Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss The Bronze Age Collapse, the name given by many historians to what appears to have been a sudden, uncontrolled destruction of dominant civilizations around 1200 BC in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia. Among other areas, there were great changes in Minoan Crete, Egypt, the Hittite Empire, Mycenaean Greece and Syria. The reasons for the changes, and the extent of those changes, are open to debate and include droughts, rebellions, the breakdown of trade as copper became less desirable, earthquakes, invasions, volcanoes and the mysterious Sea Peoples.
John Bennet
Director of the British School at Athens and Professor of Aegean Archaeology at the University of Sheffield
Linda Hulin
Fellow of Harris Manchester College and Research Officer at the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Oxford
Simon Stoddart
Fellow of Magdalene College and Reader in Prehistory at the University of Cambridge
Producer: Simon Tillotson.
United States


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00:00:17enjoy the program hello in the twelfth century bc there was a dramatic change in the kingdoms and empires of the mediterranean a serious of events known as the bronze age collapse over the course of perhaps fifty years the great palaces of the my seniors became ruins the hit
00:00:33i'd empire of anatolia broke into pieces the mysterious see people's attacked egypt literacy disappeared from greece as the iron age arrived a web of trade routes across the region fell apart what's new rulers emerged their kingdoms were much smaller What exactly happened in the twelfth century and perhaps
00:00:51more importantly why that happened on who one is what was who lost his amount of a debate inform other text that remain a new archaeological discoveries with me to discuss the bronze age collapse had john bennett director of the british school in athens on professor of age in
00:01:05archaeology at the university of sheffield linda hewlin research officer the oxford scent of a maritime archaeology at the university of oxford and salmon starter reader in prehistory at the university of cambridge John bennett wanted historians mean by the term the bronze age well the bronze age it's important
00:01:23to remember is our term for for this period on dh it was it's part of a sequence of stone age bronze age in an age which was essentially developed in a prehistoric environment an environment without tax It was developed in the early part of the nineteenth century by
00:01:38christiaan thompson who was director of the danish national museum too Bring order chronological order to the fines from prehistoric scandinavia on dna sequence implies a development where stone was the prime material followed by appeared in which bronze was a prime material and iron took over on dh That
00:02:00brought chronology to appeared that didn't have historical documents to an area that had historical documents that was then generalized to many other parts of the world but one of consequences that is that the bronze age doesn't happen at the same time in every part of the world so
00:02:17in the parts of the world were particularly interested in the bronze age ends around about twelve hundred eleven hundred bc but it starts quite a long time before that How long in greece we would talk about sometime just before three thousand bc so we have about a two
00:02:33thousand year bronze ages it worked but is it different in say hit i kingdom Not in the entire kingdom on dh in places like the hit our kingdom and egypt and song there is a historical chronology whichever likes of supersedes the need for an archaeological material based chronology
00:02:48but we loosely were generally going to be talking about the very great east mediterranean power so let's stack it there for this conversation when did it get going there we're really talking about the second millennium on particularly about the period from about fifteen hundred to twelve hundred when
00:03:06those were the that was the period of the greatest interaction between those major powers the hit items you've mentioned in anatolia the egyptians and the sudden mediterranean on of course the friction between those two powers in the fourteenth and thirteen centuries which took place along the coast of
00:03:26the levant modern not today serial syria lebanon israel and so on you have my scenes and the and then on ammonia on the western fringes you have the mass indians in the aegean world on the babble in is a bit further east was there anything that we could
00:03:39say characterize these kingdoms characterize all of them we can bring them together Well i think you've used the word kingdom they're they're they're they're not democracies that's for sure on dh in the case of the hit heights it's a multi lingual formation so it is properly called an
00:03:59empire it fragmented and came together a little bit in the second millennium and of course at the end of the period we're talking about it fragmented into multiple different forms egypt was mohr uniform in the sense that it was ethnically and linguistically more uniforms so no formerly an
00:04:17empire but egypt expanded into the eastern mediterranean they bring in nana chips and speakers and speakers of other languages as well did they feel part of a group Did they interrelated with trade in a way that made them into dependent and aware that each other's safety was important
00:04:35the textual evans we have perfectly in the amount of letters which belonged to the fourteenth century indicate bc indicate a clear understanding a language if you like of diplomacy of trade of the highest level on dh the shared material culture which which the macedonians to some extent to
