Saturday, April 02, 2005

The End of the Bronze Age 

I recently purchased a 12-disc set of courses from The Teaching Company on ancient Greece. I spend a lot of time in the car, and I thought this would be a productive way to spend some of that time. They've been fascinating, by the way. Well worth the money.

Anyway, I just listened to the account of the forerunners of the Greeks, the Mycenaeans and the Minoans. They had a pretty amazing civilization in the 2000-1200 BC range of time, give or take. But their civilization ended rather abruptly, due to causes that are not entirely clear. And not only them- but basically all of the bronze age civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean all came to an end at about the same time, followed by a dark age of a few centuries until the rise of iron age cultures in the ninth and eighth century.

I did some adding up and some remembering, and it occurred to me that the Israelites would have left Egypt and arrived in Canaan in 1400-1300 BC, depending on whose dating you use. And it was over the next two hundred years that these cultures all collapsed- Hittite, Minoan, Mycenaean, Cretan, and others. Now maybe this has been extensively said before- probably so. But the Biblical account of the Israelite invasion and destruction of the Canaanites would directly account for some of that, and indirectly it could have caused a lot of the rest of the decline too, it seems to me. The general breakdown of order caused by the destruction of those civilizations in Canaan could have caused a lot of disorder to spread to other parts of the Mediterranean world, accounting for that sudden and precipitous decline of so many civilizations at the same time. And the pinnacle of Israel under David and Solomon would then correspond to the dark ages of most other civilizations around them.

It seems to me that the Biblical account of this period would far better explain these events than a lot of the speculation I've heard. The Teaching Company lecturer throws some ideas out about possibilities, but admits that they are speculations and says that nobody really knows what happened. But while I haven't studied the idea out exhaustively, I think we might just be able to add this to the long list of answers that the Bible provides us with. If I were right it would hardly be the most important issue the Bible ever solved for us- far from it. But it's interesting, nonetheless.

Very interesting. I have often wondered how much more of the puzzle of ancient history we would be able to put together if the historians would just give serious consideration to the biblical record.
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