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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Sunday 21 April 2019

1177 BC - The Ancient Dark Ages

The Late Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean was full of thriving civilisations (Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, Cypriots, Minoans, Mycenaeans, Assyrians and Babylonians), which were interconnected through trade and culture. After around 1200 BC, they started to collapse. In this book, Eric Kline examines the evidence on how and why this happened.

The conventional view is that the collapse was caused by invasions of warriors known as the Sea Peoples. We know very little about the Sea Peoples, other than an Egyptian narrative, it is even unclear where they came from.

Kline argues that the collapse was likely caused by a range of factors, of which the Sea Peoples were only one. The records are understandably limited and the archaeological evidence is inconclusive. For example, while we know that many cities were destroyed, it is unclear if this was caused by natural events, invasion or even internal rebellion. Possible causes include:

  • Earthquakes certainly struck many times during this period and crush injuries have been identified in excavations.
  • Climate change, drought and famine, could have caused the movement of peoples and there is some evidence from Egyptian records of famine. Climate scientists agree that there was warming and drought during this period.
  • Internal rebellions may be a more credible explanation for some destruction, but it is difficult to separate these from other forms of destruction.
  • Sea Peoples or other migratory invasions remain a strong candidate. Particularly if this caused the collapse of international trade. The breakdown of trade could lead to decentralisation and the rise of private merchants rather than the state.   

The problem with these events is that they have all happened throughout history, without causing the collapse of so many civilisations. Countries dust themselves down and rebuild. This leads to the view that all of these events resulted in system collapse or a domino effect when one part of the system failing leads to failures elsewhere. As Kline puts it; 'a perfect storm of calamities'. 

A very interesting book that describes the civilisations of the period and their destruction. I visited sites like Mycenae and Tiryns last year and I plan to visit the Minoan sites next month. For the wargamer, Osprey MAA109 provides a broad overview of the armies and the period.

The Lion Gate at Mycenae

1 comment:

  1. Points 2 and 4 in conjunction appear to be the reason. It is surprising that records from east of the coast of Asia don't mention new peoples and large invasions of neighbours.