00:04:54the west participated in without being reflected textually in those accounts shows that they were using the same kinds of values metals like bronze obviously gold but materials like ivory blue glass and so on are we talking about four or five kingdoms of about the same power their large
00:05:13kingdoms and then you give us some idea of the size of these kingdoms i need roughly the same except egypt of course which is massive well egypt's massive but it's a long thin tube going south well down to into africa the hittite empire i suppose is certainly one
00:05:29of the largest i mean it comprises most of modern turkey on dh into northern syria Now the aegean world is a bit smaller onda certainly not unified at least in my view anyway multiple multiple kingdoms there so so we are talking about some variation in size the tights
00:05:50and egyptians and the babylonians to the east and the syrians coming a bit later a larger some instead of what was the status of bronze as a commodity in the twelfth century Well bronze brought some new properties skills and opportunities and these interacted to give value to this
00:06:07particular commodity One very importance of skill was finding the oars on dh whereas in previous periods you went to one source here you had to bring two sources together and then have the knowledge to transform the copper in the tin by smelting them working with them and then
00:06:26a second situation once you had to melt them together in a very precise ally and it's this control almost scientific control without the sense that we have today that is an essential element of the value of this commodity on another very important property wass that bronze could be
00:06:45recycled so there is a balance in terms of this commodity On the one hand it is being used being placed in the ground sometimes deliberately too offer opportunities to people to display themselves On the other hand you are finding new resources and this sets up the whole situation
00:07:03of trade which will be a major flavor of our later conversation Where did the tin and copper come from It depends where you are situated when you need some mediterranean loosely in the eastern mediterranean one key area wass cyprus for the copper for afghanistan i believe for the
00:07:22ten from the the east but then we should look at this in a much broader spectrum We should not just look at the what i again describes a little local difficulty in the eastern mediterranean and look at it in the eurasian perspective because further west the response to
00:07:39the so called collapse off these kingdoms was not uniformly felt so we must bring into the equation the trade that goes this far north cornwall sardinia on also central estimates bringing together these component parts using newborn skills to put together a new material which has these qualities of
00:07:59display and also as well described later potential for military promise must rather let you forget it let's not anticipate what we might absolutely attend because we've got our own showed your turn its okay the you said it was highly skilled bring these to copper and tin together turn
00:08:17into bronze what level of skill can you tell the listeners was employed well clearly they didn't have scientific laboratories therefore it had to be done by proxy approaches off color smell even taste observing the color of the oars as you found them on also observing the color of
00:08:35the smelting operation so that you knew precisely how much oxygen how much different ingredients who put together to get the precise outcome because if you got the inclusion of an ally wrong by a few percent it wouldn't have the qualities that you're looking for In other words copper
00:08:51was the dominant ninety percent plus whereas some tin was in a smaller proportion So is this trial and arend whether any any manager it's anything remaining saying this is how you do it or was it trying a lot trial and error on the job The great problem is
00:09:07that we don't see or every evidence the trial and error so we see these successes and therefore it's really the outcome the final product that we see when they've actually perfected the system by the time we're talking about which is broadly twelve hundred bc this was a very
00:09:23successful operation what difference would it make to the societies that had bronze It gave them opportunities for exchange on not absolutely new options they built out of the neolithic and the copper age proceeded it but this lifted it to another level on made interaction a very powerful theme
00:09:41within europe linda hearing how intimately it was bronze timed up with power Oh very intimately I mean if you are a pharaoh or hitchhiking you have basically two jobs in life One is to be splendid onto channel Wonderful things throughout your empire by your by your allies And
00:09:59you do that by giving money to temples in dowling temples have fabulous palace is having a big countrywide building program on having the ability to build fortifications And the other is having an army to protect Your charity is so that you can get the stuff that you get
00:10:15through Trade on for those you need bratton's you need bronze for chisels You need bronze you know for cutting stone You need bronze for your weapons so it feels it feels building projects It feels thie arms that enable you to stay a military power What was bronze supplanting
00:10:35home Well copper and stone on stone is used on stone arrowheads continues sometime Coppers in general too soft of the egyptians were at quite a disadvantage when they entered villa van't They didn't have competent bows they largely they didn't have chariot They imported all this technology and some
00:10:56of this was to do with the new fighting techniques that required swords as well and different kinds of sorts but bronze meant that you on the whole you're saying that if you had bronze you're more powerful Yeah and you went from runs to make yourself more yet so
