FALL OF THE CYCLOPES: UNDERSTANDING THE COLLAPSE OF THE MYCENAEAN PALACE STATES

Open Access
Author:
Cornman, Kyle
Area of Honors:
Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Gonzalo Rubio, Thesis Supervisor
  • Erin Mc Kenna Hanses, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Mycenaean
  • Bronze Age
  • Collapse
  • Resilience
  • Ancient History
  • Glocalism
  • Climate Change
  • Systems Collapse
  • International Trade
Abstract:
The Aegean polities of the Mycenaean Palatial Period (c. 1400 – 1200 BCE) were home to some of the most impressive feats of architecture and striking concentrations of precious and exotic goods not only of the period, but indeed of Aegean history. The Mycenaean material burst onto the historical record in the final centuries of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronze Age. Yet, by the end of this period, it had virtually disappeared from the archaeological record. Much ink has consequentially been spilled in the hopes of answering why and how this occurred. This paper will provide an overview of causal factors focused upon by previous scholarship and will lay out a compelling process by which some of these factors would have acted in conjunction to bring about the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization. It will consider new data pertaining to the shifting climatic conditions of the end of the Bronze Age. It will also make a particular point of avoiding the oft-made mistake of previous explanations in placing particular emphasis on any one contributing factor, but will rather discuss how the contributing factors of collapse played off and exacerbated one another to bring about the collapse. Finally, the pertinence of this ancient collapse to the conditions of the modern global system will be discussed in the concluding of the paper.