Why did Meroe collapse?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Little is known about why the once-powerful Meroe civilization eventually collapsed. The former capital of the kingdom of Kush, Meroe began to decline between 100 and 200 A.D., due in part to constant warring with Roman Egypt and "the decline of its traditional industries," namely the production of iron and international trade in such items as cotton and jewelry. Other reasons for Meroe's decline include

  • the "over-exploitation of the environment," making much of its soil no longer productive 
  • iron production had "consumed most of the forests for charcoal"
  • the "demand for luxury goods fell"
  • the decline of Roman Egypt itself had a financial effect

Conflicts with the kingdom of Axum threatened Meroe's trade routes along the Nile River, and Axum eventually conquered Meroe in the 4th century A.D., "although by that time there was not much left to conquer." The city was apparently abandoned between 300-350 A.D. 

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