00:11:11the trade increased Yes on that it enables you to inhabit territories which means you can control the trade within those territories Oh can you give us some idea of the web of trade in this in this part of the mediterranean say from cyprus to the eastern on around
00:11:31the world what's going on there were obviously there's going to be copper and ten but there's oil i presume can you give us some idea of the intensity Yes and we have a good idea from the mana letters and other texts which show what you've just been mentioned
00:11:45twice Can you say exactly what they were Okay Demanda letters is an archive from the egyptian capital on dh arkin aren't on its copies of correspondents sent to the king bye bye vassals and by the other great powers And in that we get in the fourteenth century mid
00:12:03fourteenth century on dh they are discussing what they term gift exchange for it is really exchange and so they will be requests for gold which is regarded is like dusted in egypt and they mentioned all the good things so they mentioned golden minton silver they meant and find
00:12:20vessels they mentioned cloth many things that we actually don't recover archaeologically but archaeologically we have mycenaean and cypriot pottery spread all around the region we have jars of oil canaanite jobs moving out levent on we have shipwrecks and shipwrecks give us a very precise window so that is
00:12:42a shipwreck att ala barone haran thirteen hundred that sank off the coast of sudden turkey on this was a large ship for the day that fifteen and a half meters and it carried ten tons of copper one ton of ten which is the precise ratio to make brunt
00:12:58would also carried tear of inthe oil wine some pottery a cz well lots of gold and silver scrap hippo ivory elephant ivory things that would be sent probably to the mycenaean world for making into these fine furnitures and impressive things that would be used and spread around again
00:13:19as part of a gift exchange was destroyed i was a straight specifically pursued i mean they raid each other ships well the amount of letters and other letters do set up a framework of law So we do get if the donkey trains carrying tricked in from afghanistan through
00:13:39syria to a guard for instance they are yes i don't know i don't know you know if they're attacked who pays if your ship is attacked by pirates Who pays if your ship is delayed in port Who pays so when they're not exchanging gifts it's and marriage contracts
00:13:58ah lot of the correspondence is to do with who is response it'll for any kind of pirate activity or or attacks by people on land and so the idea is to try and smooth the wheels of trade nothing much has changed in a way no it's not actually
00:14:16about it's the complications of ownership on hoo hoo how you lay claim to the property you think you have Yes he's already on issue Yes and and the fact that they all right in a caddy and including the egyptians imagine being the diplomatic language of the time it's
00:14:32a diplomatic language of the time it's a club that they enter john bennett let's talk about this collapse let's use the word collapses at the moment what collapsed in the twelfth century Well what could describe it in terms of political collapse which in the sense that the hittite
00:14:52empire fragmented way we we don't know why exactly egypt seems to have retrenched on dh one khun correlate that retrenchment with the appearance of the sea peoples in certain egyptian texts whether we want to link them directly as a cause but but that seems to be part of
00:15:13that phenomenon see people being as it were wondering marauders on was i as presented in italy i mean what we're talking about attacks that were inscribed on the on the temple the mortuary temple med in it huh boo of ramses the third which describe these events both visually
00:15:35and in tax but but they are mean one would have to say this is propaganda so i mean it's not in the interests of the tax to to make these to minimize if you like the threat of these people and so on so that they were there there
00:15:48were these people that were going from place to place and having in some cases destructive effect yes on dh there are other references another text from elsewhere to to them so that's one thing else and then i was going to say that in describing it one could describe
00:16:02if you like the the the what happened on the ground and in the case of the mycenaean world we have a wave of destruction at the mycenaean palace centers which center around about twelve hundred ways we conduct those were precisely what sort of destruction world we're talking about
00:16:20in in the case of twelve hundred burnt destructions where we preserve them in the case of pilots for example the whole palace was burned quite intensively the olive oil that was there added to the burning on dh fortunately in the case of pilots this preserved a set of
00:16:36tax about a thousand texts in the the greek language but the script called linear b it doesn't refer to marauders unfortunately but that those were preserved by those burns burnt destructions before that there may have been a wave of earthquake destructions around about twelve fifty beats nighties with
00:16:54that might well identifying it definitively as another quick destruction is quite difficult archaeologically but but shifting walls and sometimes we get skeleton's preserved suggests that the earlier destructions in the thirteenth century about twelve fifty of my senior in terrence in particular which are very close together may have
