Updated: Jun 19
The Late Bronze Age Collapse, often referred to as the Mycenaean Palatial Civilization Collapse, was a period of time – roughly between the years of 1250-1000 B.C. - that was violent, and catastrophically disruptive to cultures, social systems, government institutions, languages, ethnic identities, trade routes, literacy, and technologies.
During these years, all of the large urban centers and governing systems of the Mediterranean, the Aegean, and most of Southwestern Asia, collapsed – leaving behind, after a period of turmoil and mass migration, the isolated village cultures of the Greek Dark Ages. This period of time saw the end of the various Mycenaean Kingdoms of the Mediterranean, the Hittite Empire, and the New Kingdom of Egypt.
During this period, many cities were violently destroyed. Some never repopulated, such as Hattusas and Mycenae, and others walled themselves off in defensive posture. As the historian Robert Drews noted:
It was “the worst disaster in Ancient History, even more
calamitous than the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.”
Many explanations of these events have been proposed, mostly focused on one state or on the Eastern Mediterranean by itself. Invasions and migrations, social revolutions, and ecological disasters have all been suggested as the main causes for the collapse of the states.
Since all these explanations have some foundation in the historical record, we may conclude that a variety of causes was probably at the root of the changes. Military clashes and social rebellions may have been the main reason for the destruction of individual sites. What made each separate cause more important was that it contributed to the unraveling of an entire system that had characterize