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The Late Bronze Age collapse was a time of
societal collapse A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction In social science, a social relation or social interaction is any relationship between two or more individuals. Social relations derived from individual agenc ...
preceding the
Greek Dark Ages The Greek Dark Ages is the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locate ...
(from around 1100 BCE to the beginning of the Archaic age around 750 BCE). The collapse affected a large area covering much of
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to th ...

Southeast Europe
,
West Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hem ...
and
North Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North Africa
(comprising the overlapping regions of the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental ...
, the
Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct Amer ...

Eastern Mediterranean
and North Africa, with the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
, the
Aegean Aegean may refer to: *Aegean Sea *Aegean Islands *Aegean Region (geographical), Turkey *Aegean Region (statistical), Turkey *Aegean civilizations *Aegean languages, a group of ancient languages and proposed language family *Aegean Sea (theme), a n ...

Aegean
,
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, and the
Caucasus The Caucasus (), or Caucasia (), is a region spanning Europe and Asia. It is situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and mainly occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. It is home to ...
). It was a transition which historians believe was violent, sudden, and culturally disruptive for some civilizations during the 12th century BCE, along with a sharp economic decline of regional powers. The
palace economy A palace economy or redistribution economy is a system of economic organization in which a substantial share of the wealth flows into the control of a centralized administration, the palace, and out from there to the general population, which may b ...
of
Mycenaean Greece Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
, the Aegean region and Anatolia that characterized the Late Bronze Age disintegrated, transforming into the small isolated
village A village is a clustered human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena ...

village
cultures of the Greek Dark Ages. The
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittite Empire
of Anatolia and the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
collapsed, while states such as the
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-s ...
in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
and the
New Kingdom of Egypt New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz (South Korean band), The Boyz Albums and EPs * New (album), ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartne ...
survived but were considerably weakened. Conversely, some peoples such as the
Phoenicians Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3.0 ...

Phoenicians
enjoyed increased autonomy and power with the waning military presence of Egypt and Assyria in the Levant. Competing and even mutually incompatible theories for the ultimate cause of the Late Bronze Age collapse have been made since the 19th century. These include volcanic eruptions, droughts, invasions by the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a purported seafaring confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a f ...
or migrations of
Dorians The Dorians (; el, Δωριεῖς, ''Dōrieîs'', singular , ''Dōrieús'') were one of the four major ethnic groups into which the Greeks, Hellenes (or Greeks) of Classical Greece divided themselves (along with the Aeolians, Achaeans (tribe) ...
, economic disruptions due to the rising use of
ironworking Ferrous metallurgy is the metallurgy of iron and alloys. It began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteorite, meteoritic Iron–nickel alloy, iron-nickel. It is not kn ...
, and changes in military technology and methods of war that saw the decline of chariot warfare.


Collapse

The half-century between and 1150 BCE saw the cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, of the
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratificati ...
in Babylonia, of the
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittite Empire
in
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
and the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, and the
New Kingdom of Egypt New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created. New or NEW may refer to: Music * New, singer of K-pop group The Boyz (South Korean band), The Boyz Albums and EPs * New (album), ''New'' (album), by Paul McCartne ...
; the destruction of
Ugarit Ugarit (; uga, 𐎜𐎂𐎗𐎚, ''ʼUgart''; ar, أُوغَارِيت ''Ūġārīt'' or ''Ūǧārīt''; he, אוּגָרִית ''Ugarit'') was an ancient port city in northern Syria, in the outskirts of modern Latakia, discovered by accident ...

Ugarit
and the
Amorite states
Amorite states
in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
, the fragmentation of the Luwian states of western Anatolia, and a period of chaos in
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
. The deterioration of these governments interrupted
trade route A trade route is a Logistics, logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of water. Allowing Good (economics and accountin ...
s and severely reduced
literacy Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (p ...
in much of this area. In the first phase of this period, almost every city between
Pylos Pylos (, ; el, Πύλος), historically also known as Navarino, is a town and a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or ...

Pylos
and
Gaza Gaza may refer to: Places Palestine * Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea ** Gaza City, a city in the Gaza Strip ** Gaza Governorate, a governorate in the Gaza Strip United States * Gaza, Iowa, an ...
was violently destroyed, and many abandoned, including
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazk ...
,
Mycenae Mycenae ( ; grc, Μυκῆναι or , ''Mykē̂nai'' or ''Mykḗnē'') is an archaeological site near Mykines, Greece, Mykines in Argolis, north-eastern Peloponnese, Greece. It is located about south-west of Athens; north of Argos, Peloponne ...

Mycenae
, and Ugarit. According to
Robert Drews Robert Drews (born March 26, 1936) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known ...
, "Within a period of forty to fifty years at the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the twelfth century almost every significant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was destroyed, many of them never to be occupied again." Only a few powerful states, particularly
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of We ...

