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Encyclopedia > Bronze Age collapse

The Bronze Age collapse is the name of the Dark Age period of history of the Ancient Middle East extending between the collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and Syria, and the Egyptian Empire in Syria and Palestine between 1206 and 1150 BC, down to the rise of settled Neo-Hittite Aramaean kingdoms of the mid-10th century BC, and the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. In the first phase of this period, almost every city between Troy and Gaza was destroyed, and often left unoccupied thereafter (for example, Troy, Hattusas, Mycenae, Ugarit). (for a discussion of the Dark Age concept in European History, go to Western European Dark Ages) A Dark Age is a name, drawn from Western European historiography, to apply to the period of the collapse of a civilisation. ... Overview map of the Ancient Near East The term Ancient Near East or Ancient Orient encompasses the early civilizations predating Classical Antiquity in the region roughly corresponding to that described by the modern term Egypt, the Fertile Crescent, Anatolia), during the time roughly spanning the Bronze Age from the rise... Mycenaean Greece, the last phase of the Bronze Age in ancient Greece, is the historical setting of the epics of Homer and much other Greek mythology. ... Relief of Suppiluliuma II, last known king of the Hittite Empire The Hittites were an ancient people from Kaneš who spoke an Indo-European language, and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa (Hittite URU) in north-central Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite... This article is about two nested areas of Turkey, a plateau region within a peninsula. ... Khafres Pyramid and the Great Sphinx of Giza, built about 2550 BC during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom,[1] are enduring symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeastern Africa concentrated along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River... This article is about the geographical area known as Palestine. ... The Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 9th to 7th centuries BC The so-called Neo-Hittite or post-Hittite states were Luwian-speaking political entities of Iron Age Syria that arose after the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC, the time of... The Arameans or Aramaeans (also called Syriacs) were a Semitic, nomadic people who dwelt in Aram-Naharaim or Aram of the two rivers, also known as Mesopotamia a region including modern Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Iran that is mentioned six times in the Hebrew Bible. ... Map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and its expansions. ... For other uses of Troy or Ilion, see Troy (disambiguation) and Ilion (disambiguation). ... Hattusa (also known as Hattusas or Hattush) was the capital of the Hittite Empire. ... A clay tablet with writing in Linear B from Mycenae. ... Excavated ruins at Ras Shamra. ...

Contents

Regional evidence

Anatolia

Main article: Downfall of the Hittite Empire

Every site important during the preceding Late Bronze Age shows a destruction layer, and it appears that here civilization was not to recover to the same level as that of the Hittites for another thousand years. Hattusas, the Hittite capital was burned and abandoned, and never reoccupied. Karaoglan was burned and the corpses left unburied. Troy was destroyed at least twice, before being abandoned till Roman times. Hittites is the conventional English-language term for an ancient people who spoke an Indo-European language and established a kingdom centered in Hattusa (Hittite URU) in north-central Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite Empire was at its height, encompassing central Anatolia... Destruction Layer is a strata found in the excavation of an archaeological siteshowing evidence of the hiding and burial of valuables, the presence of widespread fire, mass murder, unburied corpses, loose weapons in public places, or other evidence of destruction, either by natural causes (for example earthquakes), or as a... Relief of Suppiluliuma II, last known king of the Hittite Empire The Hittites were an ancient people from Kaneš who spoke an Indo-European language, and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa (Hittite URU) in north-central Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite... Hattusa (also known as Hattusas or Hattush) was the capital of the Hittite Empire. ... For other uses of Troy or Ilion, see Troy (disambiguation) and Ilion (disambiguation). ...


Cyprus

The catastrophe separates Late Cypriot II (LCII) from the LCIII period, with the sacking and burning of the sites of Enkomi, Kition, and Sinda, may have occurred twice, before being abandoned. A number of sites were not destroyed, but also abandoned. At Kokkinokremos, a short-lived settlement where various caches concealed by smiths suggests that none ever returned to reclaim treasures, suggesting they were killed or enslaved. The Prehistoric Period is the oldest part of Cypriot history. ...


