(ORDO NEWS) — During the 13th and 12th centuries BC, many of the “great ancient civilizations” fell like dominoes.
The once majestic cities of the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Middle East collapsed, writing systems were destroyed, rebellions broke out, wars raged, and cultures were seemingly wiped out.
The Late Bronze Age has been described as one of humanity’s first forays into globalization, but it ended in a violent, sudden, and deeply mysterious collapse.
Historians still argue furiously about the exact causes of the so-called “collapse of the Bronze Age,” but one thing is clear: it was not the most pleasant time for man. However, before its death, the Bronze Age was a relatively happy period of history.
As the name suggests, the culture was defined as a “Bronze Age civilization” due to its ability to produce bronze by smelting its own copper and fusing it with tin, arsenic, or other metals.
Bronze was stronger than other metals available at the time, allowing civilizations that harnessed its power to gain a technological advantage in weapons, tool making, engineering, and the arts.
In turn, this material shift allowed civilizations to eventually form large urban settlements, develop complex social class systems, and create multiple writing systems.
Among the civilizations that flourished during this era were the Middle Assyrian Empire in Mesopotamia, the New Kingdom of Egypt, the Babylonians, the Hittite Empire of Anatolia, the Mycenaeans in mainland Greece, and the Minoans in Crete.
All of these great powers were scattered throughout the Mediterranean and were closely linked through trade and migration.
However, around 1177 BC. e. this thriving network collapsed.
One of the most cited explanations for the collapse is the arrival of a marauding confederation of invaders known as the “Sea Peoples”.
The Sea Peoples left no monuments or written evidence, so their identity is far from clear and is still widely debated. It is often assumed that they were actually different maritime cultures that traveled the eastern Mediterranean.
Whoever the Sea Peoples were, they seem to have left their mark on this part of the world, wreaking havoc in parts of Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Canaan, Cyprus, and Egypt by the end of the Bronze Age between the 13th and 12th centuries. BC.
Archaeological evidence shows that during this dangerous time, countless cities in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East were destroyed or simply abandoned.
However, the arrival of these enigmatic seafarers is probably not all. Some argue that Bronze Age civilizations rotted from within as a result of a general systemic collapse.
This idea suggests that many Late Bronze Age kingdoms had “fatal centralized, complex and heavy” political structures that left them vulnerable to inequality and social instability.
Another possibility is the advent of iron and changes in the way war is waged, making battles even more destructive.
Another intriguing explanation is that the collapse of the Bronze Age was due to environmental upheaval.
A 2013 study examined pollen grains from ancient lake deposits in the region and found evidence of climate change during this time.
The authors of the study argue that this environmental change has led to widespread droughts, food shortages and famines.
The consequence was mass migration, social upheaval, and these once strong civilizations became vulnerable to invaders, possibly the Sea Peoples.
As always in history, the story of the collapse of the Bronze Age will never be explained by any single or linear explanation.
In fact, it is likely a complex combination of all these elements, with certain factors playing a larger role in some places than in others.
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