00:17:12bean earthquake destruction you're talking about and you're you're several other things a lot of things coming together but the effect is thies great palace kingdoms were under threat being burnt destroyed demolished one one another yeah all of them assed far as we can tell all of them some
00:17:29parts of the gin in the northwest peloponnese for example seemed to be in the period following seemed to have some or don't seem to have a a population decline in the sense that sites continue in relatively large numbers the region around peel us for example in south western
00:17:46peloponnese are just referring to seems to be almost deserted for a couple of centuries after this so they're so they're differential if acts in some places may have if you like not exactly benefited but not suffered to the same degree but generally speaking if you take a step
00:18:00backwards it's it's a very broad wave of dis structure can you develop that simon senators to what sort of changes are occurring in europe around this time well i think we don't still don't much first century bc although one of your colleagues says that everything really pivots on
00:18:14eleven seventy seven bc which is we might come to that because we can say that i think you can go on a date i knew i never mind useful please remember one one seven seven now what else is going on Well for further west the passion is much
00:18:27more varied and there are certain areas like sicily protected the sight of sap sauce which comes to an end at a broader the same time on dh there you have a lot of mycenaean pottery coming in and that comes relatively speaking rapidly tor halt southern earnestly very broadly
00:18:43similar in terms of patent little mortar it's a bit difficult to date it but it seems to continue in its small low key way further north though if you go towards centralised lee this seems to be a moment of growth And so what you find in the interstices
00:19:01as i like to call my mother's between other big places opportunities of being taken so there are points of growth which move onto the later phase after the collapse and of course that is what happens in central italy that is where the etruscans and the latin's rise later
00:19:16on they rise out of initially several centuries later but they arise out of these opportunities that have been presented seven cents seven cents is quite a stretch it isn't really talk about collapse before you rush to revival count we really well and just isn't mutual you can we
00:19:34john gave us some of the what's being called the perfect storm going did you miss anything What about climate change Well that there is a date eleven fifty which the department in belfast particular emphasizes from tree ring data as a particular event now it's very difficult to fix
00:19:53this absolutely but because it would have taken in order for a society to suffer from climate it shouldn't just be one year it needs to be a range of years on if you're in a vulnerable place like mortar even one year may have an effect but if you're
00:20:07in a more continental area or somewhere with a number of rival values such as greece you may be able to simply borrowed from your neighbor's deployed the crops in the different way so the response is very varied according to the geography that we're dealing with that's a subject
00:20:23to climate change are there any Is there anything that is disrupting the trade I mean i'm still having i think i suppose i'm looking for it's got a key cause and i if there what would you say Well it could be called a couple of two or three
00:20:38of the key causes as anything anything being emitted by john in this summary well i think many of these societies had very difficult problems in passing on succession today we have institutions which are very very organized legally framed on dh succession in all sorts of different ways are
00:20:58very easily understood but in these societies protecting the west where i'm talking about they're often leveling mechanisms by which if someone got too powerful they had to give a big feast they had to bury a large amount of the bronze in either a horned system that very much
00:21:12takes place in northern europe all they had to put their materials into a burial and so a lot of the aggrandizement a lot the aggrandizement was was was controlled by this process I don't understand how you and grandad yourself by burying your loot well this is this is
00:21:30the way by which one controls that aggrandizement in other words the bearing you were forced by the understandings of your society that it isn't it is not permitted to become too powerful This is further west and further into temperate europe In other words on there good ethnographic can't
00:21:50solve this the potlatch is one that's always referred to where you throw a big feast in order to bring you you get a lot of prestige in your lifetime and or perhaps over a few months but in terms of passing on that wealth your successes that is not
00:22:03allowed on this leads to on instability in many of these societies or it can lead either to an instability or to a society which doesn't grow the same rate that we see in the gym into here and we're still there still the troubling ah factors i i think
00:22:19it is a lot of these things happened at around the same time to a lot of these kingdoms i'm rather taken by the mysterious sea people who and partly that damon on dh they were recorded by the jeffries whose task in life was to record everything that happened
00:22:33in the world on dh what effect they having in effect is is something underneath going on like the that gulf in ron what's going on Part of the problem in answering this is archaeological resolution even with well dated text in that there seems to be in an instability
00:22:52from for about fifty or sixty years or maybe more so what seems like an event get to magnified across the narrative So yes ramus is the third yes in med in a taboo he records a battle in year eight where he says there is an alliance that the
