The Bronze Age Collapse Was A Transition In The Aegean Region Essay

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The Bronze Age collapse was a transition in the Aegean Region, Southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive. The palace economies that characterized the late Bronze Age completely collapsed and the great Mediterranean cities were destroyed, many of them to never be occupied again. Historians have always theorized why this collapse occurred and have never settled on a definitive answer, instead each believing in separate causes, some more justifiable than others.

Historians and archeologists have often claimed that natural disasters led to the downfall of Bronze Age civilization. One such proposal, from Greek archaeologist Iakonovides, was that the destruction of Mycenae was a result of earthquake and fire. However, this theory, and all others indicating seismic activity as a cause, was disproved by archaeological excavations. Although there was no direct physical damage to the cities of the Bronze Age, Rhys Carpenter proposed that the Bronze Age centers had fallen victim to an intense and prolonged drought. Studies of climatic patterns through tree rings, pollen deposits and lake levels suggested that there had been an intense drought throughout the Aegean around 1200 BC. The crop failure that was caused by this drought would have been a disaster for the over-specialized economies of the Bronze Age because they were completely dependent on a good harvest in-order to sustain trade. The socio-economic implications of a drought give credence to the theory that natural disasters had an impact on the collapse of Bronze Age civilization.

A hugely popular theory for why the civilizations of the Bronze Age collapsed was that of invasion. Historians believe that a great invasion of ‘sea people’ crippled the Bronze Age civilizations. Evidence of this invasion is seen in inscriptions on the walls of the great temples at Medinet Habu, which record the sea peoples as the attackers in the "great sea and land raids" against Egypt in 1186. These raids would have physically collapsed the cities that were attacked, weakening the power of the great kingdoms of the Bronze Age and stopping any trading with these rich eastern markets that the palace economies heavily depended on for survival. Also, the trade that was heavily relied upon in the Bronze Age would have been heavily diminished by the presence of the sea peoples raiding parties along the important trade routes of the Mediterranean Sea. This reduced trading, in conjunction with the severance from the eastern markets, would have corroded at the unsteady systems of the Bronze Age. The dire situation evidently caused by the invasion of the sea people’s solidifies invasion as a primary cause of the Bronze Age collapse.

This detrimental invasion was believed to be so damaging because of revolutions in the composition of warfare. Throughout the Bronze Age, conflict was centralized around the use of chariots, which is made evident in the Pylos tablets when they mention the purchase of at least two hundred wheels and wood for 150 axles. This evidence, supported by tablets of Knossos describing the huge field strength of Knossos's chariotry, reveals that Bronze Age warfare would have been reliant on the archers that fired from the top of horse drawn chariots. The revolution in warfare is shown in the Medinet Habu reliefs, which show the sea peoples, believed to be Tjekker warriors, carrying two javelin weapons. The presence of javelins is hugely important because it is known that a javelin thrower would easily have been able to hit the big horses attached to chariots and they themselves would have been a moving target that would have been hard to be hit by a chariots archers. By rendering chariots essentially useless, the use of the javelin ensures that the attacks from the sea peoples were effective in the…