What is CEME?

The Climate and Ecology of the Mongol Empire (CEME) project combines archaeological and historical data sources with tree ring records of past climate, lake sediment records of water resources, and modeled estimates of net primary productivity and potential abundance of domesticated livestock to illuminate the role of energy and water in the evolution of a complex society.


We hypothesize that:

  1. The rise of the Mongols and the city of Karakorum coincided with elevated temperature, unusually moist conditions, high rates of grassland productivity, and high rates of domesticated herbivore productivity.
  2. High rates of domesticated herbivore productivity, increasingly heavy use of lacustrine (lake) systems, and climate change subsequently led to declines in water quantity and quality in Karakorum c. 1260 CE.
  3. Environmental constraints coincided with a significant shift of the Mongol enterprise away from grassland resources and a refocusing of social and political power out of the Orkhon Valley c. 1260 CE.