Late Bronze Age collapse
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The Late Bronze Age collapse was a time of widespread
societal collapse Societal collapse (also known as civilizational collapse) is the fall of a complex human society characterized by the loss of cultural identity and of socioeconomic complexity, the downfall of government, and the rise of violence. Possible causes ...
during the 12th century BC, between c. 1200 and 1150. The collapse affected a large area of the
Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the East, eastern approximate One half, half, or third, of the Mediterranean Sea, often defined as the countries around the Levantine Sea. It typically embraces all of that sea's coastal zones, refe ...
(
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 t ...
and
Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe (SEE) is a geographical subregion of Europe, consisting primarily of the Balkans. Sovereign states and territories that are included in the region are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia (al ...
) and the
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
, in particular
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
, eastern Libya, the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographical area in southeastern Europe with various geographical and historical definitions. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the who ...

Balkans
, the
Aegean
Aegean
,
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
, and the
Caucasus The Caucasus () or Caucasia (), is a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, mainly comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (country), Georgia, and parts of Southern Russia. The Caucasus Mountains, including the Greater Caucasus range ...
. It was sudden, violent, and culturally disruptive for many
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of ...
civilizations, and it brought a sharp economic decline to regional powers, notably ushering in the
Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of History of Greece, Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean civilization, Mycenaean palatial civilization, around 1100 BC, to the beginning of the Archaic Greece, Archaic age, around 750 ...
. The palace economy 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 The Aegean Region () is one of the 7 Geographical regions of Turkey, geographical regions of Turkey. The largest city in the region is İzmir. Other big cities are Manisa, Aydın, Denizli, Muğla, Afyonkarahisar and Kütahya. Located in w ...
, and
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
that characterized the Late Bronze Age disintegrated, transforming into the small isolated
village A village is a clustered human settlement or Residential community, community, larger than a hamlet (place), hamlet but smaller than a town (although the word is often used to describe both hamlets and smaller towns), with a population t ...

village
cultures of the Greek Dark Ages, which lasted from around 1100 to the beginning of the better-known Archaic age around 750 BC. The
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara (before 1750 BC), then the Kültepe , Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centere ...

Hittite Empire
of Anatolia and the
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...

Levant
collapsed, while states such as the
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire was the third stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of Assyria from the accession of Ashur-uballit I 1363 BC and the rise of Assyria as a territorial kingdom to the death of Ashur-dan II in 912 BC. ...
in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...

Mesopotamia
and the
New Kingdom of Egypt The New Kingdom, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian History of Ancient Egypt, history between the sixteenth century BC and the eleventh century BC, covering the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Eighteenth, Ni ...
survived but were weakened. Conversely, some peoples such as the
Phoenicians Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...

Phoenicians
enjoyed increased autonomy and power with the waning military presence of
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...

Egypt
and
Assyria Assyria (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , romanized: ''māt Aššur''; syc, ܐܬܘܪ, ʾāthor) was a major ancient Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian civilization which existed as a city-state from the 21st century BC to the 14th century BC, then to a terr ...
in the Eastern Mediterranean and
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...

Mesopotamia
. The reason why the arbitrary date 1200 BC acts as the beginning of the end of the Late Bronze Age goes back to one German historian, Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren. In one of his histories on ancient Greece from 1817, Heeren stated that the first period of Greek prehistory ended around 1200 BC, basing this date on the fall of Troy at 1190 after ten years of war. He then went on in 1826 to date the end of the Egyptian 19th Dynasty as well to around 1200 BC. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century A.D. other events were then subsumed into the year 1200 BC including the invasion of the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a hypothesized seafaring confederation that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Mediterranean prior to and during the Late Bronze Age collapse (1200–900 Common Era, BCE).. Quote: ...
, the Dorian invasion, the fall of Mycenaean Greece, and eventually in 1896 the first mention of Israel in the southern Levant recorded on the
Merneptah Stele The Merneptah Stele, also known as the Israel Stele or the Victory Stele of Merneptah, is an inscription by Merneptah Merneptah or Merenptah (reigned July or August 1213 BC – May 2, 1203 BC) was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty ...
. Competing theories of the cause of the Late Bronze Age collapse have been proposed since the 19th century. These include volcanic eruptions, droughts, disease, invasions by the Sea Peoples or migrations of the Dorians, economic disruptions due to increased
ironworking Ferrous metallurgy is the metallurgy of iron and its alloys. The earliest surviving prehistory, prehistoric iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteorite, meteoritic Iron–nickel alloy, iron-nickel. It is not know ...
, and changes in
military technology Military technology is the application of technology for use in warfare. It comprises the kinds of technology that are distinctly military in nature and not civilian in application, usually because they lack useful or legal civilian application ...
and methods that brought the decline of chariot warfare. Following the collapse, gradual changes in metallurgic technology led to the subsequent
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) and the Bronze Age (Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostly appl ...
across
Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it spans from the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Ja ...

Eurasia
and
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area ...
during the 1st millennium BC.


Collapse

The half century between and 1150 BCE saw the cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, the
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
in
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
, the
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara (before 1750 BC), then the Kültepe , Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centere ...

Hittite Empire
in
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
and the
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...

Levant
, and the
New Kingdom of Egypt The New Kingdom, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian History of Ancient Egypt, history between the sixteenth century BC and the eleventh century BC, covering the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Eighteenth, Ni ...
, as well as the destruction of
Ugarit Ugarit (; uga, 𐎜𐎂𐎗𐎚, ''ʾUgarītu''; ar, أُوغَارِيت ''Ūġārīt'' or ''Ūǧārīt'') was an ancient port city in northern Syria, in the outskirts of modern Latakia, discovered by accident in 1928 together with the Ugariti ...

Ugarit
and the
Amorite states
Amorite states
in the
Levant The Levant () is an approximation, approximate historical geography, historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology an ...

Levant
, the fragmentation of the Luwian states of western Anatolia, and a period of chaos in
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...

Canaan
. The deterioration of these governments interrupted
trade route A trade route is a 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 goods to reach distant markets, a si ...
s and led to severely reduced
literacy Literacy in its broadest sense describes "particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing" with the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in Writing, written form in some specific context of use. In other wo ...

literacy
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 Communities and Municipalities of Greece, municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese (region), Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it has ...

Pylos
and
Gaza
Gaza
was violently destroyed, and many were abandoned, including
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'',Turkish language, Turkish: Hattuşaş ,Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze ...
,
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 historian who is Professor of Classical Studies Emeritus at Vanderbilt University Vanderbilt University (informally Vandy or VU) is a private university, private research university in Nashvill ...
, "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 survived the Bronze Age collapse, particularly
Assyria Assyria (Neo-Assyrian cuneiform: , romanized: ''māt Aššur''; syc, ܐܬܘܪ, ʾāthor) was a major ancient Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian civilization which existed as a city-state from the 21st century BC to the 14th century BC, then to a terr ...

Assyria
(albeit temporarily weakened), the New Kingdom of Egypt (also weakened), the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
n city-states and
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...

