Bronze Age Collapse Theories


What are the leading theories as to the cause of the Late Bronze Age Collapse? Please provide sources.

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The Late Bronze Age Collapse, a significant event in the Eastern Mediterranean history, has been a subject of extensive research. The leading theories explaining this collapse involve a combination of environmental, socio-political, economic, and cultural factors. Here are the key findings from recent research:

  1. Climate Change and Environmental Factors: A study by Kaniewski et al. (2013) highlights the impact of abrupt climate change, leading to famine and contributing to the Sea Peoples' invasions in Cyprus and Syria (Kaniewski, Van Campo, Guiot, Le Burel, Otto, & Baeteman, 2013). Similarly, Golubev (2021) discusses the decline of agricultural production due to widespread deforestation, overgrazing, and salinization of arable lands, causing a drop in fertility and food shortages (Golubev, 2021).

  2. Socio-Political and Economic Struggles: The collapse involved migrations, political struggles within dominant polities, and system collapse, as noted by Knapp and Manning (2016). These factors contributed to inequalities between centers and peripheries (Knapp & Manning, 2016).

  3. Invasions and Warfare: The invasions of the “Peoples-of-the-Sea” played a significant role in the collapse, as depicted in Egyptian bas-reliefs and various texts. These invasions led to significant warfare and destabilization across the region (Sears, 2016).

  4. Epidemics and Disease: Norrie (2016) suggests that infectious disease epidemics, such as smallpox, bubonic plague, and tularemia, were significant contributors to the collapse, affecting population dynamics and leading to the abandonment of cities (Norrie, 2016).

In conclusion, the Late Bronze Age Collapse was likely caused by a combination of climatic changes, socio-political struggles, invasions, and possibly epidemics, leading to the disintegration of several advanced societies in the Eastern Mediterranean.