Assyria
, the New Kingdom of Egypt (albeit badly weakened), the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
n city-states and
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
survived the Bronze Age collapse. However, by the end of the 12th century BCE, Elam waned after its defeat by
Nebuchadnezzar I Nebuchadnezzar I or Nebuchadrezzar I (), r. c. 1125–1104 BC, was the fourth king of the Second Dynasty of Isin and Fourth Dynasty of Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Bab ...
, who briefly revived Babylonian fortunes before suffering a series of defeats by the Assyrians. Upon the death of
Ashur-bel-kalaAššūr-bēl-kala, inscribed m''aš-šur-''EN''-ka-la'' and meaning “ Aššur is lord of all,” was the king of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِد ...
in 1056 BCE, Assyria went into a comparative decline for the next 100 or so years, its empire shrinking significantly. By 1020 BCE, Assyria appears to have controlled only the areas in its immediate vicinity; its well-defended heartland was not threatened during the collapse. By the time of
Wenamun The Story of Wenamun (alternately known as the Report of Wenamun, The Misadventures of Wenamun, Voyage of Unamūn, or nformallyas just Wenamun) is a literary Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrow ...
, Phoenicia had regained independence from Egypt. Robert Drews describes the collapse as "the worst disaster in ancient history, even more calamitous than the
collapse of the Western Roman Empire The fall of the Western Roman Empire (also called the fall of the Roman Empire or the fall of Rome), c. 376-476, was the process of decline in the Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman ...
"./sup> Cultural memories of the disaster told of a "lost
golden age#REDIRECT Golden Age The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology, particularly the ''Works and Days'' of Hesiod, and is part of the description of temporal decline of the state of peoples through five Ages of Man, Ages, Gold being the first a ...

golden age
": for example,
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'', 'he who emits the voice') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēr ...
spoke of Ages of Gold, Silver, and Bronze, separated from the cruel modern Age of Iron by the Age of Heroes. Rodney Castleden suggests that memories of the Bronze Age collapse influenced
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
's story of
Atlantis Atlantis ( grc, Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, "island of Atlas") is a fiction Fiction generally is a narrative form, in any media (communication), medium, consisting of people, events, or places that are imagination, imaginary—in other ...

Atlantis
/sup> in '' Timaeus'' and the ''
Critias Critias (; grc-gre, Κριτίας, ''Kritias''; c. 460 – 403 BC) was an Classical Athens, ancient Athenian political figure and author. Born in Athens, Critias was the son of Callaeschrus and a first cousin of Plato's mother Perictione. He ...
''. A range of explanations for the collapse have been proposed, without any achieving consensus. Several factors probably played a part, including climatic changes (such as drought or those caused by volcanic eruptions), invasions by groups such as the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a purported seafaring confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a f ...
, the effects of the spread of iron
metallurgy Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering ''Materials Science and Engineering'' may refer to several journals in the field of materials science and engineering: * '' Materials Science and Engineering A'' * '' Materials Science ...
, developments in military weapons and tactics, and a variety of failures of political, social and economic systems.


Recovery

Gradually, by the end of the ensuing Dark Age, remnants of the Hittites coalesced into small
Syro-Hittite states The states that are called Syro-Hittite, Neo-Hittite (in older literature), or Luwian-Aramean (in modern scholarly works), were Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in presen ...
in
Cilicia Cilicia (); el, Κιλικία, ''Kilikía''; Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the litera ...

Cilicia
and the Levant, the latter states being composed of mixed Hittite and
Aramean The Arameans (Old Aramaic language, Old Aramaic: 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; Greek language, Greek: Ἀραμαῖοι; Syriac language, Syriac: ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ / Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking people in the Near East, fi ...
polities. Beginning in the mid-10th century BCE, a series of small Aramean kingdoms formed in the Levant and the
Philistines The Philistines were an ancient people who lived on the south coast of Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of th ...
settled in southern Canaan, where Canaanite speakers had coalesced into a number of defined polities such as
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...
,
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an anci ...
,
Edom Edom (; Edomite Edom (; Edomite: 𐤀𐤃𐤌 ''’Edām''; he, אֱדוֹם ''ʼÉḏōm'', lit.: "red"; akk, 𒌑𒁺𒈠𒀀𒀀 ''Uduma'') was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah Th ...

Edom
and
Ammon Ammon (Ammonite language, Ammonite: 𐤏𐤌𐤍 ''ʻAmān''; he, עַמּוֹן ''ʻAmmōn''; ar, عمّون, ʻAmmūn) was an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking nation occupying the east of the Jordan River, between the torrent ...

Ammon
. From 935 BCE, Assyria began to reorganize and once more expand outwards, leading to the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
(911–605 BCE), which came to control a vast area from the Caucasus to Egypt, and from Greek Cyprus to Persia.
Phrygians The Phrygians (Greek language, Greek: Φρύγες, ''Phruges'' or ''Phryges'') were an ancient Indo-European languages, Indo-European speaking people, who inhabited central-western Anatolia in antiquity. They were related to the Greeks. Ancient ...

Phrygians
,
Cimmerians The Cimmerians (also Kimmerians; Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
and
Lydians The Lydians (known as ''Sparda'' to the Achaemenids The Achaemenid Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, translit=Xšāça, translation=The Empire), also called the First Persian Empire, was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran ...
arrived in Anatolia and a new
Hurrian The Hurrians (; Cuneiform script, cuneiform: ; transliteration: ''Ḫu-ur-ri''; also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people of the Bronze Age Ancient Near East, Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language cal ...
polity of
Urartu Urartu () is a geographical region commonly used as the for the kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its , the Kingdom of Van, centered around in the historic . The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but went into grad ...

Urartu
formed in eastern Anatolia and
Transcaucasia The South Caucasus, also known as Transcaucasia, is a geographical region on the border of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe. There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because the term ...
, where the
Colchians In pre-Hellenistic The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium The Battle of Actium ...

