Using evidence from trees of the period scientists believe they have proved a link between weather conditions and humanity’s more stable and unstable periods.

Obviously, adverse climate variations would have influenced farming, health and warfare aspects of ancient life.

But, this study is the first to directly show a link between periods of adverse weather and the collapse of Rome’s western empire.

Towards the end of the empire Rome split into two, the Eastern Empire covering modern day Turkey, much of the Arab world and North Africa and the Western Empire encompassing most of modern day Europe.

The research, published in the journal Science, admits ‘discrimination’ between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations ‘remains difficult’ because of a lack of accurate information about the period’s weather.

In order to try and link the weather to falls of ancient empires scientists looked at tree ring-based reconstructions of Central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years.

They found wet and warm summers took place during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity.

However, increased climate variability from AD 250 to 600 ‘coincided with the demise of the Western Roman Empire’.

A spokesman for the researchers said: “Historical circumstances may challenge recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.”

Luke Walsh

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