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Bronze Age Cataclysms: Why Troy, Mycenae and Other Legendary Cities Gone Into Oblivion
Bronze Age Cataclysms: Why Troy, Mycenae and Other Legendary Cities Gone Into Oblivion

Until the formation of the Slavic culture, centuries and even millennia remained, and on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea there were already ports and trade in different languages ​​was carried out. Yes, and at that time they were not building semi-dugouts, but multi-storey palaces. What destroyed Troy became part of the general picture of the destruction of the ancient world, which, after an unprecedented heyday, was suddenly plunged into darkness comparable to the Middle Ages.

The heyday of ancient states: how was life for those who were born in the Mediterranean three and a half thousand years ago

Talking about a developed ancient culture, to which the Renaissance civilization will later turn, is a familiar thing. At the same time, it is customary to talk about the classical period and the era of Hellenism - it was at that time that works of art were created that later inspired Italian sculptors. But let's go back a millennium earlier - in those days when the sculptures of Venus de Milo and Nika of Samothrace did not exist, the writings of Homer were not written, but Athens already existed - this city will then pass "by inheritance" to a new civilization.

The Eastern Mediterranean of the XIV-XII centuries BC, that is, more than three millennia ago, is the world of prosperous, developed states. The Minoan civilization in Crete, the Mycenaean state in the Peloponnese, the Hittite kingdom in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and, of course, Egypt at that time were the embodiment of the golden age of the ancient world.

The ruins of the palace in Ugarit, the palace consisted of hundreds of halls and courtyards. The first settlement in these places arose about eight thousand years ago

There are very few sources of information about that time, but even the information that is at the disposal of historians makes it possible to get some idea of ​​the life of the Eastern Mediterranean at the sunset of the Bronze Age - when iron was not yet familiar to mankind. Three and a half millennia ago, huge, often several floors, palaces were built - their ruins were found, in particular, in Crete, as well as during the excavations of the city of Ugarit on the territory of modern Syria.

There was a water supply in the cities, and, apparently, heated water could be supplied to the baths; there was a sewerage system. Population - literate and interested in arts, engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding; handicrafts and metalworking were developed - copper and tin were alloyed, so bronze was obtained.

Reconstruction of a ship from the Mycenaean period

For centuries, there were strong trade relations between the ancient states, merchants transported grain and olive oil, wine and wood, jewelry, figurines of gods,. It was a flourishing of culture in all respects - archaeologists even discovered traces of libraries more than three thousand years old.

However, after centuries of prosperity and development, this Eastern Mediterranean civilization collapsed.

Who killed the ancient civilization: "the peoples of the sea"

The reasons why this beautiful world was destroyed and plunged into oblivion for centuries are still being studied by scientists. Traditionally, the collapse of the civilizations of the Bronze Age is associated with the invasion of the "peoples of the sea" - under this mysterious term various tribes are hidden, which for some reason began in the 13th century. BC. migrate, presumably, from the north of the Balkan Peninsula.

Drawing from a bas-relief of an ancient Egyptian temple: depicts the battle of the Egyptians with the "Sea Peoples" who attacked them

The term "Sea Peoples" is ancient Egyptian; so the uninvited guests were called in the annals of that time.The ethnic composition of the conquerors was variegated: Philistines, Phrygians, Sherdans, Tyrsenes, Tevkras. They apparently did not represent any single force: it all boiled down to piracy, plundering of ports and ships, raids on cities for profit and the capture of slaves. One way or another, the normal course of life, trade and the usual economy came to an end. Very quickly, the eastern Mediterranean was in chaos.

Historians are not inclined, however, to believe that the only reason for this all-round decline is only the "influx of migrants" from distant lands. Most likely, the Bronze Age catastrophe was the result of the impact on the ancient world of several factors at once.

Figurine of the god Baal

First of all, they include natural disasters: drought of the XXII century BC. and the cold snap of the Middle Bronze Age lasting three centuries. When the Nile flooded, it did not reach the marks necessary for agriculture, the map of winds that previously brought rains to arid regions changed. This explains both the massive migrations and the general crisis of the ancient world.

The disruption of trade relations affected the supply of tin, necessary for the production of bronze, and the cost of weapons rose sharply. As another factor that could have made a dubious contribution to the history of the destruction of ancient civilizations, it is worth mentioning tectonic activity in Europe: in any case, about that period there was an eruption of one of the most restless volcanoes in Ireland - Hekla.

These were the Mycenaean swords and vessels

After the disaster

This period in the history of Ancient Greece was called the "Dark Ages", it lasted from the 11th to the 8th century. All the Mycenaean palaces and almost all settlements were destroyed - Athens was preserved, but they also fell into decay. The writing was lost. All spheres of life have degraded - trade has ceased, the cultural level has sharply decreased, the population has decreased by three times.

Those bits of information that make it possible to compose a picture of the catastrophe of the Bronze Age were obtained from a few archaeological sources, from Egyptian records, and in relation to Ancient Greece, mainly from the writings of Homer. The Odyssey and the Iliad were created at the end of the crisis, when the archaic period came, then the policies were born, and the past Dark Ages turned into a part of ancient Greek mythology.

A cosmetic vessel from Ugarit, 13th century BC

Egypt became the only ancient state that was able to revive after decline. Troy, Babylon, Assyria were irrevocably destroyed. The end of the crisis was marked by the rise of the Kingdom of Israel and the emergence of new cities and new states in the territories of the once flourishing ancient kingdoms.

A rare exception to the general sad rule, an example of some prosperity during the Dark Ages was Cyprus, which, however, also lost several large cities, but nevertheless suffered much less damage and even developed. This suggested that this island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea could be the starting point for the spread of most of the "Sea Peoples".

The Iliad manuscript, dated to the 5th century A.D

It is worth mentioning that against the background of the decline, however, the art of iron smelting and some other technologies developed. By the time the crisis was over, the map of the Mediterranean had changed beyond recognition, the culture was thrown back centuries and started development almost from scratch. And before the onset of, say, the Hellenistic period and the conquests of Alexander the Great, there were still about five centuries left.

One of the "peoples of the sea" was called the Garamantes, the ancient people of the Sahara, who were considered great as early as 500 BC.

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