Colchians
() also emerged. The Greek Dark Ages lasted roughly until the early 8th century BCE with the rise of
Archaic Greece Archaic Greece was the period in Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in ...
and
Greek colonization Greek colonization was an organised Colonies in antiquity, colonial expansion by the Archaic Greece, Archaic Greeks into the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea in the period of the 8th–6th centuries BC (750 and 550 BC). This colonization differed ...
of the Mediterranean basin during the
Orientalizing period In the Archaic Archaic is a period of time preceding a designated classical period, or something from an older period of time that is also not found or used currently: *List of archaeological periods **Archaic Sumerian language, spoken bet ...
. Soon after 1000 BCE,
Iranian peoples The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the norther ...
such as the
Persians The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups such as a common set of traditions, ancestr ...
,
Medes The Medes ( peo, 𐎶𐎠𐎭 ; akk, , ; grc, Μῆδοι ) were an Iranian peoples, ancient Iranian people who spoke the Median language and who inhabited an area known as Media (region), Media between western Iran, western and nor ...
,
ParthiansParthian may be: Historical * A demonym "of Parthia Parthia ( peo, 𐎱𐎼𐎰𐎺 ''Parθava''; xpr, 𐭐𐭓𐭕𐭅 ''Parθaw''; pal, 𐭯𐭫𐭮𐭥𐭡𐭥 ''Pahlaw'') is a historical region located in north-eastern Iran Iran ...

Parthians
and Sargatians first appeared in
ancient Iran The history of Iran, which was commonly known until the mid-20th century as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia Anato ...
. These groups displaced earlier non-Indo-European-speaking peoples such as the Kassites, Hurrians, and
Gutian people The Guti () or Quti, also known by the derived exonyms Gutians or Guteans, were a nomadic people of West Asia, around the Zagros Mountains (Modern Iran) during ancient times. Their homeland was known as Gutium (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ,''Gu-t ...
in the northwest of the region. However, the Elamites and
Mannaeans The Mannaeans (, country name usually Mannea; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''Th ...
continued to dominate the southwest and
Caspian Sea The Caspian Sea (also known as Mazandaran Sea, Hyrcanian Ocean, or Khazar Sea), tk, Hazar deňzi, az, Xəzər Dənizi, russian: Каспийское море, script=Latn, fa, دریای مازندران، دریای خزر, script=Latn, tly, ...

Caspian Sea
regions, respectively.


Regional evidence


Evidence of destruction


Anatolia

Before the Bronze Age collapse,
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
(Asia Minor) was dominated by a number of peoples of varying ethno-linguistic origins, including: Semitic-speaking Assyrians and Amorites, Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians,
Kaskians The Kaska (also Kaška, later Tabal Tabal (c.f. biblical '' Tubal'') was a Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. ...
and
Hattians The Hattians () were an ancient Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the ...
, and such as the Luwians, Hittites,
Mitanni Mitanni (; Hittite cuneiform ; ''Mittani'' '), also called Hanigalbat or Hani-Rabbat (''Hanikalbat'', ''Khanigalbat'', cuneiform ') in Assyrian or Naharin in Ancient Egypt, Egyptian texts, was a Hurrian language, Hurrian-speaking state in nor ...

Mitanni
, and Mycenaeans. From the 16th century BCE, the Mitanni, a migratory minority speaking an
Indo-Aryan language The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages form a major language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages h ...
, formed a ruling class over the Hurrians. Similarly, the Indo-European-speaking Hittites absorbed the Hattians, a people speaking a language that may have been of the non–Indo-European
North Caucasian languages The North Caucasian languages, sometimes called simply Caucasic, is a proposed language family consisting of a pair of well established Language family, language families spoken in the Caucasus, predominantly in North Caucasus, the north, consist ...
or a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families with any other languages. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most commonly cited language isolates, but there are many others. ...
. Every Anatolian site, apart from integral Assyrian regions in the southeast and regions in eastern, central and southern Anatolia under the control of the powerful
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-s ...
(1392–1050 BCE) that was important during the preceding Late Bronze Age, shows a destruction layer and it appears that in these regions civilization did not recover to the level of the Assyrians and Hittites for another thousand years or so. The Hittites, already weakened by a series of military defeats and annexations of their territory by the Middle Assyrian Empire, which had already destroyed the Hurrian-Mitanni Empire, then suffered a
coup de grâce A ''coup de grâce'' (; 'blow of mercy') is a death blow to end the suffering of a severely wounded person or animal. It may be a mercy killing of mortally wounded civilians or soldiers, friends or enemies, with or without the sufferer's consent ...
when
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazk ...
, the Hittite capital, was burned, probably by the Kaskians, long indigenous to the southern shores of the
Black Sea , with the skyline of Batumi Batumi (; ka, ბათუმი ) is the second largest city of Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country locat ...

Black Sea
, possibly aided by the incoming Indo-European–speaking
Phrygians The Phrygians (Greek language, Greek: Φρύγες, ''Phruges'' or ''Phryges'') were an ancient Indo-European languages, Indo-European speaking people, who inhabited central-western Anatolia in antiquity. They were related to the Greeks. Ancient ...

Phrygians
. The city was abandoned and never reoccupied. Karaoğlan, near present-day
Ankara Ankara, historically known as Ancyra and Angora, is the list of national capitals, capital of Turkey. Located in the Central Anatolia Region, central part of Anatolia, the city has a population of 4.5 million in its urban centre and over ...

Ankara
, was burned and the corpses left unburied. Many other sites that were not destroyed were abandoned. The Luwian city of
Troy Troy (Greek language, Greek: Τροία) or Ilium (Greek language, Greek: Ίλιον) was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in present-day Turkey, south-west of Çanakkale. It is known as the setting for the Greek mythology, Greek myth of the ...