Elam
. Even among these comparative survivors, success was mixed. By the end of the 12th century, Elam waned after its defeat by
Nebuchadnezzar I Nebuchadnezzar I or Nebuchadrezzar I (), reigned 1121–1100 BC, was the fourth king of the Second Dynasty of Isin and Fourth Dynasty of Babylon. He ruled for 22 years according to the ''Babylonian King List C'', and was the most prominent monarc ...
, who briefly revived Babylonian fortunes before suffering a series of defeats by the Assyrians. After the death of
Ashur-bel-kala Aššūr-bēl-kala, inscribed m''aš-šur-''EN''-ka-la'' and meaning “Ashur (god), Aššur is lord of all,” was the king of Assyria 1074/3–1056 BC, the 89th to appear on the ''Assyrian Kinglist''. He was the son of Tiglath-Pileser I, Tukultī ...
in 1056, Assyria declined for a century. Its empire shrank significantly by 1020 BCE, apparently leaving it in control only of the areas in its immediate vicinity, although its heartland remained well-defended. By the time of Wenamun, Phoenicia had regained independence from Egypt. Robert Drews describes the collapse as "arguably 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 Ancient Rome, Rome) was the loss of central political control in the Western Roman Empire, a process in which the Empire failed to enforce its rul ...
". Cultural memories of the disaster told of a "lost
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 and the one during ...
". For example,
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded by western authors as 'the first written poet i ...
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, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
's story of
Atlantis Atlantis ( grc, Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος, , island of Atlas (mythology), Atlas) is a fictional island mentioned in an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato's works ''Timaeus (dialogue), Timaeus'' and ''Critias (dialogue), Critias'' ...
3/sup> in '' Timaeus'' and the ''
Critias Critias (; grc-gre, Κριτίας, ''Kritias''; c. 460 – 403 BC) was an ancient Athenian political figure and author. Born in Athens, Critias was the son of Callaeschrus and a first cousin of Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλά ...
''. Various explanations for the collapse have been proposed, including climatic changes (such as drought or effects of volcanic eruptions), invasions by groups such as the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a hypothesized seafaring confederation that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Mediterranean prior to and during the Late Bronze Age collapse (1200–900 Common Era, BCE).. Quote: ...
, effects of the spread of iron
metallurgy Metallurgy is a domain of Materials science, materials science and engineering that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic Chemical element, elements, their Inter-metallic alloy, inter-metallic compounds, and their mixtures, which ...
, developments in military weapons and tactics, and a variety of failures of political, social and economic systems, but none has achieved consensus. More than one of these factors probably played a part.


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: ''klkyʾy'' (''Klikiyā''); Parthian language, Parthian: ''kylkyʾ'' (''Kilikiyā''); tr, Kilikya). is a geographical region in southern Anatolia in Turkey, extending inland from th ...
and in the Levant, where the new states were composed of mixed Hittite and
Aramean The Arameans ( oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; syc, ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ, Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic languages, Semitic-speaking people in the Near East, first recorded in historical sources from the late 12th century B ...
polities. Beginning in the mid-10th century BC, a series of small Aramean kingdoms formed in the Levant, and the
Philistines The Philistines ( he, פְּלִשְׁתִּים, Pəlīštīm; Koine Greek (Septuagint, LXX): Φυλιστιείμ, romanized: ''Phulistieím'') were an ancient people who lived on the south coast of Canaan from the 12th century BC until 6 ...
settled in southern Canaan, where Canaanite speakers had coalesced into a number of polities such as
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
,
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'abâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'bâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an a ...
,
Edom Edom (; Edomite: ; he, אֱדוֹם , lit.: "red"; Akkadian: , ; Ancient Egyptian: ) was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan, located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah to the west, and the Arabian Desert The Arabian Dese ...
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 torren ...
.


Regional evidence


Evidence of destruction


Anatolia

Before the Bronze Age collapse,
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
(Asia Minor) was dominated by a number of peoples of varying ethno-linguistic origins, including: Semitic-speaking Assyrians and Amorites, Hurro-Urartian-speaking
Hurrians 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, H ...
,
Kaskians The Kaska (also Kaška, later Tabalian Kasku and Gasga,) were a loosely affiliated Bronze Age non-Indo-European tribal people, who spoke the unclassified Kaskian language and lived in mountainous East Pontus (region), Pontic Anatolia, known from ...
and
Hattians The Hattians () were an ancient Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with abou ...
, and later-arriving Indo-European peoples such as the Luwians, Hittites,
Mitanni Mitanni (; Hittite cuneiform ; ''Mittani'' '), c. 1550–1260 BC, earlier called Ḫabigalbat in old Babylonian texts, c. 1600 BC; Hanigalbat or Hani-Rabbat (''Hanikalbat'', ''Khanigalbat'', cuneiform ') in Assyria Assyria (Neo-Assyri ...
, and Mycenaeans. From the 16th century BC, the Mitanni, a migratory minority speaking an
Indo-Aryan language The Indo-Aryan languages (or sometimes Indic languages) are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. As of the early 21st century, they have more than 800 million speakers, primarily ...
, 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, consis ...
or a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most common examples. Other language isolates include Ainu language, Ainu in Asia, Sandawe ...
. 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 was the third stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of Assyria from the accession of Ashur-uballit I 1363 BC and the rise of Assyria as a territorial kingdom to the death of Ashur-dan II in 912 BC. ...
(1392–1050) 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, it was initially assumed that they then suffered a coup de grâce when
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'',Turkish language, Turkish: Hattuşaş ,Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze ...
, the Hittite capital, was burned, probably by the Kaskians, long indigenous to the southern shores of the
Black Sea The Black Sea is a marginal sea, marginal Mediterranean sea (oceanography), mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia, east of the Balkans, south of the East European Plain, west of the Caucasus, and north of An ...
, 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 (modern-day Turkey) in antiquity. They were related to ...
. However, Jürgen Seeher, the former lead excavator at Hattusa, has demonstrated that the city was not completely destroyed in a catastrophic assault. He states that:
1) There is no burnt 'horizon', only a certain number of burnt ruins the date of whose destruction is not established; 2) for the most part these burnt ruins contained no finds, which suggests that they burnt down only after they had lost their function and had been emptied of artefacts; 3) the emptying was presumably carried out by inhabitants of the city – after all, an enemy that is attacking a city does not go to the trouble of emptying buildings virtually down to the last pot before torching them; 4) the only buildings to have burnt are official ones – temples, palace buildings – while the residential districts remained unscathed; this too argues against an assault from outside.
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 5.1 million in its urban center ...
, was burned and the corpses left unburied. Many other sites that were not destroyed were abandoned. The Luwian city of
Troy Troy ( el, Τροία and Latin: Troia, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒋫𒊒𒄿𒊭 ''Truwiša'') or Ilion ( el, Ίλιον and Latin: Ilium, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒃾𒇻𒊭 ''Wiluša'') was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in prese ...
, famed 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 th ...
, was destroyed at least twice in this period, before being abandoned until
Roman times In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman people, Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom ...
. The Phrygians had arrived, probably through the
Bosporus The Bosporus Strait (; grc, Βόσπορος ; tr, İstanbul Boğazı 'Istanbul strait', colloquially ''Boğaz'') or Bosphorus Strait is a natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in Istanbul Istanbul ( , ; ...
or over the Caucasus Mountains, in the 13th century, before being first stopped by the Assyrians and then conquered by them in the Early Iron Age of the 12th century. 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 and
Shupria Shupria or Shubria ( hy, Շուպրիա) was an Hurrians, Hurrian kingdom known from Assyrian sources from the 13th century BC onward, in the Armenian Highlands, to the south-west of Lake Van, bordering Urartu. The capital was Ubbumu. The name Shup ...
, also emerged in parts of the region and Transcaucasia. The Assyrians continued their extant policies, conquering the 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, 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. These sites in Anatolia show evidence of the collapse: *
Troy Troy ( el, Τροία and Latin: Troia, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒋫𒊒𒄿𒊭 ''Truwiša'') or Ilion ( el, Ίλιον and Latin: Ilium, Hittite language, Hittite: 𒃾𒇻𒊭 ''Wiluša'') was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in prese ...
*
Miletus Miletus (; gr, Μῑ́λητος, Mī́lētos; Hittite language, Hittite transcription ''Millawanda'' or ''Milawata'' (Exonym and endonym, exonyms); la, Mīlētus; tr, Milet) was an Ancient Greece, ancient Greek city on the western coast of ...
*
Hattusa Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas ; Hittite language, Hittite: URU (Sumerogram), URU''Ḫa-at-tu-ša'',Turkish language, Turkish: Hattuşaş ,Hattic language, Hattic: Hattush) was the capital of the Hittites, Hittite Empire in the late Bronze ...
*
Mersin Mersin (), also known as İçel, is a large city and a port on the Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey. It is the provincial capital of Mersin Province, Mersin (İçel) Province. It is made up of four municipalities and dis ...
* Tarḫuntašša


