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Thread: The Collapse of Civilizations

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    4 out of 4 members found this post helpful.

    The Collapse of Civilizations



    This is an excellent paper by Malcolm Wiener from Harvard to which I was alerted by a mention in Lazaridis' twitter account.

    It explores the role of climate change and plague on the collapse of cultures we often discuss here, including the Bronze Age Aegean cultures and Rome.

    See:
    https://www.belfercenter.org/sites/d...ilizations.pdf

    "Five causesof collapse appear paramount: major episodes of climate change,crises-induced mass migrations, pandemics, dramatic advancesin methods of warfare and transport, and human failings in crisesincluding societal lack of resilience and the madness, incompetence,cultic focus, or ignorance of rulers."

    "Around 6200 BC, changes in rainfall patterns (for which a periodic changein the earth’s orbit has been suggested as a possible cause) led, inter alia,to the contraction of the savannah in North Africa, forcing humans tomove to the banks of the Nile for water.2A further period of cold, indicatedby evidence gathered from Greenland ice cores, may have spurredrapid dispersal of migrants along the comparatively warm shores of theMediterranean between about 5,750 and 5,450 BC.3Indeed, all five of theknown great migrations out of Africa appear to correspond with climateevents. Improving climate c. 4600 to 4000 BC spurred Neolithic dispersalfrom western Asia, and was followed during the fourth millennium BC bythe emergence of the first complex civilizations between the Tigris and theEuphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia and in the Indus River valley."

    "We come now to the first identifiable climate-related collapse of civilizations,encompassing at least all of West Asia and the Mediterranean worldbetween 2300 and 2000 BC....The megadrought, which caused or intensified major movementsand migrations, some violent in nature, was accompanied by drasticchanges in methods of warfare and transport, most notably the introductionof bronze weapons and sailing vessels, which may have carried notonly invaders but also pathogens to which there was no local resistance. Ofcourse severe food shortages appeared at different times in different places,depending on local conditions, food storage capabilities, societal resilience,and whether major advances in methods of transport and warfare precededor followed the onset or culmination of famine.

    In Egypt, there is direct textual evidence of a climate event during theFirst Intermediate Period, c. 2200 to 2050 BC, when the Nile flow sharplydiminished, resulting in famine...The Egyptian Old Kingdom, the age of thepyramids, dissolved."

    He goes on to describe the situation in Mesopotamia: "The challenge posed by a changingclimate was first noted in the Upper Khabur region of northernmostSyria, where archaeological sites contain a massive dust level lacking signsof significant human occupation between about 2225 and 2050 BC."

    "Texts from Mesopotamia describe the migration of peoples from the westand north, complaining of the absence of rain. After what may have been anattack or attacks by neighboring polities, the once-great capital city at Ur wasoverrun by people from the north seeking food and pasturage. Walls werebuilt in eastern Syria and in Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers,known respectively as the Très Long Mur and the Repeller of the Amorites (a people speaking a Northwest Semitic dialect), but the walls failed to haltthe migrants. A text of the succeeding Assyrian Empire speaks of the “17Amorite kings who lived in tents” during the interregnum."

    "The collapse of civilizations at this time includes Greece, where the incipientcomplex society of what is known as the Early Bronze II period in thePeloponnese, marked by large buildings such as the House of the Tiles atLerna (named for the innovative use of roof tiles in its architecture) and The Collapse of Civilizationsthe Rundbau at Tiryns, both with evidence of administration in the formof seal impressions and of contacts with sites in Anatolia and elsewhere,disappeared."

    "The dramatic differencesin the types of cooking pottery before and after the destructions signala change in the method of food preparation and perhaps of diet as well,indicating a change in population resulting from migrations, including thearrival of people from north-central Greece."

    "Accordingly it is possible that in some caseswell-armed attackers or pathogens appeared before the full brunt of thedeteriorating climate was felt, with the climate event providing the coup degrâce,15 or that the climate-induced famine weakened the population priorto the plague. Yersinia pestis infections have been identified as early as theLate Neolithic period around 3000–2500 BC in Eurasia. Actual bubonicplague genomes have recently been identified in the Samara region ofmodern Russia c. 1800 BC, suggesting a possible appearance close to thetime of the climate collapse of 2200–2050 BC.16."

    "The arc of upheaval extended to the central and western Mediterranean.The imposing megalithic temple culture of Malta, the relatively advancedCopper Age cultures of Sardinia and Languedoc in southern France, andthe metallurgical culture of Spain exemplified by the major copper-producingsites of Rio Tinto and Los Millares which flourished from about3000 to 2000 BC also came to an end, followed by the apparent arrival ofnewcomers with much less imposing architecture."

    "The collapse or major diminution of cultures may open opportunities forothers. Between about 2300 and 2000 BC the Balkan Cetina Culture, withits distinctive tumulus burials, bronze daggers, archery set, and ornatelyimpressed pottery, expanded over both coasts of the Adriatic Sea, includinga site under the much later Altar of Zeus at Olympia, and on into the centralMediterranean, including Malta. Mariners sailed westward from thePeloponnese as well, bringing pottery and other aspects of Early HelladicIII culture to Sicily and Malta."

    "In England, the period of monumental 8 The Collapse of Civilizationsbuilding at Stonehenge and Avebury in Wiltshire comes to an end around2300 BC. DNA and strontium isotope analyses suggest an influx of peoplebetween 2500 and 2000 BC from the direction of the Netherlands, bearingBeaker pottery."

