THE END OF THE BRONZE AGE, OVER 50 MEDITERRANEAN CITIES FELL DURING
A 50-YEAR PERIOD. WERE EARTHQUAKES RESPONSIBLE?
have long puzzled over a strange finding in the eastern Mediterranean.
They've unearthed over 50 cities in this region, and found that
all were destroyed within the fifty year period between 1225 BC
and 1175BC. The fall of these centers marks the end of the Bronze
Age, which lasted from 3,000BC to about 1,000BC. During this time,
art and literature flourished and bronze technology pushed Middle
Eastern societies towards new innovations in tools and architecture.
During the "mini dark age" that followed the Bronze Age, the written
language Linear B disappeared and artistic pursuits were abandoned.
For years, historians and archaeologists have
debated how these civilizations fell without reaching a consensus.
Some scholars, like ancient historian Robert Drews of Vanderbilt
University and author of "The End of the Bronze Age", believe
warfare destroyed the civilizations. Others, like archaeologist
Eric H. Cline of Xavier University, believe a multitude of factors
were responsible. But Stanford geophysicist Amos Nur thinks geology
explains these civilizations' downfalls. Nur's theory: earthquakes
destroyed the cities.
and the Dead Sea This space radar image shows the area surrounding
the Dead Sea along the West Bank between Israel and Jordan. The area around Jerusalem has
a history of more than 2,000 years of settlement and scientists
are hoping to use these data to unveil more about this region's
past. The Jordan River Valley is part of an active fault and rift
system that extends from southern Turkey and connects with the east
African rift zone. This fault system has produced major earthquakes
throughout history and some scientists theorize that an earthquake
may have caused the fall of Jericho's walls. The Dead Sea basin
is formed by active earthquake faulting and contains the lowest
place on the Earth's surface at about 400 meters (1,300 feet) below
sea level. It was in caves along the northern shore of the Dead
Sea that the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. The blue and green
areas are generally regions of undeveloped hills and the dark green
areas are the smooth lowlands of the Jordan River Valley. The yellow
area at the top of the image is the city of Jericho. A portion of
the Dead Sea is shown as the large black area at the top right side
of the image. The Jordan River is the white line at the top of the
image which flows into the Dead Sea. Jerusalem, which lies in the
Judaean Hill Country, is the bright, yellowish area shown along
the left center of the image. Just below and to the right of Jerusalem
is the town of Bethlehem.