Cyprus

During the reign of the Hittite king
Tudḫaliya IV Tudhaliya IV was a king of the Hittite Empire (New kingdom), and the younger son of Hattusili III. He reigned c. 1245–1215 BC (middle chronology) or c. 1237–1209 BC (short chronology). His mother was the great queen, Puduhepa. Biography ...
(reigned c. 1237–1209), the island was briefly invaded by the Hittites, either to secure the
copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductility, ductile metal with very high thermal conductivity, thermal and electrical conductivity. A fre ...
resource or as a way of preventing
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
. Shortly afterwards, the island was reconquered by his son Suppiluliuma II around 1200. There is little evidence of destruction on the island of Cyprus in the years surrounding 1200 which marks the separation between the Late Cypriot II (LCII) from the LCIII period. The city of
Kition Kition (Egyptian language, Egyptian: ; Phoenician language, Phoenician: , , or , ; Ancient Greek: , ; Latin: ) was a petty kingdom, city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus (in present-day Larnaca). According to the text on the plaque clos ...
is commonly cited as destroyed at the end of the LC IIC, but the excavator, Vassos Karageorghis, made it expressly clear that it was not destroyed stating, "At Kition, major rebuilding was carried out in both excavated Areas I and II, but there is no evidence of violent destruction; on the contrary, we observe a cultural continuity." Jesse Millek has demonstrated that while it is possible that the city of Enkomi was destroyed, the archaeological evidence is not clear. Of the two buildings dating to the end of the LC IIC excavated at Enkomi, both had limited evidence of burning and most rooms were without any kind of damage. The same can be said for the site of Sinda as it is not clear if it was destroyed since only some ash was found but no other evidence that the city was destroyed like fallen walls or burnt rubble. The only settlement on Cyprus that has clear evidence it was destroyed around 1200 was Maa Palaeokastro which was likely destroyed by some sort of attack though the excavators were not sure who attacked it saying, "We might suggest that he attackerswere ‘pirates’, ‘adventurers’ or remnants of the ‘Sea Peoples’, but this is simply another way of saying that we do not know." Several settlements on Cyprus were abandoned at the end of the LC IIC or during the first half of the 12th century without destruction such as Pyla Kokkinokremmos, Toumba tou Skourou, Alassa, and Maroni-Vournes. In a trend which appears to go against much of the Eastern Mediterranean at this time, several areas of Cyprus, Kition and Paphos, appear to have flourished after 1200 during the LC IIIA rather than experiencing any sort of downturn. These sites in Cyprus show evidence of the collapse: * Palaeokastro *
Kition Kition (Egyptian language, Egyptian: ; Phoenician language, Phoenician: , , or , ; Ancient Greek: , ; Latin: ) was a petty kingdom, city-kingdom on the southern coast of Cyprus (in present-day Larnaca). According to the text on the plaque clos ...
* Sinda * Enkomi


Syria

Ancient Syria had been initially dominated by a number of indigenous Semitic-speaking peoples. The East Semitic-speaking polities of
Ebla Ebla (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''eb₂-la'', ar, إبلا, modern: , Tell Mardikh) was one of the earliest kingdoms in Syria. Its remains constitute a Tell (archaeology), tell located about southwest of Aleppo near the village of Mard ...
and the
Akkadian Empire The Akkadian Empire () was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer. It was centered in the city of Akkad () and its surrounding region. The empire united Akkadian and Sumerian speakers under one rule ...
and the
Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It emerged from Proto-Semitic language, Proto-Semitic in the Early Bronze Age. It is first attested in proper names identified as Amorite ...
-speaking Amorites ("Amurru") and the people of Ugarit 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 BC, 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. Later the coastal regions came under attack from the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a hypothesized seafaring confederation that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Mediterranean prior to and during the Late Bronze Age collapse (1200–900 Common Era, BCE).. Quote: ...
. During this period, from the 12th century, the incoming
Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It emerged from Proto-Semitic language, Proto-Semitic in the Early Bronze Age. It is first attested in proper names identified as Amorite ...
-speaking Arameans came to demographic prominence in Syria, the region outside of the Canaanite-speaking
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
n coastal areas eventually came to speak
Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Semitic language that originated in the ancient Syria (regio ...
and the region came to be known as Aramea and Eber Nari. The
Babylonians Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ...
belatedly attempted to gain a foothold in the region during their brief revival under
Nebuchadnezzar I Nebuchadnezzar I or Nebuchadrezzar I (), reigned 1121–1100 BC, was the fourth king of the Second Dynasty of Isin and Fourth Dynasty of Babylon. He ruled for 22 years according to the ''Babylonian King List C'', and was the most prominent monarc ...
in the 12th century, but 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 The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Ancient Greece, Greek state in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was ...
(323–150 BC) (see Etymology of Syria). Levantine sites previously showed evidence of trade links with
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...