Syria

Syrian sites previously showing evidence of trade links with Egypt and the Aegean in the late Bronze Age. Evidence of Ugarit shows that the destruction there occurred after the reign of Merenptah and even the fall of Chancellor Bay. Letters found baked in the conflagration of the destruction of the city speak of attack from the sea, and a letter from Alashiya (Cyprus) speaks of cities already being destroyed from attackers who came by sea. It also speaks of the Ugarit fleet being absent, patrolling the coast. Chancellor Bay on the door jamb of the Amada temple, Nubia, shown adoring the cartouch of Siptah Chancellor Bay was an important non-Egyptian official who rose to prominence and high office under Seti II Userkheperure Setepenre and later became an influential powerbroker in the closing stages of the 19th...


Palestine

Egyptian evidence shows that from the reign of Horemheb, wandering Shasu were more problematic. Rameses II campaigned against them, pursuing them as far as Moab, where he established a fortress, after the near collapse at the Battle of Kadesh. These Shasu were problematic, particularly when during the reign of Merenptah, they threatened the Via Maris "Way of Horus" north from Gaza. Evidence shows that Deir Alla (Succoth) was destroyed after the reign of Queen Twosret. The destruction of Lachish was briefly reoccupied by squatters and an Egyptian garrison, during the reign of Rameses III. All centres along the Via Maris, from Gaza north were destroyed, and evidence shows Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Akko, and Jaffa were burned and not reoccupied for up to thirty years. Inland Hazor, Bethel, Beth Shemesh, Eglon, Debir, and other sites were destroyed. Refugees escaping the collapse of coastal centres may have fused with incoming nomadic and Anatolian elements to begin the growth of terraced hillside hamlets in the Highlands region, that was associated with the later development of the state of Israel. Djeserkheperure Setepenre Holy are the Manifestations of Re, Chosen of Re[1] Nomen Horemheb Meryamun Horus is in Jubilation, Beloved of Amun Consort(s) Mutnedjmet, Amenia Died 1292 BC Burial KV57 Djeserkheperure Horemheb was the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypts 18th Dynasty from c. ... Shasu is an Egyptian term for nomads who appeared in the Levant from the 15th Century BC all the way to the Third Intermediate Period. ... Ramesses II, Abu Simbel Ramesses II (also known as Ramesses the Great and alternatively transcribed as Ramses and Rameses) was an Egyptian pharaoh. ... Moab (Hebrew: מוֹאָב, Standard Tiberian  ; Greek Μωάβ ; Arabic مؤاب, Assyrian Muaba, Maba, Maab ; Egyptian Muab) is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in modern-day Jordan running along the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. ... Combatants New Kingdom of Egypt Hittite Empire Commanders Ramesses II Muwatalli II Strength 2,000+ chariots[2] and ca. ... Shasu is an Egyptian term for nomads who appeared in the Levant from the 15th Century BC all the way to the Third Intermediate Period. ... Merneptah (occasionally: Merenptah) was pharaoh of Ancient Egypt (1213 – 1203 BC), the fourth ruler of the 19th Dynasty. ... Via Maris is an ancient trading route dating from the Early Bronze Age which linked Egypt with the northern empires of Syria, Anatolia and Mesopotamia - modern day Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. ... Sukkot (סוכות or סֻכּוֹת sukkōt, booths) or Succoth is an 8-day Biblical pilgrimage festival, also known as the Feast of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles, or Tabernacles. ... nomen or birth name Queen Twosret Sitre Meryamun was a Queen of Egypt and the last Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty. ... Lachish was a town located in the Shephelah, or maritime plain of Palestine (Joshua 10:3, 5; 12:11). ... Osirid statues of Ramses III at Karnak. ... Not to be confused with the Spanish name Garza or the Egyptian town of Giza. ... Hebrew Founded in 1956 Government City (from 1968) District South Population 204,400 (2005) Jurisdiction 60,000 dunams (60 km²) Mayor Zvi Zilker Ashdod (Hebrew: ‎; Arabic: , Isdud), located in the Southern District of Israel towards the south of the Israeli Coastal Plain, is a city of over 200,000 people... Hebrew אַשְׁקְלוֹן (Standard) AÅ¡qÉ™lon Arabic عسقلان Founded in 1951 Government City Also Spelled Ashqelon (officially) District South Population 105,100 (2004) Jurisdiction 55,000 dunams (55 km²) Mayor Roni Mahatzri Ashkelon (Hebrew: ‎; Tiberian Hebrew ʾAÅ¡qÉ™lôn; Arabic: ‎  ; Latin: Ascalon) is a city in the western Negev, in the... The Old City of Akko in the 19th or early 20th century, looking south-west from atop the Land Wall Promenade, the open space now a parking lot. ... For other uses, see Jaffa (disambiguation). ... Hazor (Hebrew: courtyard or settlement) is the name of several places in ancient and modern Israel: // Locations in ancient Israel One of the most important Caananite towns. ... Bethel (בית אל), also written as Beth El or Beth-El, is a Semitic word that has acquired various meanings. ... Bet Shemesh is a large Jewish neighborhood near Jerusalem in the modern State of Israel. ... A Biblical name, Eglon refers to either: A Canaanite city, whose king Debir joined a confederacy against Gibeon when that city made peace with Israel. ... A Biblical name, Debir may refer to: The most inner and sacred part of Solomons Temple, most commonly known as Sanctum Santorum. A Canaanite king of Eglon, slain by Joshua. ...


