Shaking History
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ARCHAEOLOGISTS 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.

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Jerusalem 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.
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