Mesopotamia
(
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
, Akkad, Assyria and
Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadian: , ''māt Akkadī'') was an ancient Akkadian-speaking state and cultural area based in the city of Babylon in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and parts of Syria). It emerged as an Amorites, Amorite-ruled ...
),
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
(Hattia, Hurria, Luwia and later the Hittites), Egypt and the in the Late Bronze Age. Evidence at Ugarit shows that the destruction there occurred after the reign of Merneptah (r. 1213–1203) and even the fall of
Chancellor Bay Bay, also called Ramesse Khamenteru (died 1192 BC), was an important Asiatic official in ancient Egypt, who rose to prominence and high office under Seti II Userkheperure Setepenre and later became an influential powerbroker in the closing stages ...
(d. 1192). 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 Carchemish ( Turkish: ''Karkamış''; or ), also spelled Karkemish ( hit, ; Hieroglyphic Luwian: , /; Akkadian: ; Egyptian: ; Hebrew: ) was an important ancient capital in the northern part of the region of Syria. At times during ...
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 Pharaoh (, ; Egyptian language, Egyptian: ''wikt:pr ꜥꜣ, pr ꜥꜣ''; cop, , Pǝrro; Biblical Hebrew: ''Parʿō'') is the vernacular term often used by modern authors for the kings of ancient Egypt who ruled as Monarch, monarchs from th ...
Merneptah Merneptah or Merenptah (reigned July or August 1213 BC – May 2, 1203 BC) was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years, from late July or early August 1213 BC until his death on May 2, ...
was found in the destruction levels, 1190 was taken as the date for the beginning of the LH IIIC. A
cuneiform Cuneiform is a logo- syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Middle East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 B ...
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 Usermaatre Meryamun Ramesses III (also written Ramses and Rameses) was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt, Twentieth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. He is thought to have reigned from 26 March 1186 to 15 April 1155 BC and is considered ...
, 1178. 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 Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is geo ...
) speaks of cities already being destroyed by attackers who came by sea. There is clear evidence that Ugarit was destroyed in some kind of assault, though the exact assailant is not known. In one residential area called the Ville sud, thirty two arrowheads were found scattered throughout the area with 12 of the arrowheads were found on the streets and in the open spaces. Along with the arrowheads, two lance heads, four javelin heads, five bronze daggers, one bronze sword, and three bronze pieces of armor were scattered throughout the houses and streets suggesting a fight took place in this residential neighborhood. An additional twenty five arrowheads were also recovered scattered around the Centre de la ville all of which suggests the city was burnt by an assault not by an earthquake. At the city of Emar, on the Euphrates, at some time between 1187–1175 only the monumental and religious structures were targeted for destruction while the houses appear to have been emptied, abandoned and were not destroyed with the monumental structures which suggests that the city was burned by attackers even though no weapons were recovered. While certain cities such as Ugarit and Emar were destroyed at the end of the Late Bronze Age, there are several others which were not destroyed even though they erroneously appear on most maps of destruction from the end of the Late Bronze Age. No evidence of destruction has been found at Hama, Qatna, Kadesh, Alalakh, and Aleppo, while for Tell Sukas, archaeologists only found some minor burning on some floors likely indicating that the town was not burned to the ground around 1200 BC. The West Semitic Arameans eventually superseded the earlier Amorites and people of Ugarit. The Arameans, together with the
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
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, although the Assyrians continued to conduct military campaigns in the region. However, with the rise of the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
in the late 10th century, the entire region once again fell to Assyria. These sites in Syria show evidence of the collapse: *
Ugarit Ugarit (; uga, 𐎜𐎂𐎗𐎚, ''ʾUgarītu''; ar, أُوغَارِيت ''Ūġārīt'' or ''Ūǧārīt'') was an ancient port city in northern Syria, in the outskirts of modern Latakia, discovered by accident in 1928 together with the Ugariti ...

Ugarit
*
Tell Sukas Tell Sukas (ancient Shuksi or Suksi) is a Late Bronze Age Tell (archaeology), archaeological mound on the Eastern Mediterranean coast about south of Jableh, Syria. Overview Tell Sukas was located at the center of the fertile plain of Jableh on a ...
* Kadesh *
Qatna Qatna (modern: ar, تل المشرفة, Tell al-Mishrifeh) (also Tell Misrife or Tell Mishrifeh) was an ancient city located in Homs Governorate Homs Governorate ( ar, مُحافظة حمص / ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library AssociationLibr ...
*
Hama Hama ( ar, حَمَاة ', ; syr, ܚܡܬ, ħ(ə)mɑθ, lit=fortress; Biblical Hebrew: ''Ḥamāṯ'') is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria. It is located north of Damascus and north of Homs. It is the provincial ca ...
*
Alalakh Alalakh (''Tell Atchana''; Hittite language, Hittite: Alalaḫ) is an ancient archaeological site approximately northeast of Antakya (historic Antioch) in what is now Turkey's Hatay Province. It flourished, as an urban settlement, in the Middle a ...
*
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 = ...
*
Emar Emar (modern Tell Meskene) is an archaeological site in Aleppo Governorate, northern Syria. It sits in the great bend of the mid-Euphrates, now on the shoreline of the man-made Lake Assad near the town of Maskanah. It has been the source of many C ...


