New study finds: Ancient Mycenaean civilization might have collapsed due to uprising or invasion

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
New study finds: Ancient Mycenaean civilization might have collapsed due to uprising or invasionThe prevailing theory until now has been that Mycenaean palaces had been destroyed by devastating earthquakes

For many years, the prevailing theory on how the Mycenaean civilisation collapsed was that devastating earthquakes led to the destruction of its palaces in the Peloponnese, southern Greece around 1,200 BC.

Nevertheless, new evidence suggests that some type of internal uprising or an external invasion might have brought about the downfall of the Mycenaean civilisation.

From 2012, a team led by German archaeologist Joseph Maran of Heidelberg University and geophysicist Klaus-G. Hinzen has been conducting research in Tiryns and Midea. The findings of their research were published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

“Although some of the observations from the two investigated citadels could be explained by seismic loading, alternative nonseismic causes could equally explain most observed damage. In some cases, the structural damage was clearly not caused by earthquakes”, they stressed in the study, adding that: “Our results indicate that the hypothesis of a destructive earthquake in Tiryns and Midea, which may have contributed to the end of the LBA Mycenaean palatial period, is unlikely”.

The Mycanean civilization

Mycenaean Greece (or Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1600–1100 BC. It represents the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece, with its palatial states, urban organization, works of art and writing system. Among the centers of power that emerged, the most notable were those of Pylos, Tiryns, Midea in the Peloponnese, Orchomenos, Thebes, Athens in Central Greece and Iolcos in Thessaly. The most prominent site was Mycenae, in Argolid, after which the culture of this era is named. Mycenaean and Mycenaean-influenced settlements also appeared in Epirus, Macedonia, on islands in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Asia Minor, the Levant, Cyprus and Italy.

The Mycenaean Greeks introduced several innovations in the fields of engineering, architecture and military infrastructure, while trade over vast areas of the Mediterranean was essential for the Mycenaean economy. Their syllabic script, the Linear B, offers the first written records of the Greek language and their religion already included several deities that can also be found in the Olympic Pantheon. Mycenaean Greece was dominated by a warrior elite society and consisted of a network of palace states that developed rigid hierarchical, political, social and economic systems. At the head of this society was the king, known as wanax.

Mycenaean Greece perished with the collapse of Bronze Age culture in the eastern Mediterranean, to be followed by the so-called Greek Dark Ages, a recordless transitional period leading to Archaic Greece where significant shifts occurred from palace-centralized to de-centralized forms of socio-economic organization (including the extensive use of iron). Various theories have been proposed for the end of this civilization, among them the Dorian invasion or activities connected to the "Sea Peoples". Additional theories such as natural disasters and climatic changes have been also suggested. The Mycenaean period became the historical setting of much ancient Greek literature and mythology, including the Trojan Epic Cycle.

Grace Circle B at Mycenae Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: K beard License: CC-BY-SA


Initial decline of Mycanean Greece

In c. 1250 BC, the first wave of destruction apparently occurred in various centers of mainland Greece for reasons that cannot be identified by archaeologists. In Boeotia, Thebes was burned to the ground, around that year or slightly later. Nearby Orchomenos shared the same fate, while the Boeotian fortifications of Gla were deserted. In the Peloponnese, a number of buildings surrounding the citadel of Mycenae were attacked and burned.

These incidents appear to have prompted the massive strengthening and expansion of the fortifications in various sites. In some cases, arrangements were also made for the creation of subterranean passages which led to underground cisterns. Tiryns, Midea and Athens expanded their defences with new cyclopean-style walls. The extension program in Mycenae almost doubled the fortified area of the citadel. To this phase of extension belongs the impressive Lion Gate, the main entrance into the Mycenaean acropolis.

It appears that after this first wave of destruction a short-lived revival of Mycenaean culture followed. Mycenaean Greece continues to be mentioned in international affairs, particularly in Hittite records. In c. 1220 BC, the king of Ahhiyawa is again reported to have been involved in an anti-Hittite uprising in western Anatolia. Another contemporary Hittite account reports that Ahhiyawan ships should avoid Assyrian-controlled harbors, as part of a trade embargo imposed on Assyria. In general, in the second half of 13th century BC, trade was in decline in the Eastern Mediterranean, most probably due to the unstable political environment there.[62]

The final collapse of Mycanean civilization

None of the defence measures appear to have prevented the final destruction and collapse of the Mycenaean states. A second destruction struck Mycenae in ca. 1190 BC or shortly thereafter. This event marked the end of Mycenae as a major power. The site was then reoccupied, but on a smaller scale. The palace of Pylos, in the southwestern Peloponnese, was destroyed in c. 1180 BC. The Linear B archives found there, preserved by the heat of the fire that destroyed the palace, mention hasty defence preparations due to an imminent attack without giving any detail about the attacking force.

