Monday, November 19, 2012

Olympia: An Early Dark Age (1200-800 BC)

The eastern Mediterranean world entered a dark age, or period of significant decline and collapse, between 1200 and 800 BC. Causes of this decline included drought, famine, class conflict, political disorder, and external invasion. These resulted in widespread destruction of property, collapse of civilizations, and human death.

According to tradition, Myceneans began their war against Troy in 1194 BC and destroyed that city 10 long years later. For the Trojans, their collapse began then.

The darkness, however, soon engulfed the Myceneans as well. No sooner had the victors returned home when their own civilization began its centuries-long decline. Central political authority collapsed. Small groups and individuals roamed the countryside and committed random acts of violence. Maritime trade stopped. People lost the ability to read, write, and calculate. The alphabet in use at the time, called Linear B, disappeared, never to be used again. Artists and artisans stopped using their skills. Cities and towns were abandoned and some never resettled. Population shrank.

In Anatolia, the Hittite empire reached its peak of its power and prosperity around 1350 BC. By 1150, it too had collapsed primarily from internal conflicts between rival rulers and external attack by invaders.

In the Levant, Canaanites faced attack by Philistines from the west beginning in 1200 BC.

Invaders at this time even attempted to take control of Egypt. Fighting these invaders drained the central treasury. Master craftsmen working on the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings went on strike in 1158, the first labor strike in recorded history, to protest their ruler’s failure to provide them with enough food to eat.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.