Adaptation to Short-Term Cataclysmic Events: Flooding in Premodern Riverine Societies

Mehrnoush Soroush, Lee Mordechai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article examines flooding and resilience in two riverine systems in the premodern Eastern Mediterranean. Flooding represents a distinct type of short-term cataclysmic events (SCEs) because of its frequency and long-term predictability which facilitates societal adaptation. We discuss the sources for premodern floods and their limitations before surveying Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt as case studies. Both societies are compared with regard to their environment and how it shaped local flood management practices. We argue that although floods caused short-term societal disruption in these societies, they also stimulated the reorganization and regeneration of economic resources. Both Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies systematically managed and mitigated their risks and were, in general, resilient to flooding events.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)349-361
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Disasters
  • Egypt
  • Floods
  • Mesopotamia
  • Natural hazards


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