Rise and Fall of Ancient Civilizations (2000-1000 BCE)

  1. Second Millennia BCE Civilizations

    1. Urban civilizations develop away from the great river valleys

    2. Increasing emphasis on trade, as urban centers move into agriculturally poorer areas

    3. Increasing expansion of a bureaucratic-military elite

    4. Inherently fragile

      1. vulnerable to climate change

      2. vulnerable to disruption of trade routes

      3. extensive warfare and imperial expansion weaken and overextends civilizations

  2. Mediterranean and Middle East

    1. Hittites (1800-1210 BCE)

      1. mixed farming and herding civilization based in Anatolia (modern Turkey)

      2. depended on trade and conquest for missing resources

      3. sacred king spoke to Sun God; oversaw large bureaucracy

      4. Plague and military losses brings about decline

    2. Minoans (2000 BCE-1500 BCE)

      1. based on Crete, the largest of the Aegean islands

      2. resource-poor Crete necessitated extensive trade

      3. large place-complexes inhabited by a wealthy elite

      4. high levels of disparity between rich and poor

      5. brought down by volcanic destruction of Thera/Santorini c.1500 BCE

    3. Mycenaeans (1500-1100 BCE)

      1. Rise seems to coincide with destruction of Thera

      2. Greek speakers; establish fortress cities on Greek mainland and on Crete

      3. Warrior-kings oversaw extensive trade and constant warfare for resource

      4. Undone by this constant warfare, earthquakes - and possibly the Sea People

    4. Eastern Mediterranean and the Sea People

      1. Ramesses III defeats the Sea People in the Battle of the Delta (c. 1175 BCE), as depcited in his tombRamesses III defeats the Sea People in the Battle of the Delta (c. 1175 BCE), as depcited in his tomb

      2. 1200-1100 BCE see collapse of all urban civilization in Eastern Mediterranean

      3. Egypt is the sole exception

      4. Evidence of waves of attacks

        1. Cretans move towns to inaccessible mountain tops

        2. some documentation of waves of attackers in E. Mediterranean cities

        3. Egypt records military victory over the "Sea People" c. 1190 BCE

      5. Invasions and weakness of civilizations may have been caused by famine

        1. evidence of famine - source of famine unclear

        2. may have resulted from overpopulation of agricultural zones

  3. Harrapa and the Indus

    1. Harrapan civilization collapses by 1500 BCE

    2.  Traditionally attributed to the "Arayan Invasion"

      1. Migrants from central Asia move into the Indus and Ganges regions c. 1500-500 BCE

        1. stories of these people collected in the Rig Vedas c. 800 BCE

        2. semi-mythical account of their history and gods

        3. becomes  founding text of Hinduism

      2. No evidence of "conquest" - appears to be a migration in response to Harrapan collapse, not the cause of that collapse

      3. Overpopulation and expanding deserts seem to be main causes - Saraswati river dries up

      4. inability of rulers to control and distribute food may have brought about collapse

      5. by 1000 BCE, all Harrapan site shave been abandoned

  4. Decline of the Shang in China

    1. Shang kings had depended on success in war and on ritual status

    2. Both begin to break down c. 1200 BCE, accelerating after 1100 BCE

      1. defeats in battle

      2. ritual sacred kingships develop in surrounding territories (not the only claimant to this status anymore)

      3. Shang king controls less and less territory

      4. overthrown by Zhou c. 1045 BCE

  5. Common Themes - Reasons for Decline

    1. By 1100-1000 BCE, several major civilization have collapsed

    2. Others severely weakened or replaced

    3. Causes

      1. intensive agriculture led to rising populations

      2. rising populations required conquest and trade for needed resources

      3. any disruption in agriculture, trade, or warfare could be disastrous

      4. crop failures or loss of land in battle leads to famine, migration

      5. rivals imitate success

        1. opens up possibility of invasion

        2. rivals, if successful, fall prey to the same problems