Hala Sultan Tekke

Climate Change may have Caused Collapse of Civilizations in Late Bronze Age

(Read the article on one page)

New research published in the journal Plos One has shown that climate change occurring towards the end of the 13 th century BC may have caused the collapse of the Eastern Mediterranean civilizations .

Ancient civilizations flourished in regions of the Eastern Mediterranean such as Greece, Syria and neighbouring areas, but suffered severe crises that led to their collapse during the late Bronze Age. Researchers have described the collapse as violent, sudden and culturally disruptive. The palace economy of the Aegean Region and Anatolia which characterised the Late Bronze Age was replaced, after a hiatus, by the isolated village cultures of the Greek Dark Ages.

Between 1206 and 1150 BCE, the cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and Syria, and the New Kingdom of Egypt in Syria and Canaan interrupted trade routes and severely reduced literacy.

Researcher David Kaniewski from the University of Paul Sabatier, France and colleagues from other institutions studied pollen grains derived from sediments of Larnaca Salt Lake, an ancient lake in Cyprus, to uncover a history of environmental changes that likely drove this crisis. Shifts in carbon isotopes in the Eastern Mediterranean and in local plant species suggest that this lake was once a flourishing harbour that gradually dried into a land-locked salt lake. As a result, crop failures led to famines, repeated invasions by migrants from neighbouring regions and eventually, the political and economic collapse of the Eastern Mediterranean civilizations at the end of the late Bronze Age.

According to Kaniewski, the collapse of the Mediterranean civilizations was a single complex event involving climate change-induced drought, famines, sea-borne invasions and political struggles, rather than a series of unrelated events.  The triggers for climate change are still debated, but ancient peoples could not have predicted nor coped with substantial climate changes.

By April Holloway

Featured image: Larnaca Salt Lake, Cyprus, the region where the study was performed. 

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Detail of a man depicted on an Uruk vase, Pergamon Museum. The Uruk civilization arose as it expertly adapted to the new climate.
Beginning around 90,000 years ago, during an interglacial period, Anatomically Modern Humans were able to take advantage of the favorable climatic conditions and migrate throughout Africa and into Asia. Soon thereafter, identifiable culture can be found in the archaeological record. As far as can be told, it was Homo Sapiens living in Africa that would make the first symbolic paintings, but Neanderthals soon did this as well.

Myths & Legends

Noah's Sacrifice - watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot
The imperfect state of archaeological researches in the Near East impedes any definite identification of the original race or races that created the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. According to Gordon Childe, however, the predominant racial element in the earliest graves in the region from Elam to the Danube is the ‘Mediterranean’.

Human Origins

Noah's Sacrifice - watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot
The imperfect state of archaeological researches in the Near East impedes any definite identification of the original race or races that created the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. According to Gordon Childe, however, the predominant racial element in the earliest graves in the region from Elam to the Danube is the ‘Mediterranean’.

Opinion

The ancient and mysterious Sphinx, Giza, Egypt.
In 1995, NBC televised a prime-time documentary hosted by actor Charlton Heston and directed by Bill Cote, called Mystery of the Sphinx. The program centered on the research and writings of John Anthony West, a (non-academic) Egyptologist, who, along with Dr. Robert Schoch, a professor of Geology at Boston University, made an astounding discovery on the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article