Apuane karst of central-western Italy indicate that the climatic event responsible for this drought was also recorded in mid-latitude Europe. Although the timing of this event coincides with an episode of increased ice-rafted debris to the subpolar North Atlantic, the regional ocean-atmosphere response seems atypical of similar Holocene ice-rafting events. Furthermore, comparison of the flowstone data with other regional proxies suggests that the most extreme part of the dry spell occurred toward the end of a longer-term climate anomaly.