About an hour east of Aleppo lies a low tell called Umm El-Marra. From the distance it is an indistinct feature lying in the relatively arid Jabbul Plain. The tell is hot, dry and dusty, On closer inspection it has much to reveal about the early history of northern Syria. Deep below the soft sediment deposited over milennia, Glenn Schwartz and his team have uncovered the remains of a bronze age city- including apparently royal burials associated with sacrificial offerings. The interesting thing that brought us here to see the site and speak with Glenn is the evidence that this city, like many others in northern Syria, declined or was perhaps abandoned around 2200 BC. At that time the city appears to have been an outpost of the world’s first empire, the Akkadian Empire. Interestingly, paleoclimatic evidence suggests that the timing of decline corresponds to a large and protracted drought. Was an unprecedented mega-drought a sufficient perturbation to cause such a widespread decline in urban culture? The questions remains debated in terms of Umm El-Marra. Gazing at the tell and surrounding country side one wonders, where would such a drought lead to today?