Greece

None of the Mycenaean palaces of the Late Bronze Age survived, with destruction being heaviest at palaces and fortified sites. Up to 90% of small sites in the Peloponnese were abandoned, suggesting a major depopulation. It was the start of what has been called the Greek Dark Ages, which was not to lift for more than 400 years. Other cities, like Athens, continued but with a more local sphere of influence, limited evidence of trade and an impoverished culture, from which it took centuries to recover. The Greek Dark Ages (ca. ... This article is about the capital of Greece. ...


Mesopotamia

The cities of Norsuntepe, Emar and Carchemish were destroyed, and the Assyrians narrowly escaped an invasion by Mushki tribes during the reign of Tiglath Pileser I. With the spread of Ahhlamu or Aramaeans, control of the Babylonian and Assyrian regions extended barely beyond the city limits. Babylon was sacked by the Elamites under Shutruk-Nahhunte, and lost control of the Diyala valley. It has been suggested that Barbalissos be merged into this article or section. ... Carchemish (pr. ... The Mushki (Muški) were an Iron Age people of Anatolia, known from and Assyrian sources. ... Tiglath-Pileser I (the Hebraic form of Tukulti-apil-Esharra, my trust is in the son of Esharra) was King of Assyria (1114 BC - 1076 BC). ... The Aramaeans, or Arameans, were a Semitic, semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who originated and had lived in upper Mesopotamia and Syria. ... Babylonia was an ancient state in Iraq), combining the territories of Sumer and Akkad. ... blah ... The ancient Elamite Empire lay to the east of Sumer and Akkad, in what is now southwestern Iran. ...


