This period was witness to a number of climate fluctuations spread over 4,500 years. Overall, experts say that temperatures were lower during this time than during the Mid-Holocene Thermal Maximum. From 2,500 to 4,500 years ago, a cooling period called the Iron Age neoglacia-tion occurred. The climate then heated around the time of the birth of the Roman Empire but cooled again during the Dark Ages (476-1000 c.E.). After this period, the climate warmed during what was referred to as the Medieval Optimum, or Medieval Warm Period. At this time, climate was sufficiently favorable to allow large-scale exploration and expansion of civilizations.
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