Science

Hun raids on the Roman Empire match peaks of drought – Sciences et Avenir

One thing is certain: Roman historians were not kind to their enemies! As for the Huns, they did not hesitate to ridicule ugliness and ugliness, while emphasizing their cruelty and insatiability. A completely negative portrait that has remained unchanged until today… But this way of describing “barbarian” behavior, fundamentally opposed to Roman civilization, has been part of the convention for nomadic peoples since at least the time of Herodotus, and is rather difficult to define. to prove archaeologically that the motives of the Huns, who came to challenge the Roman Empire all the way to Gaul in 451, were based solely on an appetite for gold, a thirst that seemed to be written into their genes!

What if these pastoral nomads from the Eurasian steppes had to change their behavior, ask instead two researchers from the University of Cambridge (UK)? Climate reconstruction based on tree rings in Central Europe does suggest that periods of severe drought may have pushed the Hunnic population to change their way of life: some replaced agriculture with pastoralism, while others resorted to violent acts, even looting. Their study, published in the Journal of Roman Archaeology, suggests that climate change can affect economic, political, and social organization. And turn ordinary shepherds into formidable marauders.

Did the drought cause the Huns to invade the Roman Empire?

In the 4th and 5th centuries AD, nomads originating from the Eurasian steppes moved further west to partially settle in the Danubian region. These peoples, referred to by the global name of the Huns, were engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry in the area corresponding to modern Hungary, beyond the Roman limes (border, approx. ed.) formed by the Danube. But “as soon as they started dealing with the Roman Empire, they turned into fighting units,” says archaeologist Susanne Hakenbeck, who is joined by Sciences et Avenir.

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