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Dark Age foxes Climate Change modellers

19 November 2014

At http://phys.org/print335450652.html … and http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/11/17/climate-change-was-not-to-blame-fo… … does not concern the end of the Bronze Age in the Aegean and Western Asia but concerns the end of the Bronze Age in Europe which occurred somewhat later. Hence, they are not foxed by the Dark Age of Greece and the Levant, for example, which was my first reading, but by a piece of stretched chronology, between a 100 and 200 years, evident in the first millennium BC and an artifact of the calibration method. The Early Iron Age is poorly documented in the UK and many hill forts once assumed to have been built at that time have been redated to the preceding European Late Bronze period (between 1000 and 800BC). Basically, a period has opened up with not a lot of evidence of human activity and this has been put down to a drastic fall in population numbers. Baillie located a low growth tree ring event around 800BC and this has generally been associated with the onset of a wetter conditions, known as the sub Atlantic Period. It appears to have been a cool and very wet phase of climate. Baillie dated his event a decade or so after 800BC which is a bit different from the date the researchers have deduced by Bayesian C14 methodology that comes out around 750BC. The Bayesian method is basically an average of a series of dates but some might think it is relevant here as it comes up close to Velikovsky's 747BC number (see Worlds in Collision for the significance of this). Baillie's tree ring date is closer to the First Olympiad in 776BC, so one can speculate as one might desire but something else should be borne in mind when doing so. The drop in population appears to be related to the calibration methodology in that phantom centuries would indeed show little evidence of human activity.

In the UK and most of Europe the Middle Bronze Age mostly corresponds with the Late Bronze age in the Aegean and Western Asia – with some overlap. In the UK, as elsewhere, it was warm and agreeable and society flourished and population numbers with it. Most of the farms and tracks in the UK were laid out at this time and they mainly persisted into the Iron Age, the Roman era, the A/S period and all the way down to the Medieval landscape. The Late Bronze period appears to have been fairly well populated but the actual boundary with the Early Iron phase, around 800BC, is somewhat blurred – and it is here we have this loss of activity. What exactly the hill forts were all about is another conumdrum as they were clearly not all occupation sites and may have had a ritual role. Hill forts on high ground were open to the elements – would you want to live in a wet and cold and windy location. Therefore, archaeologists nowadays tend to think of them as temporary refuges in times of tribal warfare, places where games and celebrations took place at particular dates in the calendar, or simply trading emporiums that doubled up as places to store grain as well as defensive positions in times of trouble. Other hill forts were clearly occupied – but not necessarily permanently. They display evidence of house plans, for example, and rubbish middens, with pottery and various other debris of life in the Iron Age. However, hill forts were still being built, or altered, right up to the Roman invasion. Some were reoccupied after the Romans left Britain. What we seem to have is a 100 to 200 year discrepancy caused by the calibration method opening up a gap in the chronology. Hence, the conclusions of the researchers in this instance, decoupling climate change from a drop in the population numbers, is perhaps entirely irrelevant to the facts of history – whether it had warmed or it had cooled.

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