Troy
was destroyed at least twice, before being abandoned until Roman times; it is famous as the site of the
Trojan War In Greek mythology, the Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Achaeans (Homer), Achaeans (Greeks) after Paris (mythology), Paris of Troy took Helen of Troy, Helen from her husband Menelaus, king of Sparta. The war is one of the ...
. The Phrygians had arrived, probably over the
Bosporus File:Bosphorus aerial view.jpg, Aerial view of the Bosporus taken from its northern end near the Black Sea (bottom), looking south (top) toward the Marmara Sea, with the city center of Istanbul visible along the strait's hilly banks. The Bosp ...

Bosporus
or Caucasus Mountains, in the 13th century BCE, before being first stopped by the Assyrians and then conquered by them in the Early Iron Age of the 12th century BCE. Other groups of Indo-European peoples followed the Phrygians into the region, most prominently the
Dorians The Dorians (; el, Δωριεῖς, ''Dōrieîs'', singular , ''Dōrieús'') were one of the four major ethnic groups into which the Greeks, Hellenes (or Greeks) of Classical Greece divided themselves (along with the Aeolians, Achaeans (tribe) ...
and Lydians, and in the centuries after the period of Bronze Age Collapse, Cimmerians and the Iranian-speaking Scythians also appeared. Semitic-speaking Arameans and Kartvelian-speaking Colchians, and revived Hurrian polities, particularly Urartu,
Nairi Nairi (Armenian language, Armenian: Նայիրի in Traditional Armenian Orthography, TAO or Նաիրի in Reformed Armenian Orthography, RAO) was the Akkadian language, Akkadian name (KUR.KUR ''Na-i-ri'', also ''Na-'i-ru'') for a confederation o ...
and
Shupria Shupria or Shubria hy, Շուպրիա; Akkadian language, Akkadian was a Hurrian kingdom, known from Assyrian sources from the 13th century BC onward, in what is the Armenian Highlands, to the south-west of Lake Van, bordering Urartu. The capital w ...
, also emerged in parts of the region and Transcaucasia. The Assyrians simply continued their already extant policies, by conquering any of these new peoples and polities they came into contact with, as they had with the preceding polities of the region. However, Assyria gradually withdrew from much of the region for a time in the second half of the 11th century BCE, although they continued to campaign militarily at times, in order to protect their borders and keep trade routes open, until a renewed vigorous period of expansion in the late 10th century BCE. These sites in Anatolia show evidence of the collapse: *
Troy Troy (Greek language, Greek: Τροία) or Ilium (Greek language, Greek: Ίλιον) was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in present-day Turkey, south-west of Çanakkale. It is known as the setting for the Greek mythology, Greek myth of the ...

Troy
*
Miletus Miletus (; gr, Μῑ́λητος, Mīlētos; Hittite language, Hittite transcription ''Millawanda'' or ''Milawata'' (Exonym and endonym, exonyms); la, Miletus; tr, Milet) was an Ancient Greece, ancient Greek city on the western coast of Ana ...
*
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'', Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazk ...
*
Mersin Mersin () is a large city and a port on the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey. As of the last 2020 estimation, the Metropolitan Province population was 1,868,757 inhabitants whom 1.050.301 lived in the built-up (or metro ...
*
TarḫuntaššaTarḫuntašša ( ''dIM-ta-aš-ša'' "City of Tarhunt"; Hieroglyphic Luwian Hieroglyphic Luwian (''luwili'') is a variant of the Luwian language Luwian , sometimes known as Luvian or Luish, is an ancient language, or group of languages, within th ...


Cyprus

The catastrophe separates Prehistoric Cyprus, Late Cypriot II (LCII) from the LCIII period, with the sacking and burning of Enkomi, Kition, and Sinta, Cyprus, Sinda, which may have occurred twice before those sites were abandoned. During the reign of the Hittite king Tudḫaliya IV (reigned c. 1237–1209 BCE), the island was briefly invaded by the Hittites, either to secure the copper resource or as a way of preventing piracy. Shortly afterwards, the island was reconquered by his son Suppiluliuma II around 1200 BCE. Some towns (Enkomi, Kition, Palaeokastro and Sinda) show traces of destruction at the end of LCII. Whether or not this is really an indication of a Mycenean invasion is contested. Originally, two waves of destruction in c. 1230 BCE by the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a purported seafaring confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a f ...
and c. 1190 BCE by Aegean Sea, Aegean refugees have been proposed. Alashiya was plundered by the Sea Peoples and ceased to exist in 1085 BCE. The smaller settlements of Agios Dimitrios and Kokkinokremmos, as well as a number of other sites, were abandoned but do not show traces of destruction. Kokkinokremmos was a short-lived settlement, where various caches concealed by metalsmiths have been found. That no one ever returned to reclaim the treasures suggests that they were killed or enslaved. Recovery occurred only in the Early Iron Age with Phoenician and Greek settlement. These sites in Cyprus show evidence of the collapse: * Palaeokastro * Kition * Sinda * Enkomi


