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slowly getting there

4 February 2015

Mainstream is slowly getting its head around the idea that something peculiar happened at the end of the Bronze Age. Claude Schaeffer was making the point 70 years ago – but his work was largely ignored as too daring to contemplate. At www.q-mag.org/cyprus-salt-lakes-exonerate-peoples-of-the-sea-from-causin… … we learn that a salt lake at Larnaca on Cyprus has revealed evidence of a long drought from an analysis of pollen grains in lake sediments which coincides with the end of the Late Bronze Age. Ann Marie de Grazia provides links to two articles which can be downloaded free of charge and in full, one published in 2013 in PLOS ONE online journal and the other in 2012 in the Journal of Archaeological Science (by researchers from the University of Paul Sabatier in Toulouse).

The drought therefore coincides with i) the Greek Dark Age, and ii) the drought that struck Egypt in mid to late dynasty 20, and iii) the droughts associated with the Mid Assyrian period of Tiglath Pileser I and Ashur bel Kala. Changes in carbon isotopes and local plant species suggest the salt lakes were once part of a sea harbour. However, a drop in temperature by as much as 2 degrees celsius may have caused crop failure and subsequently, famine and strife – setting people on the move. In another study, at the University of New Mexico, it has already been suggested there was a global temperature fall at this point in time on the basis that lower sea surface temperatures may have led to less evaporation and therefore less precipitation. The other alternative is that the rain tracks across the globe shifted, possibly as a result of a shift in the jet streams (which are in turn affected by lower temperatures and therefore perhaps a symptom of some other cause, such as an opaque atmosphere).

However, we are only halfway there. The climate change was clearly in response to something else and the Sea Peoples must be seen as people set in motion, not simply by lower temperatures and reduced crops but as a result of whatever it was that caused the destruction of so many ancient cities and settlements.

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