00:23:10peoples of the north made an alliance against him and come federal isi and that they fought to see battle it was probably actually within the nile doubter itself on the police yet rent where he defeated on alliance of different people andi also defeated them on land And the
00:23:26scary thing about the land lot was the change there is that for the first time we see people that's not just soldiers but cart with women and children So these are people coming to settle And so he has this narrative of a big battle And undoubtedly something like
00:23:43that happened But if you examine his record there are parts of it which are actually repeated from the first wave of what you might call See people's onda merrin petar Were these people coming from the side interrupting please so that he's taking part of the narrative and adding
00:24:01it in fact the only first to to the checker in the west is being off the sea on others are it's a shared and for instance who me mentions originally when these people were identified people scholars made very very simplistic equations So the shirt and kind of sounds
00:24:18like sardinia the palace it are the philistines and they probably are So there was some very fast I'll equations but the shirt din first appear in the mid fourteenth century as mercenaries in ugarit on dh they kick around in the egyptian army They fight on both sides in
00:24:39the egyptian army They're settled from ramses the second just before morning he settles veterans in a village on dh that settlement continue through to ramus sees the third he's still taking tax from them so these people are actually spread across some of them are causing trouble others aren't
00:25:00but in the battle with ramsey's the third you do get some new people like palace it and the check it away with us who are never heard ofthe before and they make alliances and they probably are coming in from outside so they're attacking from outside maybe a focus
00:25:15on this john bennett would be to talk just about the hit i ts u have a great kingdom there great buildings that not disappeared the dye palaces and so on so do we know specifically what can you tell us specifically what happened to the lights what the the
00:25:32central place huh to josh the capital of the hittite empire was destroyed in the same period we have actually wonderfully preserved grain stores there which has been a godsend for archeo boston is to understand his heart farming practices for example but the attacked emperor had throughout the from
00:25:54the fifteenth century to to the end as it were have had always bean trying to bring in it's that we're trying to get away from it particularly on the west so there's a there's a advent with your sewer there's there's the possibility that miller wonder which many people
00:26:09have equated with my meters on the west coast of turkey was it was taken over by by mycenaean greeks and then we captured again by the tights and so on so it was that it was a core in central anatolia off hit height speakers on dh then a
00:26:24siri's of of varying lee tide polities around about that that what when when at the time of the collapse we have i only know the name was last hittite empire emperor who was called triple your mother second on dh he loses his dates he started in twelve of
00:26:46seven we don't know when he finished but we have you it's that despite yourself but there are reasons which you can tell us all about about why that particular great city great kingdom disappeared i can't i'm afraid it's part of the same the same the same phenomenon it
00:27:05seems it's on we have an archaeological black hell way have a textual black hole we have well what happens is that the this fragments into a serious of what's called the neo hit our kingdoms which are essentially smaller scale kingdoms using still using a particular script prolific hit
00:27:26i was actually delivery in language that continued that continue later on and so on now simon so you could break cover we you would then owe you admit destruction significant changes but you question collapse i think it very much depends on where you're looking at again in the
00:27:47europeans fear well it's stick to bet with that we've we were teased our listeners into the eastern mediterranean cyprus that got run around turkey and that lot egypt and sound So would you stick that it gets to its enough Okay i think that that could easily be which
00:28:05in political organization which is leads us to think it's collapse in on the technical terms which would be news and archaeology hierarchy is very clear to understand with apex wise head to rocky is a term that is much use in current parlance which means that you have within
00:28:24a society competing groups almost factions that are working together So the archaeological record gives an impression of something radically different on dh so it may just be up It may be a more pleasant way of living in some respects And indeed if i could give you again threaten
00:28:40you with a picture from the west a little bit there all these societies which are held mawr in balance where hung rocky is not imposed on which continue their village life completely unaffected by this collapse at all so that there are some examples which i should also refer
00:28:58to such a cz in the terra mari in northern italy is a very interesting example is it lies north of this continued development of the true area on dilation from right from the bronze aged tour in relation which is where they're trusting the latin's and start it continues
00:29:15from the bronze head right into the arnage that has very deep seated roots it's not something that starts a few centuries later but the terra mari beautifully contrast with that there at an earlier date and i think this is important point a lot and we can look at