Southern Levant

Egyptian evidence shows that from the reign of
Horemheb Horemheb, also spelled Horemhab or Haremhab ( egy, ḥr-m-ḥb, meaning "Horus is in Jubilation") was the last pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, 18th Dynasty of Egypt (1550–1295 BC). He ruled for at least 14 years between 131 ...
(ruled either 1319 or 1306 to 1292), wandering
Shasu The Shasu ( from Egyptian ''šꜣsw'', probably pronounced ''Shaswe'') were Semitic-speaking cattle nomads in the Southern Levant from the late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 ...
were more problematic than the earlier Apiru.
Ramesses II Ramesses II ( egy, wikt:rꜥ-ms-sw, rꜥ-ms-sw ''Rīʿa-məsī-sū'', , meaning "Ra is the one who bore him"; ), commonly known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Along with Thutmose III he is oft ...
(r. 1279–1213) campaigned against them, pursuing them as far as
Moab Moab ''Mōáb''; Akkadian language, Assyrian: 𒈬𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Mu'abâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒁀𒀀𒀀 ''Ma'bâ'', 𒈠𒀪𒀊 ''Ma'ab''; Egyptian language, Egyptian: 𓈗𓇋𓃀𓅱𓈉 ''Mū'ībū'', name=, group= () is the name of an a ...
, where he established a fortress, after a near defeat at the
Battle of Kadesh The Battle of Kadesh or Battle of Qadesh took place between the forces of the New Kingdom of Egypt under Ramesses II and the Hittites, Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh (Syria), Kadesh on the Orontes River, just upstream o ...
. During the reign of
Merneptah Merneptah or Merenptah (reigned July or August 1213 BC – May 2, 1203 BC) was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years, from late July or early August 1213 BC until his death on May 2, ...
, the
Shasu The Shasu ( from Egyptian ''šꜣsw'', probably pronounced ''Shaswe'') were Semitic-speaking cattle nomads in the Southern Levant from the late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 ...
threatened the " Way of Horus" north from Gaza. Evidence shows that Deir Alla ( Succoth) was destroyed, likely by an earthquake, after the reign of Queen
Twosret Twosret, also spelled ''Tawosret'' or ''Tausret'' (d. 1189 BC conventional chronology) was the last known ruler and the final pharaoh Pharaoh (, ; Egyptian language, Egyptian: ''wikt:pr ꜥꜣ, pr ꜥꜣ''; cop, , Pǝrro; Biblical Hebre ...
(r. 1191–1189) though the date of this destruction appears to be much later dating to roughly 1150. There is little evidence that any major city or settlement in the southern Levant was destroyed around 1200. At
Lachish Lachish ( he, לכיש; grc, Λαχίς; la, Lachis) was an ancient Canaanite languages, Canaanite and Israelites, Israelite city in the Shfela, Shephelah ("lowlands of Judea") region of Israel, on the South bank of the Lakhish River, mention ...
, The Fosse Temple III was ritually terminated while a house in Area S appears to have burned in a house fire as the most severe evidence of burning was next to two ovens while no other part of the city had evidence of burning. After this though the city was rebuilt in a grander fashion than before. For Megiddo, most parts of the city did not have any signs of damage and it is only possible that the palace in Area AA might have been destroyed though this is not certain. While the monumental structures at Hazor were indeed destroyed, this destruction was in the mid-13th century long before the end of the Late Bronze Age began. However, many sites were not burned to the ground around 1200 including: Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tell es-Safi, Tel Batash, Tel Burna, Tel Dor, Tel Gerisa, Tell Jemmeh, Khirbet Rabud, Tel Zeror, and Tell Abu Hawam among others. During the reign of Ramesses III,
Philistines The Philistines ( he, פְּלִשְׁתִּים, Pəlīštīm; Koine Greek (Septuagint, LXX): Φυλιστιείμ, romanized: ''Phulistieím'') were an ancient people who lived on the south coast of Canaan from the 12th century BC until 6 ...
were allowed to resettle the coastal strip from Gaza to Joppa,
Denyen The Denyen (Egyptian language, Egyptian: ''dꜣjnjnjw'') is purported to be one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples. Origin They are mentioned in the Amarna letters from the 14th century BC as possibly being related to the "Land of the Da ...
(possibly the
tribe of Dan The Tribe of Dan (, "Judge") was one of the Twelve tribes of Israel, twelve tribes of Israel, according to the Torah. They were allocated a coastal portion of land when the people of Israel entered the Promised Land, later moving northwards. Bi ...
in the Bible, or more likely the people of Adana, also known as Danuna, part of the Hittite Empire) settled from Joppa to
Acre The acre is a Unit of measurement, unit of land area used in the Imperial units, imperial and United States customary units#Units of area, US customary systems. It is traditionally defined as the area of one Chain (unit), chain by one furlong ( ...
, and Tjekker in Acre. The sites quickly achieved independence, as the '' Tale of Wenamun'' shows. Despite many theories which claim that trade relations broke down after 1200 in the southern Levant, there is ample evidence that trade with other regions continued after the end of the Late Bronze Age in the Southern Levant. Archaeologist Jesse Millek has shown that while the common assuption is that trade in Cypriot and Mycenaean pottery ended around 1200, trade in Cypriot pottery actually largely came to an end at 1300, while for Mycenaean pottery, this trade ended at 1250, and destruction around 1200 could not have affected either pattern of international trade since it ended before the end of the Late Bronze Age. He has also demonstrated that trade with Egypt continued after 1200. Archaeometallurgical studies performed by various teams have also shown that trade in tin, a non-local metal necessary to make bronze, did not stop or decrease after 1200, even though the closest source of the metal were modern Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, or perhaps even Cornwall, England. Lead from Sardinia was still being imported to the southern Levant after 1200 during the early Iron Age. These sites in the Southern Levant show evidence of the collapse: * Hazor *
Akko Acre ( ), known locally as Akko ( he, עַכּוֹ, ''ʻAkō'') or Akka ( ar, عكّا, ''ʻAkkā''), is a List of cities in Israel, city in the coastal plain region of the Northern District (Israel), Northern District of Israel. The city occu ...
* Megiddo * Deir 'Alla (
Sukkot or ("Booths, Tabernacles") , observedby = Jews, Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Šōmrōnīm, lit=; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the anc ...
) *
Bethel Bethel ( he, בֵּית אֵל, translit=Bēṯ 'Ēl, "House of El" or "House of God",Bleeker and Widegren, 1988, p. 257. also transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one writing system, script to another t ...
* Beth Shemesh *
Lachish Lachish ( he, לכיש; grc, Λαχίς; la, Lachis) was an ancient Canaanite languages, Canaanite and Israelites, Israelite city in the Shfela, Shephelah ("lowlands of Judea") region of Israel, on the South bank of the Lakhish River, mention ...
*
Ashdod Ashdod ( he, ''ʾašdōḏ''; ar, أسدود or إسدود ''ʾisdūd'' or ''ʾasdūd'' ; Philistine language, Philistine: 𐤀𐤔𐤃𐤃 *''ʾašdūd'') is the List of Israeli cities, sixth-largest city in Israel. Located in the country's So ...
*
Ashkelon Ashkelon or Ashqelon (; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , , ; Philistine language, Philistine: ), also known as Ascalon (; Ancient Greek: , ; Arabic: , ), is a coastal city in the Southern District (Israel), Southern District of Israel on the Medite ...


Greece

Destruction was heaviest at palaces and fortified sites, and none of the Mycenaean palaces of the Late Bronze Age survived (with the possible exception of the
Cyclopean Cyclopean masonry is a type of masonry, stonework found in Mycenaean Greece, Mycenaean architecture, built with massive limestone boulders, roughly fitted together with minimal Engineering tolerance, clearance between adjacent stones and with clay ...
fortifications on the
Acropolis of Athens The Acropolis of Athens is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital a ...
). Thebes was one of the earliest examples of this, having its palace sacked repeatedly between 1300 and 1200 and eventually 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 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 remnants of a destroyed palace or central structure, a change in location of living quarters and burial sites demonstrates a significant recession. Furthermore, the increase in fortification at this site suggests much fear of the decline in Athens. Vincent Desborough asserts that this is evidence of later migrations away from the city in reaction to its initial decline, although a significant population did remain. It remains possible that this emigration from Athens was not flight from violence. Nancy Demand posits that environmental changes could have played an important 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 The Peloponnese (), Peloponnesus (; el, Πελοπόννησος, Pelopónnēsos,(), or Morea is a peninsula and geographic regions of Greece, geographic region in southern Greece. It is connected to the central part of the country by the Isthmu ...
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 as evidenced by the presence of crushed bodies buried in collapsed buildings. However, the site was rebuilt only to face destruction in 1190 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 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 Tiryns or (Ancient Greek: Τίρυνς; Modern Greek: Τίρυνθα) is a Mycenaean civilization , Mycenaean archaeological site in Argolis in the Peloponnese, and the location from which the mythical hero Heracles performed his Labours of Her ...
in 1200 BC, 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 reflects the 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 rebuts the idea that this is evidence of an attack by Sea People, pointing out that the tablet does not say what is being watched for or 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 term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of History of Greece, Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean civilization, Mycenaean palatial civilization, around 1100 BC, to the beginning of the Archaic Greece, Archaic age, around 750 ...
, which lasted roughly 400 years and ended with the establishment of
Archaic Greece Archaic Greece was the period in History of Greece, Greek history lasting from circa 800 BC to the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC, following the Greek Dark Ages and succeeded by the Classical Greece, Classical period. In the archaic ...
. Other cities, such as
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest c ...
, 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) *
Pylos Pylos (, ; el, Πύλος), historically also known as Navarino, is a town and a former Communities and Municipalities of Greece, municipality in Messenia, Peloponnese (region), Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform, it has ...