Syria

Ancient Syria had been initially dominated by a number of indigenous Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking peoples. The East Semitic-speaking polities of Ebla, the Akkadian Empire and the Northwest Semitic-speaking people of Ugarit and the Amorites ("Amurru") were prominent among them. Syria during this time was known as "The land of the Amurru". Before and during the Bronze Age Collapse, Syria became a battleground between the Hittites, the Middle Assyrian Empire, the Mitanni and the New Kingdom of Egypt between the 15th and late 13th centuries BCE, with the Assyrians destroying the Hurri-Mitanni empire and annexing much of the Hittite empire. The Egyptian empire had withdrawn from the region after failing to overcome the Hittites and being fearful of the ever-growing Assyrian might, leaving much of the region under Assyrian control until the late 11th century BCE. Later the coastal regions came under attack from the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a purported seafaring confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a f ...
. During this period, from the 12th century BCE, the incoming Northwest Semitic-speaking Arameans came to demographic prominence in Syria, the region outside of the Canaanite-speaking
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
n coastal areas eventually came to speak Aramaic and the region came to be known as Aramea and Eber Nari. The Babylonians belatedly attempted to gain a foothold in the region during their brief revival under
Nebuchadnezzar I Nebuchadnezzar I or Nebuchadrezzar I (), r. c. 1125–1104 BC, was the fourth king of the Second Dynasty of Isin and Fourth Dynasty of Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Bab ...
in the 12th century BCE; however, they too were overcome by their Assyrian neighbors. The modern term "Syria" is a later Indo-European corruption of "Assyria", which only became formally applied to the Levant during the Seleucid Empire (323–150 BCE) (see Etymology of Syria). Levantine sites previously showed evidence of trade links with
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in th ...

Mesopotamia
(Sumer, Akkad (region), Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia),
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
(Hattia, Hurria, Luwia and later the Hittites), Egypt and the
Aegean Aegean may refer to: *Aegean Sea *Aegean Islands *Aegean Region (geographical), Turkey *Aegean Region (statistical), Turkey *Aegean civilizations *Aegean languages, a group of ancient languages and proposed language family *Aegean Sea (theme), a n ...

Aegean
in the Late Bronze Age. Evidence at Ugarit shows that the destruction there occurred after the reign of Merneptah (r. 1213–1203 BCE) and even the fall of Chancellor Bay (d. 1192 BCE). The last Bronze Age king of Ugarit, Ammurapi, was a contemporary of the last-known Hittite king, Suppiluliuma II. The exact dates of his reign are unknown. A letter by the king is preserved on one of the clay tablets found baked in the conflagration of the destruction of the city. Ammurapi stresses the seriousness of the crisis faced by many Levantine states due to attacks. In response to a plea for assistance from the king of Alasiya, Ammurapi highlights the desperate situation Ugarit faced in letter RS 18.147: Eshuwara, the senior governor of Cyprus, responded in letter RS 20.18: The ruler of Carchemish sent troops to assist Ugarit, but Ugarit was sacked. Letter RS 19.011 (KTU 2.61) sent from Ugarit following the destruction said: This quote is frequently interpreted as "the degraded one ..." referring to the army being humiliated, destroyed, or both. The letter is also quoted with the final statement "Mayst thou know it"/"May you know it" repeated twice for effect in several later sources, while no such repetition appears to occur in the original. The destruction levels of Ugarit contained Late Helladic IIIB ware, but no LH IIIC (see
Mycenaean Greece Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
). Therefore, the date of the destruction is important for the dating of the LH IIIC phase. Since an Egyptian sword bearing the name of Pharaoh Merneptah was found in the destruction levels, 1190 BCE was taken as the date for the beginning of the LH IIIC. A cuneiform tablet found in 1986 shows that Ugarit was destroyed after the death of Merneptah. It is generally agreed that Ugarit had already been destroyed by the 8th year of Ramesses III, 1178 BCE. Letters on clay tablets that were baked in the conflagration caused by the destruction of the city speak of attack from the sea, and a letter from Alashiya (Cyprus) speaks of cities already being destroyed by attackers who came by sea. The West Semitic languages, West Semitic Arameans eventually superseded the earlier Amorites and people of Ugarit. The Arameans, together with the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
ns and the Syro-Hittite states came to dominate most of the region demographically; however, these people, and the Levant in general, were also conquered and dominated politically and militarily by the Middle Assyrian Empire until Assyria's withdrawal in the late 11th century BCE, although the Assyrians continued to conduct military campaigns in the region. However, with the rise of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
in the late 10th century BCE, the entire region once again fell to Assyria. These sites in Syria show evidence of the collapse: *
Ugarit Ugarit (; uga, 𐎜𐎂𐎗𐎚, ''ʼUgart''; ar, أُوغَارِيت ''Ūġārīt'' or ''Ūǧārīt''; he, אוּגָרִית ''Ugarit'') was an ancient port city in northern Syria, in the outskirts of modern Latakia, discovered by accident ...

Ugarit
* Tell Sukas * Kadesh (Syria), Kadesh * Qatna * Hama * Alalakh * Aleppo * Emar