As a result of this turmoil, specific regions in mainland Greece witnessed a dramatic population decrease, especially Boeotia, Argolis and Messenia. Mycenaean refugees migrated to Cyprus and the Levantine coast.[64] Nevertheless, other regions on the edge of the Mycenaean world prospered, such as the Ionian islands, the northwestern Peloponnese, parts of Attica and a number of Aegean islands.[59] The acropolis of Athens, oddly, appears to have avoided destruction.

The Grave Circle A, and the main entrance of the citadel (left), at Mycenae Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Andreas Trepte License: CC-BY-SA


Hypotheses for the collapse 

The reasons for the end of the Mycenaean culture have been hotly debated among scholars. At present, there is no satisfactory explanation for the collapse of the Mycenaean palace systems. The two most common theories are population movement and internal conflict. The first attributes the destruction of Mycenaean sites to invaders.

The hypothesis of a Dorian invasion, known as such in Ancient Greek tradition, that led to the end of Mycenaean Greece, is supported by sporadic archaeological evidence such as new types of burials, in particular cist graves, and the use of a new dialect of Greek, the Doric one. It appears that the Dorians moved southward gradually over a number of years and devastated the territory, until they managed to establish themselves in the Mycenaean centers. A new type of ceramic also appeared, called "Barbarian Ware" because it was attributed to invaders from the north. On the other hand, the collapse of Mycenaean Greece coincides with the activity of the Sea Peoples in the Eastern Mediterranean. They caused widespread destruction in Anatolia and the Levant and were finally defeated by Pharaoh Ramesses III in c. 1175 BC. One of the ethnic groups that comprised these people were the Eqwesh, a name that appears to be linked with the Ahhiyawa of the Hittite inscriptions.

Alternative scenarios propose that the fall of Mycenaean Greece was a result of internal disturbances which led to internecine warfare among the Mycenaean states or civil unrest in a number of states, as a result of the strict hierarchical social system and the ideology of the wanax. In general, due to the obscure archaeological picture in 12th-11th century BC Greece, there is a continuing controversy among scholars over whether the impoverished societies that succeeded the Mycenaean palatial states were newcomers or populations that already resided in Mycenaean Greece. Recent archaeological findings tend to favor the latter scenario. Additional theories, concerning natural factors, such as climate change, droughts or earthquakes have also been proposed. The period following the end of Mycenaean Greece, c. 1100-800 BC, is generally termed the "Greek Dark Ages".

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Andreas Trepte License: CC-BY-SA

 

Tornos
  1. 17/04 21:06

    Thessaloniki Port: Performance growth for 2023 with record container throughput

  2. 17/04 20:57

    Traffic regulations imposed in Athens for the 41st Peace Marathon on Sunday

  3. 17/04 20:52

    LAMDA Development malls and marinas reach new record high

  4. 17/04 18:15

    Greek Foreign Minister addresses the 9th Our Ocean Conference in Athens

  5. 17/04 17:12

    IMF: Drop of Greek public debt to 158.8% of GDP in 2024

  6. 16/04 21:02

    NHM hosts the Trial of Pericles at the Harris Theater in Chicago on April 17

  7. 16/04 20:17

    Greece will invest $830 million to protect marine biodiversity

  8. 16/04 01:46

    New York Greek Independence Parade honors 1821 and solemn Cyprus Anniversary

  9. 16/04 01:35

    Olympic Games Paris 2024: Olympic Flame to be lit at Ancient Olympia in Greece

  10. 16/04 00:29

    European Committee of Regions and UN release study on Rural Tourism

  11. 15/04 20:41

    No Athens Metro on Wednesday

  12. 15/04 19:58

    Minister: Greece is transforming into a hub for exporting quality agri-food products

  13. 15/04 18:51

    Greek Environment Minister meets Chinese Deputy Minister of Natural Resources

  14. 13/04 00:13

    UN Tourism and Croatia to launch Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism

  15. 12/04 00:03

    2024 marks a critical year in the enduring strength of Greek-German relations

  16. 12/04 00:00

    Greek Rural Development Minister in Italy for wine meeting

  17. 11/04 22:07

    Ambassador: US committed to upgrade of Greek military and support NATO's SE flank

  18. 11/04 19:40

    Hellenic Pride on display at rainy Chicago Greek Independence Day Parade

  19. 11/04 02:06

    Delphi Economic Forum IX: Energy collaboration a 'key' in Greek-Bulgarian relations

  20. 11/04 01:58

    UN Tourism launches investment guidelines for Albania sector

  21. 10/04 19:01

    Greek FinMin: New package of economic measures in 2025 to lower taxes, raise pensions

  22. 10/04 18:25

    Greek city of Nafplion hosts Mediterranean Yacht Show for ninth year running

  23. 09/04 23:57

    Greek PM on Tilos: Innovative projects for a cyclical economy are of key significance

  24. 09/04 23:55

    UN Tourism members promote agenda for Europe as region leads global recovery

  25. 09/04 23:46

    HFS presents 1968, Rousing Docudrama about Greece’s First European Cup April 21

  26. 09/04 22:48

    Stolen 7th-century BC oenochoe returned to Greece by Hanover museum, municipality

  27. 09/04 22:42

    Greek civil servants confederation ADEDY to strike on May 21

  28. 09/04 21:55

    Greek Migration Minister meets Senior US Coordinator for Lawful Migration

  29. 08/04 23:48

    Athens-Epidaurus Festival to kick off on June 1

  30. 08/04 23:41

    Elliniko-Argyroupoli Mayor marches in Greek Independence Philadelphia Parade

  31. 08/04 21:53

    Project Voria casino complex in Maroussi moving ahead after environmental report

  32. 08/04 21:36

    Minister: Up to 120 delegations to take part in 9th Our Ocean Conference in Athens

  33. 08/04 19:22

    Direct flight from Shanghai to Athens offers access to key tourism market for Greece

  34. 08/04 18:31

    AI conference to attract distinguished speakers to Thessaloniki on April 25-27

  35. 04/04 23:28

    City of San Jose marks March 25 with 16th Annual Greek Flag Raising Event

  36. 04/04 22:16

    Urban plans published for seven townships in Thessaloniki and Attica of Greece

  37. 04/04 17:24

    FinMin: The new EU economic and fiscal framework is good for Greece

  38. 04/04 15:30

    Greek PM meets with the chiefs of the international pharmaceutical manufacturers

  39. 04/04 00:15

    Deputy Minister for Macedonia-Thrace meets US Embassy Deputy Mission Chief

  40. 03/04 20:12

    Syracuse AHEPA Chapter 37 marks March 25th Greek Independence Day

  41. 03/04 18:10

    Greece's Delphi Economic Forum on April 10-13 to focus on 'The Great Transition'

  42. 03/04 16:42

    Minister: Industrial production has returned to the pre-crisis levels in Greece

  43. 02/04 18:06

    Athens-Epidaurus Festival to kick off on June 1

  44. 30/03 23:21

    Eleni Gatzoyiannis scholarship offered to Greek students at Boston University

  45. 29/03 16:44

    3rd edition of 'This is Athens - City Festival' with 250+ events from May 1 until June 2

  46. 29/03 15:53

    Athens Metro station Aghia Varvara to stay closed on Saturday and Sunday

  47. 29/03 13:55

    Greek Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy concludes visit to Montenegro

  48. 29/03 12:00

    Greek PM announces minimum wage hike to 830 euros per month

  49. 29/03 11:51

    Clocks to go forward one hour in Greece on Sunday

  50. 28/03 18:41

    Attica Region to channel 640 bln euros to services of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups

  51. 28/03 17:32

    Greece to auction three-month T-bills on April 3, 2024 in a book entry form

  52. 28/03 15:46

    Greece's Meteora Pyli Geopark added to UNESCO Global Geoparks network

  53. 28/03 14:44

    IPTO announces framework agreement tender for undersea power cables in Greece

  54. 28/03 11:49

    IOBE: Construction sector in Greece records robust growth and good prospects

  55. 26/03 23:51

    St. Thomas Hellenic School honors 1821 and the Feast of the Annunciation in NJ

  56. 26/03 21:59

    PM at Economic Club of Canada: Greece is an attractive investment destination

  57. 26/03 17:56

    Greek State budget primary balance reaches a surplus of 3,378 million euros

  58. 26/03 11:45

    Ancient Messene to get upgraded visitors' facilities after approval by Council

  59. 23/03 17:43

    New requirements for 'Golden Visa' program to kick in on March 31

  60. 23/03 16:49

    Athenians continue to head out of the Greek Capital for March 25 long weekend

  61. 23/03 16:47

    Greek Parliament lights to be turned off for Earth Hour 8:30-9:30 pm

  62. 22/03 21:54

    US President on Greek Independence Day: Alliance with Greece stronger than ever

  63. 22/03 19:51

    High diplomacy and geopolitics at Delphi Economic Forum IX in Greece

  64. 22/03 19:32

    Tax authorities enable payments with foreign bank cards in Greece

  65. 22/03 14:19

    Greece to take part in Earth Hour on Saturday

  66. 22/03 00:24

    Greece ranks first on list of countries with fastest business environment progress

  67. 22/03 00:02

    Hellenic Police acquires first electric VAN-type highway patrol vehicle

  68. 21/03 22:41

    Greek Finance Ministry tightens Golden Visa rules

  69. 21/03 15:33

    Unseen Museum presents "The stele of the twin babies" exhibition in Athens

  70. 20/03 22:48

    Health Minister: 95% of Greek hospitals to perform afternoon surgeries

  71. 20/03 21:52

    Greek Deputy Minister of Justice meets delegation from US Embassy in Athens

  72. 20/03 21:44

    Greek Interior Minister to visit United States and Canada on postal vote

  73. 20/03 20:55

    Philadelphia Icarians mark 85th Anniversary and organize Apokriatiko Dance

  74. 20/03 18:01

    Development Minister: We continue the battle against high prices in Greece

  75. 19/03 22:28

    President of the Hellenic Republic meets her Ethiopian counterpart in Athens

  76. 19/03 20:57

    Greek Tourism Minιster meets Hellenic Chamber of Hotels

  77. 19/03 20:25

    FinMIn: Moody’s analysis records significant progress in the Greek economy

  78. 19/03 11:15

    Sector chiefs report: Good news for Greek tourism in 2024 at ITB Berlin

  79. 18/03 22:20

    American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association honors Past Supreme President

  80. 16/03 13:01

    Greek Deputy Foreign Μinister meets her Slovenian counterpart in Athens

  81. 16/03 12:56

    Greek-Canadian Diaspora to welcome Greek Prime Minister to Toronto

  82. 16/03 11:28

    Greek Migration Minister visits refugee hosting facilities in Kavala, Drama and Serres

  83. 15/03 21:50

    Greek Minister announces conference on defence ecosystem in Athens from Lithuania

  84. 15/03 13:45

    PM: More than 80 hospitals and 156 health centres being upgraded in Greece

  85. 15/03 12:55

    Piraeus Port and Genoa Chambers of Commerce ink memorandum of cooperation

  86. 14/03 23:43

    President of Hellenic Republic meets Prime Minister of Slovakia in Bratislava

  87. 14/03 22:58

    American Express report highlights Global Travel Trends during 2024

  88. 14/03 22:52

    Four hospitals in Attica Region already organizing afternoon surgical procedures

  89. 14/03 22:49

    US Ambassador to Athens: More flights from the United States to Greece and Thessaloniki

  90. 14/03 22:43

    Greek archaeologists discover ten ancient shipwrecks off Aegean island of Kasos

  91. 14/03 19:32

    No new intubations for Covid-19 recorded in Greece for the first time

  92. 14/03 18:36

    Extra road safety measures adopted for Greek pre-lent carnival and Clean Monday

  93. 14/03 14:48

    HRADF eyes bidders for Lavrio Port majority share

  94. 14/03 12:54

    Electric buses to be deployed on the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki by May

  95. 13/03 22:23

    Chairman: 2023 was an exceptional one for AEGEAN Airlines

  96. 13/03 20:11

    Prices of basic lenten products either lower or equal to last year's in Greece

  97. 13/03 19:15

    US Ambassador to Athens: Greece secures NATO readiness via Alexandroupolis

  98. 13/03 17:19

    Greece shines at 1st European Cruise Exhibition

  99. 13/03 12:26

    Greece shows new costumes for revamped Olympic Flame-lighting ceremony

  100. 12/03 22:46

    Epirotes Society of Philadelphia ‘Omonia’ organized 16th Annual ‘Tsipourovradia’