Egypt

After apparently surviving for a while the Egyptian Empire collapsed in the mid twelfth century BCE (during the reign of Rameses VI). Previously the Merenptah stele spoke of attacks from Lybians, with associated people of Ekwesh, Shekelesh, Lukka, Shardana and Tursha or Teresh, and a Canaanite revolt, in the cities of Ashkelon, Yenoam and the people of Israel. A second attack during the reign of Rameses III involved Peleset, Tjekker, Shardana and Denyen. The Third Intermediate Period refers to the time in Ancient Egypt from the death of Pharaoh Rameses XI in 1070 BC to the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I, following the expulsion of the Nubian rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty. ... Image of Ramesses VI on display at the Louvre Ramesses VI (also written Ramses and Rameses) (reigned 1142 BC to 1134 BC) was the fifth ruler of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt and his tomb, KV9, is located near King Tutankhamens in the Valley of the Kings. ... The Merneptah Stele is the reverse of a stela erected by Amenhotep III written by Merneptah. ... The Achaeans (in Greek , Akhaioi) is one of the collective names used for the Greeks in Homers Iliad (used 598 times) and Odyssey. ... Sea Peoples is the term used in ancient Egyptian records of a race of ship-faring raiders who drifted into the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and attempted to enter Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty, and especially year 5 of Rameses III of the 20th Dynasty. ... The Lukka lands are often mentioned in Hittite texts from the second millennium BC. It denotes a region in the southwestern part of Asia Minor, modern Turkey. ... The Shardana or Sherden sea pirates are one of several groups of Sea Peoples who appear in fragmentary historical records (Egyptian inscriptions) for the Mediterranean region in the second millennium B.C.; little is known about them. ... Hebrew אַשְׁקְלוֹן (Standard) AÅ¡qÉ™lon Arabic عسقلان Founded in 1951 Government City Also Spelled Ashqelon (officially) District South Population 105,100 (2004) Jurisdiction 55,000 dunams (55 km²) Mayor Roni Mahatzri Ashkelon (Hebrew: ‎; Tiberian Hebrew ʾAÅ¡qÉ™lôn; Arabic: ‎  ; Latin: Ascalon) is a city in the western Negev, in the... Osirid statues of Ramses III at Karnak. ... Map showing the location of Philistine land and cities of Gaza, Ashdod, and Ashkelon Map of the southern Levant, c. ... The Tjekker were one of the Sea Peoples who raided Egypt and the Levant during the 13th and 12th centuries BCE. They raided Egypt repeatedly before settling in northern Canaan. ... The Shardana or Sherden sea pirates are one of several groups of Sea Peoples who appear in fragmentary historical records (Egyptian inscriptions) for the Mediterranean region in the second millennium B.C.; little is known about them. ... Denyen or Danuna Based on New Kingdom Egyptian text, The Danuna are considered one of the major groups of the Sea Peoples. ...


Conclusion

Robert Drews describes it as "the worst disaster in ancient history, even more calamitous than the collapse of the Western Roman Empire".[1] A number of people have spoken of the cultural memories of the disaster as stories of a "lost golden age". Hesiod for example spoke of Ages of Gold, Silver and Bronze, separated from the modern harsh cruel world of the Age of Iron by the Age of Heroes. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Roman bronze bust, the so-called Pseudo-Seneca, now identified by some as possibly Hesiod Hesiod (Hesiodos, ) was an early Greek poet and rhapsode, who presumably lived around 700 BC. Hesiod and Homer, with whom Hesiod is often paired, have been considered the earliest Greek poets whose work has survived... The Heroic Age was the period of Greek mythological history that lay between the purely divine events of the Theogony and Titanomachy and the advent of historical time after the Trojan War. ...


Nature and causes of destruction

As part of the Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age Dark Ages, it was a period associated with the collapse of central authorities, a general depopulation, particularly of highly urban areas, the loss of literacy in Anatolia and the Aegean, and its restriction elsewhere, the disappearance of established patterns of long-distance international trade, increasingly vicious intra-elite struggles for power, and reduced options for the elite if not for the general mass of population. The Bronze Age is a period in a civilizations development when the most advanced metalworking (at least in systematic and widespread use) consisted of techniques for smelting copper and tin from naturally occurring outcroppings of ore, and then alloying those metals in order to cast bronze. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


There are various theories put forward to explain the situation of collapse, many of them compatible with each other.


Earthquakes

Amos Nur shows how earthquakes tend to occur in "sequences" or "storms" where a major earthquake above 6.5 on the Richter scale can in later months or years set off second or subsequent earthquakes along the weakened fault line. He shows that when a map of earthquake occurrence is superimposed on a map of the sites destroyed in the Late Bronze Age, there is a very close correspondence. [2] The Richter magnitude test scale (or more correctly local magnitude ML scale) assigns a single number to quantify the size of an earthquake. ...


Migrations and raids

Further information: Sea peoplesMushkiAramaeans, and Ancient Iranian peoples

Ekrem Akurgal, Gustav Lehmann and Fritz Schachermeyer, following the views of Gaston Maspero have argued on the basis of the wide spread findings of Naue II-type swords coming from South Eastern Europe, and Egyptian records of "northerners from all the lands"[3] The Budgie People is the term used for a confederacy of seafaring raiders who sailed into the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty, and especially during Year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty. ... The Mushki (Muški) were an Iron Age people of Anatolia, known from and Assyrian sources. ... The Aramaeans, or Arameans, were a Semitic, semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who originated and had lived in upper Mesopotamia and Syria. ... Ancient Iranian peoples who settled Greater Iran in the 2nd millennium BC first appear in Assyrian records in the 9th century BC. They remain dominant throughout Classical Antiquity in Scythia and Persia. ... Gaston Camille Charles Maspero (June 23, 1846 - June 30, 1916), French Egyptologist, was born in Paris, his parents being of Lombard origin. ...


