The Bronze Age Collapse - Before the Storm - Extra History - Part 1

Extra History
24 Jun 201707:45
EducationalLearning
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TLDRThe Bronze Age Collapse remains one of history's greatest enigmas, witnessing the rapid decline of thriving civilizations from Egypt to Greece around 1200-1150 BCE. This period saw the disappearance of international trade, regression in technology and art, and the near extinction of writing. Despite the grandeur they achieved, including wonders like the Great Pyramids and the palace at Knossos, the reasons for this collapse remain a mystery, with cities abandoned and records scarce, leaving historians to piece together the puzzle of this dark age in human history.

Takeaways
  • 🏙️ The Bronze Age Collapse is a significant historical mystery involving the rapid decline of thriving civilizations along the Mediterranean from Egypt to Greece.
  • 🔍 Between 1200 and 1150 BCE, many Bronze Age cities were found burned and leveled, marking the near-simultaneous collapse of these civilizations within a single human lifetime.
  • 🌍 The collapse led to the disappearance of international trade, regression in pottery and construction, the vanishing of centralized government, and the near-extinction of the written word.
  • 📚 The ability to read and write declined, with some areas losing the skill entirely, while others clung to it desperately.
  • 🏛️ Egypt, during this period, was the most powerful and sophisticated civilization, benefiting from the predictability and fertility of the Nile River.
  • 🛶 The Nile also served as a crucial trade route and communication channel, facilitating Egypt's military and political strength.
  • 🥇 Egypt's wealth, including its access to gold from the conquered kingdom of Kush, allowed it to expand and maintain a strong presence in the Mediterranean.
  • ⚔️ The Hittites, controlling most of Anatolia, were a militaristic society with economic advantages in tin and copper, which were essential for bronze production.
  • 🏙️ The Assyrians, though not directly involved in the collapse, were a significant force in the region, often at odds with both the Hittites and Egyptians.
  • 🛳️ The Mycenaeans, proto-Greeks who controlled much of southern Greece and Crete, were seafarers and industrial leaders, known for their engineering and artistic prowess.
Q & A
  • What is the Bronze Age Collapse?

    -The Bronze Age Collapse refers to a period in history where major Bronze Age civilizations along the crescent from modern-day Egypt to Greece suddenly collapsed, reducing their cities and cultures to rubble within a few decades.

  • When did the Bronze Age Collapse occur?

    -The Bronze Age Collapse occurred between 1200 and 1150 BCE.

  • What were the consequences of the Bronze Age Collapse?

    -The consequences included the disappearance of international trade networks, widespread economic decline, and loss of written language in some areas.

Outlines
00:00
🏺 The Bronze Age Collapse: A Historical Mystery

This paragraph introduces the Bronze Age Collapse, a period of rapid decline that affected civilizations from Egypt to Greece around 1200 to 1150 BCE. It highlights the sudden disappearance of international trade, regression in pottery and monument construction, and the vanishing of centralized government and certain skills. The written word nearly becomes extinct, with some regions losing literacy entirely. The cause of the collapse remains unknown due to shrinking societies, abandoned cities, lack of records, and the decline in permanent construction materials.

05:03
🌍 Powerhouses of the Late Bronze Age

This paragraph discusses the major powers of the late Bronze Age, including Egypt, the Hittites, the Assyrians, and the Mycenaeans. Egypt, with its wealth and sophistication, controlled much of the Mediterranean coast and had a strong centralized bureaucracy and military. The Hittites, known for their militaristic society, controlled Anatolia and had access to copper from Cyprus and tin from the Taurus Mountains. The Assyrians, though lacking direct Mediterranean ports, were a balancing force, often pushing westward into Hittite and Egyptian territories. The Mycenaeans, proto-Greeks who ruled much of southern Greece and Crete, were seafarers and industrial centers, known for their engineering and art. The paragraph sets the stage for a discussion on the factors that may have led to the collapse of these civilizations.

