The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

If you bought 1177 BC, you got took

Was the Bronze Age Collapse a result of climate-change? If you've bought 1177 BC, you probably think so. NPR has made a big deal of it.

NPR's gushing should have tipped us off. I hadn't bought this book myself and now, I'm glad I didn't. The University of Bradford has looked into the full era from 1200 to 500 BC; mainly looking for climate-change dealing with the (800s) European Bronze Age collapse. For the Mitteleuropeans, it was dislocation of trade-networks and population movements that did it. Brought on by a technological revolution.

This seems familiar. These processes are... what Robert Drews was teaching us about in the early 1990s, concerning the fall of the Mediterranean empires of the 1200s BC. Drews didn't credit the iron trade, where the Bradfordites do - but again, Drews was dealing with an earlier time when proper steelwork wasn't in play yet. Anyway. The point is: Bradford's University has shown there was some significant climate-change during these centuries - but not until a few generations after the European collapse (their statistics turn up the middle 700s). Maybe along the way a few bad winters and/or dry summers came along; but we're all agreed that's not climate; that's weather.

I'm not saying climate doesn't matter. But technology shifts and trade networks often matter more. This is what mattered in the 800s BC and, I have to say, this is what mattered in the 1100s.

UPDATE 11/22: Some valuable (if anonymous) feedback in the comments has forced a clarification of this post. I'd goofed, a little bit, on the focus of the Bradford study - which dealt with a later event to the north. But rereading the study or at least its press-release... it looks like there weren't any climate disruptions earlier, either.

posted by Zimri on 17:52 | link | 2 comments

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