Pylos
* Nichoria * Menelaion *
Tiryns Tiryns or (Ancient Greek: Τίρυνς; Modern Greek: Τίρυνθα) is a Mycenaean civilization , Mycenaean archaeological site in Argolis in the Peloponnese, and the location from which the mythical hero Heracles performed his Labours of Her ...
*
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 * Lefkandi * Iolkos *
Knossos Knossos (also Cnossos, both pronounced ; grc, Κνωσός, Knōsós, ; Linear B: ''Ko-no-so'') is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe's oldest city. Settled as early as the Neolithic period, the na ...
*
Kydonia Kydonia or Cydonia (; grc, Κυδωνία; lat, Cydonia) was an ancient city-state on the northwest coast of the island of Crete. It is at the site of the modern-day Greek city of Chania. In legend Cydonia was founded by King Cydon (), a son ...


Areas that survived


Mesopotamia

The
Middle Assyrian Empire The Middle Assyrian Empire was the third stage of Assyrian history, covering the history of Assyria from the accession of Ashur-uballit I 1363 BC and the rise of Assyria as a territorial kingdom to the death of Ashur-dan II in 912 BC. ...
(1392–1056) had destroyed the Hurrian-Mitanni Empire, annexed much of the
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara (before 1750 BC), then the Kültepe , Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centere ...

Hittite Empire
and eclipsed the
Egyptian Empire The New Kingdom, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian History of Ancient Egypt, history between the sixteenth century BC and the eleventh century BC, covering the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, Eighteenth, Ni ...
. At the beginning of the Late Bronze Age collapse, it controlled an empire stretching from the
Caucasus mountains The Caucasus Mountains, : pronounced * hy, Կովկասյան լեռներ, : pronounced * az, Qafqaz dağları, pronounced * rus, Кавка́зские го́ры, Kavkázskiye góry, kɐfˈkasːkʲɪje ˈɡorɨ * tr, Kafkas Dağla ...
in the north to the
Arabian peninsula The Arabian Peninsula, (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") or Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa Africa is t ...
in the south, and from
Ancient Iran The history of Iran is intertwined with the history of a larger region known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia in the west to the borders of Ancient India and the Syr Darya in the east, and from the Caucasus and the Eurasian Step ...
in the east to
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is geo ...
in the west. However, in the 12th century, Assyrian satrapies in
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
came under attack from the
Mushki The Mushki (sometimes transliterated as Muški) were an Iron Age people of Anatolia who appear in sources from Assyria but not from the Hittites. Several authors have connected them with the Moschia, Moschoi (Μόσχοι) of Greek sources and t ...
(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 (modern-day Turkey) in antiquity. They were related to ...
) and those in the Levant from Arameans, but
Tiglath-Pileser I Tiglath-Pileser I (; from the Hebraic form of akk, , Tukultī-apil-Ešarra, "my trust is in the son of Ešarra") was a king King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, ...
(reigned 1114–1076 BC) was able to defeat and repel these attacks, conquering the attackers. The Middle Assyrian Empire survived intact throughout much of this period, with Assyria dominating and often ruling Babylonia directly, and controlling southeastern and southwestern
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
, northwestern
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
and much of northern and central
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
and
Canaan Canaan (; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤊𐤍𐤏𐤍 – ; he, כְּנַעַן – , in pausa – ; grc-bib, Χανααν – ;The current scholarly edition of the Septuagint, Greek Old Testament spells the word without any accents, c ...

Canaan
, as far as the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
and
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is geo ...
.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 (modern-day Turkey) in antiquity. They were related to ...
were subjugated, and Assyria and its colonies were not threatened by the
Sea Peoples The Sea Peoples are a hypothesized seafaring confederation that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Mediterranean prior to and during the Late Bronze Age collapse (1200–900 Common Era, BCE).. Quote: ...
who had ravaged Egypt and much of the East Mediterranean, and the Assyrians often conquered as far as
Phoenicia Phoenicia () was an ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, ancient thalassocracy, thalassocratic civilization originating in the Levant region of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. The territory of the Phoenician city-st ...
and the
East Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the East, eastern approximate One half, half, or third, of the Mediterranean Sea, often defined as the countries around the Levantine Sea. It typically embraces all of that sea's coastal zones, refe ...
. However, after the death of
Ashur-bel-kala Aššūr-bēl-kala, inscribed m''aš-šur-''EN''-ka-la'' and meaning “Ashur (god), Aššur is lord of all,” was the king of Assyria 1074/3–1056 BC, the 89th to appear on the ''Assyrian Kinglist''. He was the son of Tiglath-Pileser I, Tukultī ...
in 1056, Assyria withdrew to areas close to its natural borders, encompassing what is today northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, the fringes of northwestern Iran, and southeastern Turkey. It 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, Assyria once more asserted itself internationally, and the
Neo-Assyrian Empire The Neo-Assyrian Empire was the fourth and penultimate stage of ancient Assyrian history and the final and greatest phase of Assyria as an independent state. Beginning with the accession of Adad-nirari II in 911 BC, the Neo-Assyrian Empire grew t ...
grew 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 Elamite, also known as Hatamtite and formerly as Susian, is an extinct language that was spoken by the ancient Elamites. It was used in what is now southwestern Iran from 2600 BC to 330 BC. Elamite works disappear from the archeological record a ...
) subjugation, and new groups of Semitic speakers such as the
Arameans The Arameans ( oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; grc, Ἀραμαῖοι; syc, ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ, Ārāmāyē) were an ancient Semitic-speaking people in the Near East, first recorded in historical sources from the late 12th century BCE. The Aramean hom ...
and
Suteans The Suteans (Akkadian language, Akkadian: ''Sutī’ū'', possibly from Amorite language, Amorite: ''Šetī’u'') were a Semitic people who lived throughout the Levant, Canaan and Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian Empire, Old Babylonian perio ...
(and in the period after the Bronze Age Collapse,
Chaldea Chaldea () was a small country that existed between the late 10th or early 9th and mid-6th centuries BCE, after which the country and its people were absorbed and assimilated into the indigenous population of Babylonia Babylonia (; Akkadia ...
ns 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''; Elamite cuneiform, Cuneiform Elamite: ; Sumerian language, Sumerian: ; Akkadian language, Akkadian: ; he, עֵילָם ''ʿēlām''; peo, 𐎢𐎺𐎩 ''hūja'') was an ancient civilization centered i ...

