Saturday 30 April 2016

Bronze Age Collapse

In the late Bronze Age of the Middle East, a diplomatic community of empires maintained a thriving international system based on bronze. Between 1200-1050 BC, the record of these powers hint at tumult and upheaval - then most simply fall eerily silent, signifying a dark age of history.

The Hittite of old kingdom formed in Anatolia(modern Turkey) in the 17th century BC, But declined due to infighting. The new kingdom emerged in the 15th century and expanded to challenge first Mittani and then Egypt. Their capital, Hattusa was destroyed around 1180 BCand was unearthed at Bogazkoy at central Turkey.

Hittite capital

The kingdoms of late Bronze Age - Babylonia, Mittani, Elam, Egypt, Mycenae, Alashiya and the Hittite empire were potent powers, whose might was based on their war chariots. Where their frontiers met, they fought, but they made no attempt to conquer each other's core territories, so relative stability was maintained for four centuries from 1600 - 1200 BC.

The great powers of Middle East c.1350 BC

The key to this stability was the need for supplies of copper and tin to make bronze for weapons and tools.Copper was abundant, but the source of tin at the time was in distance Afghanistan. So the states quickly formed diplomatic community based on intensive correspondence and dynastic inter marriage.

The collapse began in 1200 BC. The first sign was that Mycenaean citadels in Greece were destroyed most likely by Northern invaders. Around 1180 BC the Hittite Empire abruptly disappeared from history.  

Egypt's New kingdom declined and eventually fragmented in 1069 BC. Babylonia's wars with Assyria and Elam resulted in Babylon's Kassite dynasty dissolving in 1154 BC. Assyria also fell silent by 1050 BC for over a century.

Rameses III battles the Sea People

Pharaoh Rameses III smites his enemies in his battle against the "Sea People" during the 12th century BC. Long blamed for Bronze Age collapse, the Sea Peoples may have been opportunists attacking weakened states.

After 1050, there are simply no records at all and the period 1050-934 BC is termed a "dark-age". This period is one of the most hotly debated subjects in ancient history. Out of he Bronze Age kingdoms mentioned above only Assyria and Elam returned from the Dark Age.

After the collapse, new kingdoms including the Hebrew states of Israel and Judah, were founded in the former territory of the Bronze Age powers.

Iron Ore was more readily accessible than the ingredients for Bronze, but the transition to the Iron economy was highly disruptive, so the great powers stuck with Bronze.


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