Archaeology: Drought probably brought down the Hittite Empire

Around 1300 BC The mighty empires of the Hittites, Assyrians, Egyptians and Mycenaeans ruled the eastern Mediterranean. Their written sources tell of a thriving and interconnected world. A good century later, around 1170 BC. BC, these same states were in serious trouble. Sturt Manning of Cornell University in Ithaca and other experts have now presented evidence that central Anatolia was experiencing a severe drought at the time. Accordingly, a climatic extreme was probably a key factor in the fall of the Hittite Empire.

Around 1170 BC the political state systems of the Hittites and Mycenaeans had disintegrated, while the Assyrians and Egyptians had withdrawn to their core areas. The events mark the end of a historical epoch in the Near East – the Bronze Age, which lasted from about 3000 to 1180 BC. – and they mark the beginning of a new phase, the Iron Age, which stretches from about 1180 to 330 B.C. BC extended.

Scientists are intensively discussing what triggered the catastrophe at the end of the Bronze Age – so far they have identified various causes: Metal processing and war technology have changed, and there have also been massive migration movements and invasions by the so-called Sea Peoples; there would have been wars between states, climate change, famine and epidemics. Either, according to the assumptions, the events occurred individually or several at the same time. Researchers are therefore also considering the idea of ​​the “perfect storm”: everything would have happened at the same time, causing entire state systems to collapse…

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