1177 BC – The Year The World Collapsed

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By the beginning of the 12th century BC, an event so catastrophic had occured that it lead to the downfall of numerous ancient civilisations, including the Ancient Egyptians. So what were the repurcussions of such a disaster, and what could have caused it?

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This period of time saw an unprecedented level of destruction of numerous Bronze Age civilisations. It was a volatile time with numerous wars and battles occuring throughout the region. In fact, expert of the time period and author Drews wrote in 1993 “Within a period of forty to fifty years at the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the twelfth century almost every significant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was destroyed, many of them never to be occupied again”.

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Evidence of the mass downfall across the region has been discovered by researchers. In Anatolia it was found that every single site of some importance had a destruction layer, including of course, Troy which was destroyed at least twice before it was eventually abandoned until Roman times.

In Greece, the collapse saw many cities being completely abandoned as well as huge decreases in the populations of others. It also sparked what is now known as the Greek Dark Ages, a period which lasted for around 400 years.

There were many more cities that show evidence of destruction across Cyrpus, Syria and Southern Levant.

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Though the exact cause of the event remains something of a mystery, it is thought that there were a number of contributing factors that lead to the catastrophe. Seeing how most of these civilisations were reliant on one another for trade, the downfall of one would soon have lead to a domino effect on the others. So what are the possible causes?

Some experts point to environmental reasons, such as climate change, drought and volcanic eruptions. Events such as these would have lead to large scale crop failures and would have been nigh impossible for early civilisations to predict.

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There are also several cultural factors that likely played a part in the huge demise. There is evidence to suggest that large numbers of migrants swarmed the region, with numerous raids taking place as a result. It is thought that the reasons for such large scale migration could have included drought and natural disasters. This, coupled with the appearance of more modern and deadly warfare techniques and technologies in the hands of such intruders could have easily lead to the destruction of ancient civilisations who were still using chariot armies.