Monday, November 4, 2013
A climate crisis traumatized the Near East and brought about the collapse of the great empires of the Bronze Age.
Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/dramatic-kinneret-discovery-climate-crisis-ruined-ancient-empires/2013/10/22/0/
A study of fossil pollen particles in sediments extracted from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee has revealed evidence of a climate crisis that traumatized the Near East from the middle of the 13th to the late 12th century BCE. The crisis brought about the collapse of the great empires of the Bronze Age.
“In a short period of time, the entire world of the Bronze Age crumbled,” explains Tel Aviv University archaeologist Prof. Finkelstein. “The Hittite empire, Egypt of the Pharaohs, the Mycenaean culture in Greece, the copper producing kingdom located on the island of Cyprus, the great trade emporium of Ugarit on the Syrian coast and the Canaanite city-states under Egyptian hegemony – all disappeared and only after a while were replaced by the territorial kingdoms of the Iron Age, including Israel and Judah.”
...The counting and the identification of the pollen grains revealed a period of severe droughts between ca. 1250 and 1100 BCE.
...Another novelty in the current research is in the chronological correlation between the pollen results and two other records of the past. At the end of the Bronze Age many Eastern Mediterranean cities were assaulted and destroyed by fire. The dates of these events indeed fall between ca. 1250-1100 BCE. The same holds true for ancient Near Eastern written documents that testify to severe droughts and famine in exactly the same period. Such documents are known from across the entire region – from the Hittite capital in Anatolia in the north, via Ugarit on the Syrian coast and Aphek in Israel to Egypt in the south...
Prof. Ronny Ellenblum of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem studied written documents that describe similar conditions – of severe droughts and famine – in the 10th‒11th centuries CE. He showed that in the northern parts of the Near East, such as northern Iran and Anatolia, shrinkage in precipitation was accompanied by devastating cold spells that destroyed crops.
...Severe cold spells destroyed the crops in the northern parts of the ancient Near East and shrinkage in precipitation damaged agricultural output in the eastern steppe parts of the region. This brought about the droughts and famine so well-described in the ancient texts, and motivated “large groups of people to start moving to the south in search of food,” says Egyptologist Shirly Ben-Dor Evian of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University.
These groups, including the Sea Peoples known from the texts of the period, moved by land and sea, assaulted cities and disrupted trade routes. All this caused a severe economic crisis which developed from north to south and reached Canaan. “It was an all-out war on dwindling resources,” says Ben-Dor Evian.