00:29:27spain as well number of these collapses are not in sequence with what is happening in the eastern mediterranean so it's inherent in the the community's themselves that they change their way of operating they moved from a more hierarchical wei tau amore competitive internal wei fei but isn't this
00:29:45time yeah we've got that on that's very well expressed but we go back to the hit tights there must own ian's sorry that the my senior nhs the babylonians and so on that we've been talking about on the outrageous ship of egypt they are being attacked destroyed on
00:30:02collapsing isn't a bad word on alo things papa begin a few centuries later there's a struggle so there are exceptions of course but you just don't get taken up in the mainstream events Communications were like that and of course there are exceptions that always are especially in times
00:30:16of poor communication but wouldn't you agree Well i'm from all your notes that this could be called some kind of end of something or other well i like the lake brian coming bronze age comes to an end i'm going to continue my slightly western orientated polemic on point
00:30:33out there's a lot of this evidence is texture in other words it is very much in the minds of the people who are on the losing end of the spectrum they they want to make a fuss because their economic system is falling apart than no longer in control
00:30:47i'm going to go to linda hewlin yes because you pointed toe take forever and you run out of power for you think she's gonna back you up I am going to back certain cyprus isn't interesting case in point with this cyprus was the main engine of copper in
00:31:05the eastern mediterranean on dh the city of angkor me for instance is more or less opposite ugarit and they clearly developed in tandem swapping tin and copper with one another on the routes east and west they both suffer from pirates at one point the hit heights claimed to
00:31:23invade side cypress Although there's no riel archaeological evidence for that ugarit is clearly destroyed god it's a very important it zapata support yes and it's it's the nexus of the land routes on the sea routes are moving copper and tin and over fine things now the interesting thing
00:31:42about cyprus is its geography It has this central toward us massie on then squeezed around all of it in the middle are the copper bearing deposits so although we don't know the ancient term for alice year could mean the whole kingdom or it could just mean a few
00:31:58towns and we really don't know it basically means that it was impossible for one city or one entity to control the carpet rate because they all had a access to it and they were all close to the sea so at the end of this period um cyprus reorganizes
00:32:15itself some of the countryside stories places disappear but anchor me after twelve hundred actually has its finest hour it completely rebuild itself on a new grid uses lots of fashion fancy as la masonry invest in temples it has some people that's new york minute are we are we
00:32:38is the idea of the bronze age collapse on drifting away from us as we do this program will be sued under the trades descriptions act is that what's happening No i think i think there's a there is a phenomenon that happens in the eastern mediterranean which i think
00:32:51is probably best described as a political collapse but a cz linda says the we are victims off the fact that we have textural information for for that and we and we very much i want to read the text very literally so what i think we can say is
00:33:08that the trade evidence but about textural and archaeological suggests that these these entities that bosnian's on the west on dso and were tightly bound up in a shared enterprise enterprise where value was very much shared across that And so these these these commodities moving around were essentially what
00:33:26i think it's beginning to happen in the approach twelve hundred is that the ability of these states to monopolize that trade when it happens But certainly by twelve hundred is breaking down and so we have people working under the radar as it were there's a little bit of
00:33:43evidence of this in in in the shipwrecks where there's a a shipwreck the dates about twelve hundred a century after the lebron rack whose cargo looks rather different from that of the lebron record doesn't look like they're a state sponsored high level cargo Now simon the bronze age
00:34:02seeds and of course it wasn't tomorrow morning to the iron age on dh they overlap on dh that has a huge effect What was it And was it destructive in certain parts of the mediterranean Well the un age brings obviously a new material to bear but but it
00:34:19doesn't happen rapidly The early on age involves very little iron and it's really only the end of the iron age that you get use officially and for the one day to talking about well we're talking really effective use of on isn't until the third fourth century bc certainty
00:34:36and most of europe potential little bit are there in other areas perhaps in greece a little bit earlier But but so with the full on ageism much later phenomenon and indeed it is absolutely true that when that's transition takes place you see this very well in this country
00:34:52that seem to be a junk drop in circulation of all metals At about seventy seven hundred bc so some there is a former decline Maybe we could give it a term collapse in terms of trading enterprise at that time before it picks up again as the iron age
00:35:09as a new commodity begins to take roll its proper role on bronze also takes a new role Because bronze doesn't lose its role it just shifts its position that it seems that the hearing is that these great palace kingdoms do disappear on dh A few centuries later they're