Southern Levant

Egyptian evidence shows that from the reign of Horemheb (ruled either 1319 or 1306 to 1292 BCE), wandering Shasu were more problematic than the earlier Apiru. Ramesses II (r. 1279–1213 BCE) campaigned against them, pursuing them as far as
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'aba'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'ba'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an anci ...
, where he established a fortress, after a near defeat at the Battle of Kadesh. During the reign of Merneptah, the Shasu threatened the "Via Maris, Way of Horus" north from Gaza. Evidence shows that Deir Alla (Sukkot (place), Succoth) was destroyed after the reign of Queen Twosret (r. 1191–1189 BCE).Tubbs, Johnathan (1998), "Canaanites" (British Museum Press) The destroyed site of Lachish was briefly reoccupied by squatters and an Egyptian garrison, during the reign of Ramesses III (r. 1186–1155 BCE). All centres along a coastal route from
Gaza Gaza may refer to: Places Palestine * Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea ** Gaza City, a city in the Gaza Strip ** Gaza Governorate, a governorate in the Gaza Strip United States * Gaza, Iowa, an ...
northward were destroyed, and evidence shows Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Acre, Israel, Acre, and Jaffa were burned and not reoccupied for up to thirty years. Inland Tel Hazor, Hazor, Bethel, Beit Shemesh, Eglon, Canaan, Eglon, Debir, and other sites were destroyed. Refugees escaping the collapse of coastal centres may have fused with incoming nomadic and Anatolian elements to begin the growth of terraced hillside hamlets in the highlands region that was associated with the later development of the Hebrews. During the reign of Rameses III,
Philistines The Philistines were an ancient people who lived on the south coast of Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of th ...
were allowed to resettle the coastal strip from Gaza to Joppa, Denyen (possibly the tribe of Dan in the Bible, or more likely the people of Adana, also known as Danuna, part of the Hittite Empire) settled from Jaffa, Joppa to Acre, Israel, Acre, and Tjekker in Acre. The sites quickly achieved independence, as the ''Tale of Wenamun'' shows. These sites in the Southern Levant show evidence of the collapse: * Tel Hazor, Hazor * Akko * Tel Megiddo, Megiddo * Deir 'Alla (Sukkot (place), Sukkot) * Bethel * Beth Shemesh * Lachish * Ashdod * Ashkelon


Greece

None of the Mycenaean palaces of the Late Bronze Age survived (with the possible exception of the Cyclopean fortifications on the Acropolis of Athens), with destruction being heaviest at palaces and fortified sites. Thebes was one of the earliest examples of this, having its palace sacked repeatedly between 1300 and 1200 BCE and eventually being completely destroyed by fire. The extent of this destruction is highlighted by Robert Drews who reasons that the destruction was such that Thebes did not resume a significant position in Greece until at least the late 12th century. Many other sites offer less conclusive causes; for example it is entirely unclear what happened at Athens, although it is clear that the settlement saw a significant decline during the Bronze Age Collapse. While there is no evidence of any significant destruction at this site, lacking the remnants of a destroyed palace or central structure, the change in locations of living quarters and burial sites demonstrates a significant recession clearly. Furthermore, an increase in fortification at this site is suggestive of much fear of the decline in Athens to the extent that Vincent Desborough makes an assertion that this is evidence of later migrations away from the city in reaction to its initial decline, although a significant population did remain. It is possible though that this emigration from Athens was not a violent affair and other causes have been suggested. Nancy Demand posits that environmental changes could have played a significant role in the collapse of Athens. In particular Demand notes the presence of "enclosed and protected means of access to water sources at Athens" as evidence of persistent droughts in the region that could have resulted in a fragile reliance on imports. Up to 90% of small sites in the Peloponnese were abandoned, suggesting a major depopulation. Again, as with many of the sites of destruction in Greece, it is unclear how a lot of this destruction came about. The city of Mycenae for example was initially destroyed in an earthquake in 1250 BCE as evidenced by the presence of crushed bodies buried in collapsed buildings. However, the site was rebuilt only to face destruction in 1190 BCE as the result of a series of major fires. There is a suggestion by Robert Drews that the fires could have been the result of an attack on the site and its palace; however, Eric H. Cline, Eric Cline points out the lack of archaeological evidence for an attack. Thus, while fire was definitely the cause of the destruction, it is unclear what or who caused it. A similar situation occurred Tiryns in 1200 BCE, when an earthquake destroyed much of the city including its palace. It is likely however that the city continued to be inhabited for some time following the earthquake. As a result, there is a general agreement that earthquakes did not permanently destroy Mycenae or Tiryns because, as is highlighted by Guy Middleton, "Physical destruction then cannot fully explain the collapse". Drews points out that there was continued occupation at these sites, accompanied by attempts to rebuild, demonstrating the continuation of Tiryns as a settlement. Demand suggests instead that the cause could again be environmental, particularly the lack of homegrown food and the important role of palaces in managing and storing food imports, implying that their destruction only stood to exacerbate the more crucial factor of food shortage. The importance of trade as a factor is supported by Spyros Iakovidis, who points out the lack of evidence for violent or sudden decline in Mycenae. Pylos offers some more clues to its destruction, as the intensive and extensive destruction by fire around 1180 is reflective of a violent destruction of the city. There is some evidence of Pylos expecting a seaborne attack, with tablets at Pylos discussing "Watchers guarding the coast". Eric Cline refutes the idea that this is evidence of an attack by Sea People, pointing out that the tablet does not give any context as to what is being watched for and why. Cline does not see naval attacks as playing a role in Pylos's decline. Demand, however, argues that, regardless of what the threat from the sea was, it likely played a role in the decline, at least in hindering trade and perhaps vital food imports. The Bronze Age collapse marked the start of what has been called the
Greek Dark Ages The Greek Dark Ages is the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locate ...
, which lasted roughly 400 years and ended with the establishment of
Archaic Greece Archaic Greece was the period in Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in ...
. Other cities, such as Athens, continued to be occupied, but with a more local sphere of influence, limited evidence of trade and an impoverished culture, from which it took centuries to recover. These sites in Greece show evidence of the collapse: * Teichos Dymaion (:el:Τείχος Δυμαίων, el) *
Pylos Pylos (, ; el, Πύλος), historically also known as Navarino, is a town and a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having Municipal corporation, corporate status and powers of self-government or ...

Pylos
* Nichoria * Menelaion * Tiryns *
Mycenae Mycenae ( ; grc, Μυκῆναι or , ''Mykē̂nai'' or ''Mykḗnē'') is an archaeological site near Mykines, Greece, Mykines in Argolis, north-eastern Peloponnese, Greece. It is located about south-west of Athens; north of Argos, Peloponne ...

