Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This Wouldn't Relate to Some Plagues, Would It?


A study of fossil pollen particles in sediments extracted from the bottom of the Sea of Galilee has revealed evidence of a climate crisis that traumatized the Near East from the middle of the 13th to the late 12th century BCE. The crisis brought about the collapse of the great empires of the Bronze Age. The results of this study will be published in the coming days by Dr. Dafna Langgut and Prof. Israel Finkelstein of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and Prof. Thomas Litt of the Institute of Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn, Germany. The results appeared today in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University<http://maneypublishing.com/index.php/journals/tav/> and can be read online at IngentaConnect.com<http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/maney/tav>.  Prof. Mordechai Stein of the Hebrew University also participated in the research.
"In a short period of time the entire world of the Bronze Age crumbled," explains Prof. Finkelstein. "The Hittite empire, Egypt of the Pharaohs, the Mycenaean culture in Greece, the copper producing kingdom located on the island of Cyprus, the great trade emporium of Ugarit on the Syrian coast and the Canaanite city-states under Egyptian hegemony – all disappeared and only after a while were replaced by the territorial kingdoms of the Iron Age, including Israel and Judah.
The researchers drilled through 300 meters of water in the heart of the Sea of Galilee and retrieved a core of sediments 20 meters long from the bottom of the lake. The goal was to extract from the sediments fossil pollen grains. "Pollen is the most enduring organic material in nature," explains palynologist Dr. Dafna Langgut, who carried out the actual work of sampling. "Pollen was driven to the Sea of Galilee by wind and river-streams, was deposited in the lake and was embedded in the under-water sediments. New sediments that are added annually create anaerobic conditions which help preserve the pollen particles. These particles tell us about the vegetation that grew in the vicinity of the lake in the past and therefore testify to the climatic conditions in the region." The chronological framework of the sediment core was established by radiocarbon dating organic materials that were preserved in the sediments. The counting and the identification of the pollen grains revealed a period of severe droughts between ca. 1250 and 1100 BCE. A core of sediments from the western shore of the Dead Sea – also studied by the research group – provided similar results...


A famine?


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