300-year drought frames Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age transition in the Near East: new palaeoecological data from Cyprus and Syria

We focus on this pivotal period, coupling new palaeoenvironmental data and radiocarbon dates from Syria and Cyprus, to probe whether climate change accelerated changes in the Eastern Mediterranean’s Old World, by inducing crop failures/low harvests, possibly engendering severe food shortages and even famine

David Kaniewski; Nick Marriner; Joachim Bretschneider; Greta Jans; Christophe Morhange; Rachid Cheddadi; Thierry Otto; Frédéric Luce; Elise Van Campo

2019

Scholarcy highlights

  • In Eastern Mediterranean history, 1200 BCE is a symbolic date
  • Recent studies have suggested that a centuries-long drought, of regional scale, termed the 3.2 ka BP event, could be one of the motors behind this spiral of decline. We focus on this pivotal period, coupling new palaeoenvironmental data and radiocarbon dates from Syria and Cyprus, to probe whether climate change accelerated changes in the Eastern Mediterranean’s Old World, by inducing crop failures/low harvests, possibly engendering severe food shortages and even famine
  • We show that the Late Bronze Age crisis and the following Dark Ages were framed by an ~ 300-year drought episode that significantly impacted crop yields and may have led to famine
  • Our data underline the agro-productive sensitivity of ancient Mediterranean societies to environmental changes, as well as the potential link between adverse climate pressures and harvest/famine

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