Mycenae
* Thebes, Greece, Thebes * Lefkandi * Iolkos * Knossos * Kydonia


Areas that survived


Mesopotamia

The
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire is the period in the history of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-s ...
(1392–1056 BCE) had destroyed the Hurrian-Mitanni Empire, annexed much of the
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittite Empire
and eclipsed the Egyptian Empire, and at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age collapse controlled an empire stretching from the Caucasus mountains in the north to the Arabian peninsula in the south, and from Ancient Iran in the east to Cyprus in the west. However, in the 12th century BCE, Assyrian satrapies in
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
came under attack from the Mushki (who may have been
Phrygians The Phrygians (Greek language, Greek: Φρύγες, ''Phruges'' or ''Phryges'') were an ancient Indo-European languages, Indo-European speaking people, who inhabited central-western Anatolia in antiquity. They were related to the Greeks. Ancient ...

Phrygians
), and those in the Levant from Arameans, but Tiglath-Pileser I (reigned 1114–1076 BCE) was able to defeat and repel these attacks, conquering the incomers. The Middle Assyrian Empire survived intact throughout much of this period, with Assyria dominating and often ruling Babylonia directly, controlling south east and south western
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, north western Iran and much of northern and central Syria and
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
, as far as the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean and Cyprus.Georges Roux, ''Ancient Iraq'' The Arameans and
Phrygians The Phrygians (Greek language, Greek: Φρύγες, ''Phruges'' or ''Phryges'') were an ancient Indo-European languages, Indo-European speaking people, who inhabited central-western Anatolia in antiquity. They were related to the Greeks. Ancient ...

Phrygians
were subjected, and Assyria and its colonies were not threatened by the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a purported seafaring confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a f ...
who had ravaged Egypt and much of the East Mediterranean, and the Assyrians often conquered as far as
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsWordNet Search – 3 ...
and the East Mediterranean. However, after the death of
Ashur-bel-kalaAššūr-bēl-kala, inscribed m''aš-šur-''EN''-ka-la'' and meaning “ Aššur is lord of all,” was the king of Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِد ...
in 1056 BCE, Assyria withdrew to areas close to its natural borders, encompassing what is today northern Iraq, north-east Syria, the fringes of north-west Iran, and south-eastern Turkey. Assyria still retained a stable monarchy, the best army in the world, and an efficient civil administration, enabling it to survive the Bronze Age Collapse intact. Assyrian written records remained numerous and the most consistent in the world during the period, and the Assyrians were still able to mount long range military campaigns in all directions when necessary. From the late 10th century BCE, it once more began to assert itself internationally, with the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire (Assyrian cuneiform Assyrian may refer to: * Assyria, a major Mesopotamian kingdom and empire * Assyrian people, an ethnic group indigenous to the Middle East * Assyrian Church (disambiguation) * Assyrian language (disam ...

Neo-Assyrian Empire
growing to be the largest the world had yet seen. The situation in Babylonia was very different. After the Assyrian withdrawal, it was still subject to periodic Assyrian (and Elamite) subjugation, and new groups of Semitic speakers such as the Aramaeans and Suteans (and in the period after the Bronze Age Collapse, Chaldeans also) spread unchecked into Babylonia from the Levant, and the power of its weak kings barely extended beyond the city limits of Babylon. Babylon was sacked by the
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
ites under Shutruk-Nahhunte (c. 1185–1155 BCE), and lost control of the Diyala River valley to Assyria.


Egypt

While it survived the Bronze Age collapse, the Egyptian Empire of the New Kingdom of Egypt, New Kingdom era receded considerably in territorial and economic strength during the mid-twelfth century BCE (during the reign of Ramesses VI, 1145 to 1137 BCE). Previously, the Merneptah Stele (c. 1200 BCE) spoke of attacks (Libyan War) from Putrians (from modern Libya), with associated people of Achaeans (Homer), Ekwesh, Sea Peoples, Shekelesh, Lukka lands, Lukka, Sherden, Shardana and Tyrrhenians, Teresh (possibly Troy, Troas), and a Canaanite revolt, in the cities of Ashkelon, Yenoam and among the people of Israel. A second attack (Battle of the Delta and Battle of Djahy) during the reign of Ramesses III (1186–1155 BCE) involved Philistines, Peleset, Tjeker, Sherden, Shardana and Denyen. The Nubian War, the First Libyan War, the Northern War and the Second Libyan War were all victories for Ramses. Due to this, however, the economy of Egypt fell into decline and state treasuries were nearly bankrupt. By defeating the Sea People, Libyans, and Nubians, the territory around Egypt was safe during the collapse of the Bronze Age, but military campaigns in Asia depleted the economy. With his victory over the Syrians, Ramesses III stated, "My sword is great and mighty like that of Montu. No land can stand fast before my arms. I am a king rejoicing in slaughter. My reign is calmed in peace." With this claim, Ramses implicated that his reign was safe in the wake of the Bronze Age collapse.


Possible causes

Various theories have been put forward as possible contributors to the collapse, many of them mutually compatible.


Environmental


Volcanoes

Some Egyptologists have dated the Hekla 3 eruption, Hekla 3 volcanic eruption in Iceland to 1159 BC, 1159 BCE, and blamed it for famines under Ramesses III during the wider Bronze Age collapse. The event is thought to have caused a volcanic winter. Other estimated dates for the Hekla 3 eruption range from 1021 BCE (±130) to 1135 BCE (±130) and 929 BCE (±34). Other scholars have held off on this dispute, preferring the neutral and vague "3000 Before Present, BP".