Mindmap
Keywords
💡Bronze Age Collapse
The Bronze Age Collapse refers to a significant and mysterious downturn in history where thriving civilizations along the Eastern Mediterranean, including modern-day Egypt to Greece, experienced a rapid decline. This period is characterized by the burning and leveling of cities, the disappearance of international trade, regression in technology and art, and the near extinction of the written word. The video script discusses this as one of history's greatest mysteries due to the abruptness of the collapse and the lack of clear causes.
💡Crescent
In the context of the video, 'crescent' refers to the geographical region stretching from modern-day Egypt to Greece, which was home to several ancient civilizations during the Bronze Age. This crescent-shaped area is significant as it was the cradle of some of the most advanced societies of that era, including the Egyptians, Hittites, and Mycenaeans.
💡International Trade
International trade in the video script refers to the exchange of goods and services between different regions and civilizations. During the Bronze Age, this was a vital aspect of economic growth and cultural exchange. However, the collapse saw the disappearance of this trade, leading to economic stagnation and cultural regression.
💡Pottery
Pottery in the context of the video is a craft and form of material culture that was prevalent during the Bronze Age. It represents not only the technological capabilities of the civilizations but also their artistic expression. The regression to primitive pottery after the collapse signifies a decline in both technological and artistic advancements.
💡Centralized Government
A centralized government refers to a political system where authority is concentrated in a single governing body, often with a strong bureaucracy and defined hierarchy. In the video, the disappearance of centralized government after the Bronze Age Collapse indicates the breakdown of organized political structures and the potential rise of smaller, less organized communities.
💡Written Word
The 'written word' refers to the use of symbols or characters to represent language and communicate information. In the Bronze Age, the ability to read and write was a significant marker of civilization's advancement. The video script highlights the near extinction of the written word after the collapse, signifying a loss of knowledge and cultural heritage.
💡Egypt
Egypt, as described in the video, was a late Bronze Age world power known for its wealth, sophistication, and advanced civilization. It had a strong centralized bureaucracy, a developed religion, and was able to build monumental structures like the Great Pyramids. The Nile River was a key factor in Egypt's prosperity, providing fertile land and serving as a highway for trade and communication.
💡Hittites
The Hittites were a powerful, militaristic society in Anatolia during the Bronze Age. They had significant economic advantages due to their access to copper from Cyprus and tin, which were essential for making bronze. The Hittites' control over these resources and their ability to maintain trade routes made them a formidable empire, often in conflict with other powers like Egypt.
💡Assyrians
The Assyrians were an ancient civilization located in Mesopotamia, known for their military strength and political cohesion. While they did not play a direct role in the immediate events leading to the Bronze Age Collapse, they are mentioned as a counter-balancing force that exerted pressure on other empires, particularly through their desire for Mediterranean trade ports.
💡Mycenaeans
The Mycenaeans were the proto-Greeks who controlled much of southern Greece and the island of Crete during the late Bronze Age. They were known for their maritime skills, complex industry, and monumental architecture. As a key part of the Bronze Age world network, they were also renowned for their engineering and artistic achievements.
💡Cyclopean Fortifications
Cyclopean fortifications refer to the massive stone walls characteristic of Mycenaean architecture. These structures were built without the use of mortar, with large boulders fitted closely together, and were so impressive in scale and construction that they were traditionally attributed to the Cyclops in Greek mythology. They served as both defensive structures and symbols of power.
💡Great Roads
Great Roads in the context of the video refer to the extensive and well-constructed network of roads built by the Mycenaeans. These roads were crucial for facilitating trade, communication, and military movement across their territories, showcasing their advanced understanding of infrastructure and its importance to a thriving civilization.
Highlights

The Bronze Age Collapse is one of history's greatest mysteries, involving the rapid decline of thriving civilizations.

Civilizations from modern-day Egypt to Greece experienced a dramatic fall, with cities burned and leveled to the ground between 1200 and 1150 BCE.

The period following the collapse was perhaps the darkest age in history, with the disappearance of international trade and regression in technology and culture.

Centralized government, complex construction, and the written word nearly vanished, with some areas losing the ability to read and write completely.

Egypt was the great power of the late Bronze Age, with wealth and sophistication surpassing other empires.

The Nile's predictability allowed for advanced irrigation and sustained agricultural fertility, contributing to Egypt's prosperity.

Egypt's abundance of food enabled long-distance commerce, a strong military, and the development of complex social and political structures.

The Nile also served as a highway for communication, trade, and military movement, further enhancing Egypt's power.

Egypt controlled a vast territory along the Mediterranean coast, including access to gold from the conquered Nubian kingdom of Kush.

The Hittites, controlling most of Anatolia, were a militaristic society built on the trade of copper from Cyprus and tin from the Taurus Mountains.

The scarcity of tin and the Hittites' ability to import it made them a key player in the Bronze Age world's economy.

The Hittites were in conflict with the Egyptians, leading to the creation of one of the oldest written peace treaties.

The Assyrians, though not directly involved in the collapse, were a significant force that applied pressure on surrounding empires.

The Mycenaeans, proto-Greeks, were seafarers and industrial centers, known for their engineering, roads, and art.

The Mycenaeans' cyclopean fortifications and palaces served as manufacturing centers and political hubs.

Despite their advancements, the Mycenaeans, like other civilizations, eventually fell during the Bronze Age Collapse.

The series will explore the technology, social structure, and politics that enabled these societies, but may have also contributed to their collapse.

Transcripts
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