Elam
ites under Shutruk-Nahhunte (c. 1185–1155), and lost control of the
Diyala River The Diyala River (Arabic Arabic (, ' ; , ' or ) is a Semitic languages, Semitic language spoken primarily across the Arab world.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, ...
valley to Assyria.


Egypt

While it survived the Bronze Age collapse, the Egyptian Empire of the New Kingdom era receded considerably in territorial and economic strength during the mid-twelfth century (during the reign of
Ramesses VI Ramesses VI Nebmaatre-Meryamun (sometimes written Ramses or Rameses, also known under his princely name of Amenherkhepshef C) was the fifth ruler of the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt. He reigned for about eight years in the mid-to-late 12th century ...
, 1145 to 1137). Previously, the
Merneptah Stele The Merneptah Stele, also known as the Israel Stele or the Victory Stele of Merneptah, is an inscription by Merneptah Merneptah or Merenptah (reigned July or August 1213 BC – May 2, 1203 BC) was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty ...
(c. 1200) spoke of attacks (Libyan War) from Putrians (from modern
Libya Libya (; ar, ليبيا, Lībiyā), officially the State of Libya ( ar, دولة ليبيا, Dawlat Lībiyā), is a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to Egypt–Libya bo ...
), with associated people of Ekwesh, Shekelesh, Lukka,
Shardana The Sherden ( Egyptian: ''šrdn'', ''šꜣrdꜣnꜣ'' or ''šꜣrdynꜣ'', Ugaritic: ''šrdnn(m)'' and ''trtn(m)'', possibly Akkadian: ''še-er-ta-an-nu''; also glossed “Shardana” or “Sherdanu”) are one of the several ethnic group An ...
and Teresh (possibly Troas), and a Canaanite revolt, in the cities of
Ashkelon Ashkelon or Ashqelon (; Hebrew language, Hebrew: , , ; Philistine language, Philistine: ), also known as Ascalon (; Ancient Greek: , ; Arabic: , ), is a coastal city in the Southern District (Israel), Southern District of Israel on the Medite ...
, Yenoam and among the people of
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
. A second attack (
Battle of the Delta The Battle of the Delta was a sea battle between Ancient Egypt, Egypt and the Sea Peoples, circa 1175 BCE, when the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses III repulsed a major sea invasion. The conflict occurred on the shores of the eastern Nile Delta and on t ...
and
Battle of Djahy The Battle of Djahy was a major land battle between the forces of pharaoh Ramesses III and the Sea Peoples who intended to invade and conquer Egypt. The conflict occurred on the Egyptian Empire's easternmost frontier in Djahy or modern-day souther ...
) during the reign of
Ramesses III Usermaatre Meryamun Ramesses III (also written Ramses and Rameses) was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt, Twentieth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. He is thought to have reigned from 26 March 1186 to 15 April 1155 BC and is considered ...
(1186–1155) involved
Peleset The Peleset ( Egyptian: ''pwrꜣsꜣtj'') or Pulasati were one of the several ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that d ...
,
Tjeker The Tjeker or Tjekker (Egyptian language, Egyptian: ''ṯꜣkꜣr'' or ''ṯꜣkkꜣr'') were one of the Sea Peoples. Known mainly from the "Story of Wenamun", the Tjeker are also documented earlier, at Medinet Habu (temple), Medinet Habu, as raid ...
,
Shardana The Sherden ( Egyptian: ''šrdn'', ''šꜣrdꜣnꜣ'' or ''šꜣrdynꜣ'', Ugaritic: ''šrdnn(m)'' and ''trtn(m)'', possibly Akkadian: ''še-er-ta-an-nu''; also glossed “Shardana” or “Sherdanu”) are one of the several ethnic group An ...
and
Denyen The Denyen (Egyptian language, Egyptian: ''dꜣjnjnjw'') is purported to be one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples. Origin They are mentioned in the Amarna letters from the 14th century BC as possibly being related to the "Land of the Da ...
. The Nubian War, the First Libyan War, the Northern War and the Second Libyan War were all victories for Ramesses. 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 Nubians () ( Nobiin: ''Nobī,'' ) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identity (social science), identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups ...
, 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 Sea People, 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, Ramesses implied that his reign was safe in the wake of the Bronze Age collapse. Egypt’s withdrawal from the southern Levant was a protracted process lasting some one hundred years and was most likely a product of the political turmoil in Egypt proper. Many Egyptian garrisons or sites with an “Egyptian governor’s residence” in the southern Levant were abandoned without destruction including Dier el-Balah, Ashkelon, Tel Mor, Tell el-Far'ah (South), Tel Gerisa, Tell Jemmeh, Tel Masos, and Qubur el-Walaydah. Not all Egyptian sites in the southern Levant were abandoned without destruction. The Egyptian garrison at Aphek was destroyed, likely in an act of warfare at the end of the 13th century. The Egyptian gate complex uncovered at Jaffa was destroyed at the end of the 12th century between 1134-1115 based on C14 dates, while Beth-Shean was partially though not completely destroyed, possibly by an earthquake, in the mid-12th century.


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 volcanic eruption in Iceland to 1159 BC and blamed it for famines under
Ramesses III Usermaatre Meryamun Ramesses III (also written Ramses and Rameses) was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt, Twentieth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt. He is thought to have reigned from 26 March 1186 to 15 April 1155 BC and is considered ...
during the wider Bronze Age collapse. The event is thought to have caused a
volcanic winter A volcanic winter is a reduction in global temperatures caused by volcanic ash and droplets of sulfuric acid and water obscuring the Sun and raising Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known t ...
. Other estimated dates for the Hekla 3 eruption range from 1021 (±130) to 1135 BC (±130) and 929 (±34). Other scholars prefer the neutral and vague "3000 BP".


Drought

During what may have been the driest era of the Late Bronze Age, tree cover of the Mediterranean forest dwindled. Primary sources report that the era was marked by large-scale migration of people at the end of the Late Bronze Age. In the Dead Sea region (The Southern Levant), the subsurface water level dropped by more than 50 meters during the end of the second millennium B.C.E. 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. Drought in the Nile Valley also may have contributed to the rise of the Sea Peoples and their sudden migration across the eastern Mediterranean. It was suspected that 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 The Pyrenees (; es, Pirineos ; french: Pyrénées ; ca, Pirineu ; eu, Pirinioak ; oc, Pirenèus ; an, Pirineus) is a mountain range straddling the border of France and Spain. It extends nearly from its union with the Cantabrian Mountains to C ...
and the Alps, bringing wetter conditions to Central Europe but drought to the Eastern Mediterranean, was associated with the Late Bronze Age collapse. Analysis of multiple lines of paleoenvironmental evidence suggests climate change was one aspect associated with this period, but not the sole cause.