The Ugarit correspondence draws attention to such groups as the mysterious Sea Peoples. Equally translation of the preserved Linear B documents in the Aegean, just before the collapse, demonstrates a rise in piracy and slave raiding, particularly coming from Anatolia. Egyptian fortresses along the Libyan coast, constructed and maintained after the reign of Rameses II were constructed to reduce raiding. Excavated ruins at Ras Shamra. ... The Budgie People is the term used for a confederacy of seafaring raiders who sailed into the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty, and especially during Year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty. ... This article is about the ancient syllabary. ... Ramesses II, Abu Simbel Ramesses II (also known as Ramesses the Great and alternatively transcribed as Ramses and Rameses) was an Egyptian pharaoh. ...


Ironworking

Leonard R. Palmer suggested that iron, whilst inferior to bronze weapons, was in more plentiful supply and so allowed larger armies of iron users to overwhelm the smaller armies of bronze using maryannu chariotry.[4] This argument has been weakened of late with the finding that the shift to iron occurred after the collapse, not before. It now seems that the disruption of long distance trade cut easy supplies of tin, making bronze impossible to make. Older implements were recycled and then iron substitutes were used. Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. ...


Drought

Barry Weiss [5], using the Palmer Drought Index for 35 Greek, Turkish, and Middle Eastern weather stations, showed that a drought of the kinds that persisted from January 1972 would have affected all of the sites associated with the Late Bronze Age collapse.


General systems collapse

A general systems collapse has been put forward as an explanation for the reversals in culture that occurred between the Urnfield period of the 12-13th centuries BC and the rise of the Celtic Halstatt culture in the 9th and 10th centuries BC.[6]


Changes in warfare

Robert Drews argues that the appearance of massed infantry, using newly developed weapons and armor, such as swords and javelins, on a proto-hoplite model, who were able to withstand attacks of massed chariotry, destabilized states based upon the use of chariots by the ruling class and precipitated an abrupt social collapse when raiders and/or infantry mercenaries were able to conquer, loot, and burn the cities.[7][1][2] Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century Look up Sword in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Javelin on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Javelin can refer to several things: For the spear-like object,used as a thrown weapon in ancient times see Javelin Ancient For the modern athletic discipline see Javelin throw. ... The hoplite was a heavy infantryman that was the central focus of warfare in Ancient Greece. ...


References

  1. ^ Braudel, Fernand "L'Aube" in Braudel, F. (Ed) (1977), "La Mediterranee: l'espace et l'histoire" (Paris)
  2. ^ Nur, Amos and Cline, Eric; (2000) "Poseidon's Horses: Plate Tectonics and Earthquake Storms in the Late Bronze Age Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean", Journ. of Archael. Sc. No 27 pps.43-63 - http://srb.stanford.edu/nur/EndBronzeage.pdf
  3. ^ Robbins, Manuel (2001) Collapse of the Bronze Age: the story of Greece, Troy, Israel, Egypt and Peoples of the Sea" (Authors Choice Press)
  4. ^ Palmer, Leonard R (1962) "Mycenaeans and Minoans: Aegean Prehistory in the Light of the Linear B Tablets". (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1962)
  5. ^ Weiss, Barry: (1982) "The decline of Late Bronze Age civilization as a possible response to climatic change" in Climatic Change ISSN 0165-0009 (Paper) 1573-1480 (Online), Volume 4, Number 2, June 1982, pps 173 - 198
  6. ^ http://www.iol.ie/~edmo/linktoprehistory.html - a page about the history of Castlemagner, on the web page of the local historical society
  7. ^ Drews, R (19930 "The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C." (Princeton 1993)

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