Drought

Speculation that drought was a cause in the collapse of the Late Bronze Age has been targeted in research studies. During what may have been the driest era of the Late Bronze Age, the tree cover around the Mediterranean forest dwindled during the period. Primary sources report that the era was marked by large-scale migration of people at the end of the Late Bronze Age. Scientists state that the contraction of the Mediterranean forest was because of drought and not due to an increase in the domestication and clearing of land for agricultural purposes. In the Dead Sea region (Palestine, Israel and Jordan), the subsurface water level dropped by more than 50 meters. According to the geography of that region, for water levels to drop so drastically the amount of rain the surrounding mountains received would have been dismal. In addition to the spread of drought across the region, drought in the Nile Valley has been thought to also be a contributing factor to the rise of the Sea Peoples and their sudden migration across the eastern Mediterranean. It was suspected that these crop failures, famine and the population reduction that resulted from the lackluster flow of the Nile and the migration of the Sea Peoples led to New Kingdom Egypt falling into political instability at the end of the Late Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age. Using the Palmer Drought Index for 35 Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern weather stations, it was shown that a drought of the kind that persisted from January 1972 AD would have affected all of the sites associated with the Late Bronze Age collapse. Drought could have easily precipitated or hastened socioeconomic problems and led to wars. In 2012 it was suggested that the diversion of midwinter storms from the Atlantic to north of the Pyrenees and the Alps, bringing wetter conditions to Central Europe but drought to the Eastern Mediterranean, was associated with the Late Bronze Age collapse.


Cultural


Ironworking

The Bronze Age collapse may be seen in the context of a technological history that saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of
ironworking Ferrous metallurgy is the metallurgy of iron and alloys. It began far back in prehistory. The earliest surviving iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteorite, meteoritic Iron–nickel alloy, iron-nickel. It is not kn ...
technology in the region, beginning with precocious ironworking in present-day Bulgaria and Romania in the 13th and 12th centuries BCE. Leonard R. Palmer suggested that iron (material), iron, superior to bronze for weapons manufacturing, was in more plentiful supply and so allowed larger armies of iron users to overwhelm the smaller bronze-equipped armies that consisted largely of Maryannu chariotry.


Changes in warfare

Robert Drews argues for the appearance of massed infantry, using newly developed weapons and armour, such as Casting (metalworking), cast rather than Forging, forged spearheads and Bronze Age sword#Europe, long swords, a revolutionizing cut-and-thrust weapon, and javelins. The appearance of bronze foundries suggests "that mass production of bronze artefacts was suddenly important in the Aegean". For example, Homer uses "spears" as a metonymy, virtual synonym for "warriors". Such new weaponry, in the hands of large numbers of "running skirmishers", who could swarm and cut down a chariot army, would destabilize states that were based upon the use of chariots by the ruling class. That would precipitate an abrupt social collapse as raiders began to conquer, loot and burn cities.


General systems collapse

A general systems collapse has been put forward as an explanation for the reversals in culture that occurred between the Urnfield culture of the 12th and 13th centuries BCE and the rise of the Celtic Hallstatt culture in the 9th and 10th centuries BCE. General systems collapse theory, pioneered by Joseph Tainter, proposes that
societal collapse A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction In social science, a social relation or social interaction is any relationship between two or more individuals. Social relations derived from individual agenc ...
results from an increase in social complexity beyond a sustainable level, leading people to revert to simpler ways of life. In the specific context of the Middle East, a variety of factorsincluding population growth, soil retrogression and degradation, soil degradation, drought, cast bronze weapon and iron production technologiescould have combined to push the relative price of weaponry (compared to arable land) to a level unsustainable for traditional warrior aristocracies. In complex societies that were increasingly fragile and less resilient, the combination of factors may have contributed to the collapse. The growing complexity and specialization of the Late Bronze Age political, economic, and social organization in Carol Thomas and Craig Conant's phrase together made the organization of civilization too intricate to reestablish piecewise when disrupted. That could explain why the collapse was so widespread and able to render the Bronze Age civilizations incapable of recovery. The critical flaws of the Late Bronze Age are its centralization, specialization, complexity, and top-heavy political structure. These flaws then were exposed by sociopolitical events (revolt of peasantry and defection of mercenaries), fragility of all kingdoms (Mycenaean, Hittite, Ugaritic, and Egyptian), demographic crises (overpopulation), and wars between states. Other factors that could have placed increasing pressure on the fragile kingdoms include piracy by the Sea Peoples interrupting maritime trade, as well as drought, crop failure, famine, or the Dorian invasion, Dorian migration or invasion.Cline, Eric H. (2014). "1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed". Princeton University Press.


See also

*
Greek Dark Ages The Greek Dark Ages is the period of Greek history The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern nation-state of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country locate ...
period following the Late Bronze Age collapse * Iron Age Cold Epoch * Middle Bronze Age migrations (ancient Near East) * Migration Periodsimilar period preceding the Early Middle Ages * Third Intermediate Period of Egypta similar period in Egypt


Notes


References


Further reading

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External links

* *NPR Throughline podcast
The Aftermath of Collapse: Bronze Age Edition (2021)
{{DEFAULTSORT:Bronze Age Collapse Late Bronze Age collapse, Ancient Near East Bronze Age, Collapse Bronze Age Asia 12th century BC Indo-European history Iron Age Prehistoric Asia Societal collapse Dark ages Volcanic winters