00:35:29replaced by much smaller states and then we have the great and growth of the great great greek states and so on So there's this gap in between on the maps out over the time scares i got from you three to three hundred at least maybe more years What
00:35:44happens then in that time in that time We're sort of not sure yes you can say that is this hinge on dh the states in the near east will the cement rain it the week that we knew off disappear um cyprus contained the greeks totem not upward and
00:36:00they have not yet appeared everything is on a much smaller scale but trade does continue john referred to the point area shipwreck which is separate tint on dh cretin commodities sailing towards greece so you know that kind of surplus on dh smaller people who knows someone who knows
00:36:19someone who's got a boat and no where they can sell it continues and provides a long term persistence so that when in the iron age you get the spread of the finnish ins right across the mediterranean when you get the greeks spreading across the mediterranean they're doing it
00:36:33as smaller entities it's not these enormous states that come together and organized huge donkey trains or huge ships like the old overrun so the hinge is is moving towards more merchant driven trade on smaller scale to take that going to take that on john is this gap decline
00:36:55collapse whatever is this the trigger for a new form of organization for ah eh not so much a resurgence Is that a new invention of what thes states cities that could be Absolutely i think i think what what the one could argue that i am which of course
00:37:15unlike copper and tin is pretty much everywhere and so it is readily accessible and you don't have to do also you don't have to build long distance trade routes to find it and so on you can take a sort of broad view that that that undermines this this
00:37:30ability to monopolize long distance trade and therefore smaller entities can get involved if you take the g in a sort of barometer The cyprus is very important in the bronze age for copper but in the twelfth century it's that it's the origin of certain types of iron objects
00:37:45which come in his prestige objects into the aegean on dh in the in the opposite direction you have pottery coming in from italy in the aegean So if you like the aegean is drawing in from from both ends because of a shift in the way the trade system
00:38:01is working you've talked about progression simon and i teased you about it but is there any sense in which we can see that the trust cones in the greek emerged from andamans unions and the hittites and so on Or is it let's start again I think all opportunities
00:38:17like this create new opportunities in other words if there is the collapse there is a new people there are people there who who see that but if he wasn't new people doing what what new people and doing what i think they have new but they're not necessary new
00:38:32people in a biological sense but there will be people who knew in the motivation is indeed lindros mention people who are organized politically in a different way on so you get the emergence off different types of political organizations the palace in greece the small small small small city
00:38:51state which is mainly based on voting and males but still as a democratic heart at least in principle women is it exactly that's right on then the transference probably are a little bit more like what proceeded they are very rich plutocrats and they retain ah family organization with
00:39:11political organization within their midst so that they don't have the same corporate unity and perhaps that that greece does and they are a lot general speaking larger in scale than the average greek setted state to sow their various versions of what emerges there isn't one ruling the latin's
00:39:27because the successful people had a different version which incorporated other peoples and the course of time this is a very lump in question but we need the end of the program and is there a sense in which there were any way for the greeks let's take the grease
00:39:39and there's just just sit with the greeks who will look across what they called the dark ages say well we're not gonna go like that because look what happened to them i don't think there was that much of a cultural memory but i think seafaring nations have an
00:39:54underlying persistence and knowledge that is independent of states so i could bring the finishings in a cz well they were famed for their fast ships Yes they suffered destructions a t end of the late bronze age and then they were hemmed in by syrian expansion The only way
00:40:09to go was into the mediterranean but they were probably drawing upon sailors knowledge of roots anyway and of course the mediterranean the winds and the currents are still the same so they're going to broadly take you in the same frame work on dh all trade was personal so
00:40:25you traded with people you knew and families you knew and you inherited those personal relationships through through you know across the generations so that probably continued well i think there is a sense in which the greeks of the eight seventh century bc were aware of the as it
00:40:43were mycenaean passes we would call it they put their heroic past we can see it in in the americ text which remembers a time which clearly wass what we would associate with the mycenaean period It was a time in which it was recognized that things were greater than
00:41:00they are now yet ironically the construction that's placed in the heroin in the homeric poems describes a world which looks much less impressive It looks much more like the eighth century world eh So there is that that that historical memory i think and of course in the sequence