Pandemic

Recent evidence suggests the collapse of the cultures in Mycenaean Greece, Hittite Anatolia, and the Levant may have been precipitated or worsened by the arrival of an early and now-extinct strain of the
Bubonic Plague Bubonic plague is one of three types of Plague (disease), plague caused by the plague Bacteria, bacterium (''Yersinia pestis''). One to seven days after exposure to the bacteria, flu-like symptoms develop. These symptoms include fever, headac ...
that was brought from central Asia by the Sea Peoples or other migrating groups.


Cultural


Ironworking

The Bronze Age collapse may be seen in the context of a technological history that saw the slow spread of
ironworking Ferrous metallurgy is the metallurgy of iron and its alloys. The earliest surviving prehistory, prehistoric iron artifacts, from the 4th millennium BC in Egypt, were made from meteorite, meteoritic Iron–nickel alloy, iron-nickel. It is not know ...
technology from present-day
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria,, ) is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the eastern flank of the Balkans, and is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and North Macedon ...
and
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country located at the crossroads of Central Europe, Central, Eastern Europe, Eastern, and Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. It borders Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, S ...
in the 13th and the 12th centuries BC. Leonard R. Palmer suggested that
iron Iron () is a chemical element with Symbol (chemistry), symbol Fe (from la, Wikt:ferrum, ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 element, group 8 of the periodic table. It is, Abundance ...
, which is 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 Robert Drews (born March 26, 1936) is an American historian who is Professor of Classical Studies Emeritus at Vanderbilt University Vanderbilt University (informally Vandy or VU) is a private university, private research university in Nashvill ...
argues for the appearance of massed
infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air assault infantry, and marine i ...
, using newly developed weapons and armour, such as
cast Cast may refer to: Music * Cast (band), an English alternative rock band * Cast (Mexican band), a progressive Mexican rock band * The Cast, a Scottish musical duo: Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis * ''Cast'', a 2012 album by Trespassers William * ...
rather than forged spearheads and long swords, a revolutionizing cut-and-thrust weapon, and
javelin A javelin is a light spear designed primarily to be thrown, historically as a ranged weapon, but today predominantly for sport. The javelin is almost always thrown by hand, unlike the sling (weapon), sling, bow and arrow, bow, and crossbow, whi ...
s. The appearance of bronze foundries suggests "that mass production of bronze artefacts was suddenly important in the Aegean". For example,
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
uses "spears" as a
metonym Metonymy () is a figure of speech in which a concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept. Etymology The words ''metonymy'' and ''metonym'' come from grc, μετωνυμία, 'a change of name' ...
for "warriors". Such new weaponry, in the hands of large numbers of "running
skirmisher Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of an army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin ...
s", 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 The Urnfield culture ( 1300 BC – 750 BC) was a late Bronze Age Europe, Bronze Age culture of Central Europe, often divided into several local cultures within a broader Urnfield tradition. The name comes from the custom of cremat ...
of the 12th and 13th centuries BC and the rise of the Celtic
Hallstatt culture The Hallstatt culture was the predominant Western Europe, Western and Central European Archaeological culture, culture of Late Bronze Age Europe, Bronze Age (Hallstatt A, Hallstatt B) from the 12th to 8th centuries BC and Early Iron Age Europe ...
in the 9th and 10th centuries BC. General systems collapse theory, pioneered by
Joseph Tainter Joseph Anthony Tainter (born December 8, 1949) is an American anthropology, anthropologist and historian. Biography Tainter studied anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University, where he received his Ph.D. in ...
, proposes that
societal collapse Societal collapse (also known as civilizational collapse) is the fall of a complex human society characterized by the loss of cultural identity and of socioeconomic complexity, the downfall of government, and the rise of violence. Possible causes ...
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 The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabian Peninsula, Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Anatolia, Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Pro ...
, a variety of factorsincluding population growth,
soil degradation Soil retrogression and degradation are two regressive evolution processes associated with the loss of equilibrium of a soil health, stable soil. Retrogression is primarily due to soil erosion and corresponds to a phenomenon where succession revert ...
, drought, cast bronze weapon and iron production technologiescould have combined to push the relative price of weaponry (compared to
arable land Arable land (from the la, arabilis, "able to be plough A plough or plow (Differences between American and British spellings, US; both ) is a farm tool for loosening or turning the soil before sowing seed or planting. Ploughs were traditio ...
) 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 rendered 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 Political structure is a commonly used term in political science. In a general sense, it refers to institutions or even groups and their relations to each other, their patterns of interaction within political systems and to political regulations, l ...
. 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 migration or invasion.Cline, Eric H. (2014). " 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed". Princeton University Press.


See also

*
Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of History of Greece, Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean civilization, Mycenaean palatial civilization, around 1100 BC, to the beginning of the Archaic Greece, Archaic age, around 750 ...
period following the Late Bronze Age collapse *
Iron Age Cold Epoch The Iron Age Cold Epoch (also referred to as Iron Age climate pessimum or Iron Age neoglaciation) was a period of unusually cold climate in the North Atlantic region, lasting from about 900 BC to about 300 BC, with an especially cold wave in 450 B ...
* Middle Bronze Age migrations (ancient Near East) *
Migration Period The Migration Period was a period in History of Europe, European history marked by large-scale migrations that saw the fall of the Western Roman Empire and subsequent settlement of its former territories by various tribes, and the establishment ...
similar period preceding the
Early Middle Ages The Early Middle Ages (or early medieval period), sometimes controversially referred to as the Dark Ages (historiography), Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They ...
* Mycenology *
Third Intermediate Period of Egypt The Third Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt began with the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1077 BC, which ended the New Kingdom, and was eventually followed by the Late Period of ancient Egypt, Late Period. Various points are offered as ...
a similar period in Egypt


Notes


References


Further reading

* Millek, Jesse Michael, 2019
Exchange, Destruction, and a Transitioning Society. Interregional Exchange in the Southern Levant from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron I
RessourcenKulturen 9. Tübingen: Tübingen University Press. ISBN 9783947251100 * Fischer, Peter M. and Teresa Bürge, 2017. ''"Sea Peoples" Up-To-Date : New Research on Transformations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 13th-11th Centuries Bce.'' Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/j.ctt1v2xvsn. * * Killebrew Ann E. and Gunnar Lehmann, 2013. ''The Philistines and Other "Sea Peoples" in Text and Archaeology''. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. * Bachhuber, Christoph R. and Gareth Roberts, 2009. ''Forces of Transformation : The End of the Bronze Age in the Mediterranean : Proceedings of an International Symposium Held at St. John's College University of Oxford 25-6th March 2006'' Paperback ed. Oxford: Oxbow Books. * * Oren, Eliezer D. 2000. ''The Sea Peoples and Their World : A Reassessment''. Philadelphia: University Museum. * Ward, William A. and Martha Sharp Joukowsky, 1992. ''The Crisis Years : The 12th Century B.c. : From Beyond the Danube to the Tigris''. Dubuque Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Pub.


External links

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