Archaeology Magazine

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Drought May Have Doomed Bronze Age Civilizations

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lions-Gate-MycenaeMARSEILLE, FRANCEAround 1300 B.C. the Late Bronze Age civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean began to collapse, and the Hittite, Mycenaean, and Syro-Palestian cultures, among others, eventually vanished. Wars, crop failures, and famines have all been suggested as triggers for this spectacular collapse, but now climatologists led by Joel Guiot of Aix-Marseille University say that climate change was likely responsible. The team analyzed pollen samples from a deep core taken at a lake on Cyprus and found that about 3,200 years ago the island's lush landscape transformed into an arid one during what was the driest period in the region for the last 5,000 years. They also found less charcoal in later sediments, suggesting the population declined in the wake of the drought.