00:41:15the other metal metallic sequences that were in he sees the gold silver bronze iron age of decline that he describes in his prime He has to insert the age of heroes just following the bronze age before the iron age because he knows historically there that was a period
00:41:30that he has to take a count off and there may have been i don't know ruins enough remaining of magnificence remaining that made them think it's time to finish the program by the look of it Okay i was there in one fifty eighty eric bennett in the healing
00:41:47and simon so that next week we were talking about william blake's songs of innocence and experience Thank you very much for listening and the in our time podcast gets some extra time now with a few minutes of bonus material from melvin and his guests your own now blow
00:42:04out that yes we're going to do that p s i e g o business we got to get it in so on the new bridge i'm sorry i move the bomb the program before that was come back to something you're saying at the beginning about about bronze a
00:42:24transformational materialism where it does seem to have quality to be changed the way in which people have interacted across across the entirety of europe right into these and mediterranean is not its plentiful enough for him to be widely available but it's not it's it's rare enoughto have to
00:42:40capture those those roots and someone so i think you have a you have a real change in you come into the bronze age with with things like amber for example moving from the baltic down ultimately into the aegean world and so on that's andi i think one of
00:42:53the transformations is the way in which the body is presented this is something my colleague marie louise sorensen in cambridge would really want to emphasize that this gave new opportunities presenting the body not just men but also women and we always think of this as a very marshall
00:43:07short sword led experience and either saul was a major invention of the bronze age but we also didn't we say that last i'm sorry but i think that's a good idea rapist thing on the end there were many of us were thinking on the end there we didn't
00:43:25look at the fool but that stops by them but the presentation the body i think that there's a wonder if i could be discussed it's a wonderful our article by someone called portrait home which is absolutely beautiful it describes the body beautiful this is very masculine in fact
00:43:40andi marry louise would want to add the feminine side to it but but that's really shows the new potential this material it's very sensible it is almost a a gold that is more widely distributed that in other words it and it is something you've made yourself so you
00:43:59have power over it and almost a magical cosmological ways so i think these are elements that perhaps we should add the equation but there are also a very practical and utilitarian things there's a sight i must seem a true on the north african coast of egypt which there
00:44:16was a small island there where mediterranean sailors would paul in on one of the thing and in exchange for us to jake shells one of the things they did shows what an ostrich egg shells which one in the rest of the mediterranean they would take small crucibles with
00:44:33them and make on the spot fishhooks arrowheads needles things that population there and possibly the egyptian garrison nearby couldn't easily access So it was it was the use of small crucibles is part of the armory off traders moving around the mediterranean on ships saying well we've got this
00:44:54small bit of bronze what do you want made We'll make it for you now so i like the creepy thing and being family firms talking of family firms over the centuries and over the sea you know what is interesting about the fall of the guard is that if
00:45:09it hadn't for fallen we may still have ended up with the same kind of situation because we could see in the texts for instance that one trader was exempted from tax on his goods coming back from crete which implies everyone else was taxed But he wasn't We have
00:45:28other texts where the way the society was organized was that in return for land various people had to offer services often military were not always mr called pil ku service and towards the end of this period we start getting sales of land for which the pill koo services
00:45:46stripped away This means that eventually you will end up with the class of people who have wealth is independent ofthe royal patronage brought you know similar to something that happened in in in europe in the middle ages with the rise of the merchants It got halted by these
00:46:01attacks But the end result was the same that in the iron age we have merchant lead trade One of these interested me about the bronzes that in one or two cases but of course it was flashed very heavily in warfare that bronze armor i wasn't as good as
00:46:18beaten other there's a very fine experiment on which we used to have a picture in our museum where john coles who was the bronze age specialist paradoxically held the leather shield against the politic archaeologist who was holding the bronze on it's Quite clear who won in this particular
00:46:37battle and indeed a lot of another shield the leather shield wanted on dh Indeed ah lot of this armor is for show and parade It was not necessarily effective made out It was it was too engage in psychological on dh one upmanship If they publish it enough and
00:46:57stood facing the sun they could blind in in exactly that That that's sort of the fact that i think we're being we're being seduced by the producer tea or coffee There are more than seven hundred programs to download and listen to for free from the in our time
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