    Then, "Beginning around 2050 BC, a period of generally good climate lastingalmost a millennium enabled the rise of powerful and prosperous statesfrom Egypt to Assyria to Anatolia to Crete and later mainland Greece."

    "The Near East during this period enjoyed the benefits of expanding trade,and in particular the Assyrian trading colony network which stretchedfrom northern Iraq to northern Syria and central Turkey. One of its greatcenters was located at Kültepe Karum-Kanesh in Turkey, where the localruler lived on a hill above a large lower town of Assyrian merchants."

    "At the end of the Bronze Age c. 1200 to 1050 BC, the return of adverseclimate appears to have been a significant factor in the collapse of theEgyptian New Kingdom, the Hittite Empire, and the palatial culture ofMycenaean Greece."

    "Vectors of collapse other than climate-induced famine were clearly presentin the collapse of civilization at the end of the Bronze Age culminating inthe 13th and 12th century BC. In the last quarter of the 14th century BC,two Hittite emperors in succession died of the plague."

    "There is alsoabundant evidence of warfare in general in the Near East and Greece in thelate 13th century BC, and of continuing pirate raids throughout the easternMediterranean, accompanied by some movement of people from theAegean to Cyprus and Canaan by sea, and from Anatolia to the northernLevant by land. The period also saw the appearance of a new and deadlyweapon, the Naue II type sword, plus a complete new military kit, consistingof javelins, round shields, metal greaves, and infantryman corselets.26The new military equipment may have come with mercenary troops fromItaly and possibly the Balkans, along with crude cooking pots very differentfrom Mycenaean pottery."

    "The climate improved by c. 800 BC and remained relatively benign ingeneral through the Classical and Hellenistic periods in Greece, with thepossible exception of a period of famine in the late 8th and 7th centuriesBC contributing to the era of Greek colonization eastward toward Turkeyand westward toward Italy, plus two colonies in Africa. This was also theperiod Phoenician expansion to the western Mediterranean, Carthagein particular. A period of particularly temperate climate, known as theRoman Warming (a.k.a. the Roman Climate Optimum), began about 200BC and continued until c. AD 150, thus encompassing the heights of theRoman Republic and Roman Empire. There followed a transitional periodof unsettled but not extremely severe weather c. AD 150 to 450. Romanrulers paid close attention to food supplies during this period, seeking toinstitutionalize resilience. The extant segments of the ancient aqueductsand granaries inspire wonder today. The emperor Septimius Severus, whoruled between AD 193 and 211, took provisioning the city of Rome soseriously that at his death there was enough grain stored to feed its onemillion inhabitants for seven years."

    "The connectivity of the Roman Empire, and especially the sheernumbers of ships then traversing the Mediterranean, as well as sailing fromthe Indian Ocean to the Red Sea ports built by the Empire, however, alsobrought the Romans into unfortunate contact with new frontiers of disease.In AD 165, an event known as the Antonine Plague, probably causedby smallpox, swept the Roman world. In AD 249 came another plague ofunknown cause, together with a period of drought, adding to the problemspresented by the continuingly increasing costs of providing armies,fleets for naval battles and transport, highways, aqueducts, granaries, and Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Harvard Kennedy School 13sanitation systems, resulting in the onset of political disintegration, leadingto what has been termed the “first fall” of the Roman Empire."

    "A drastic slackening of the movement ofthe Atlantic air mass across Europe and beyond produced a major drought,resulting in what has been called a “dust bowl” in Central Asia.29 The crisis inturn led to the invasions of the nomadic pastoralists from Central Asia andEastern Europe known as the Huns, who employed new cavalry tactics usinghorses able to endure hard riding, cold, and hunger, and a new weapon, thecomposite reflex bow, hard to manufacture and use, but deadly in action. TheHuns have aptly been described as “armed climate refugees on horseback.”30At this point disease intervened to save the Roman Empire’s defenders, forthe Huns, and in particular their horses, were felled by malaria-carryingmosquitoes, unknown in the cooler regions to the east and north."

    "Theweather-spurred migration of the Huns pressed against the Gothic tribes tothe west and north, who in response moved south into the Roman Empire.After more than a century of recurring battles, interspersed with alliancesand reciprocal betrayals often accompanied by slaughter, Rome itself fell to aGothic assault in AD 410.:

    "While the Western Roman Empire collapsed by the beginning of the 5thcentury AD, the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire revived until the dramaticevents of the Late Antique Little Ice Age of AD 536 to 680. The frigidclimate of the period was due in part to a series of volcanic eruptions inearly AD 536, AD 539–540, and AD 547, a cluster of eruptions unmatchedin the last 3000 years.32 Aerosols from these eruptions partly obscured thesun. AD 536, the year of the first eruption, was known as the year withoutsun, and 539–540 may have been even worse. The 530s and 540s werethe coldest decade since the Ice Age."


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

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    Indeed, yet another confirmation of 2012 paper which link can be find here:
    https://www.eupedia.com/forum/thread...climate-change
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    "...the madness, incompetence, cultic focus, or ignorance of rulers." The intersection of climate change, financial crisis, and political cowardice and avarice sounds like a blow-by-blow description of the current environment in the United States. Very scary.

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    The plague hypothesis make little sense to me. There is no immunity against plague, so if Steppe population and Old Europe are affected by Plague, they both gonna die, it cannot explain the then explosion of steppic lineage. It would make more sense that steppic populations not affected, run away affected steppic population. Wich could more explain why R1a became the dominant lineage in the Samara region after the collapse of Yamnaya.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    The plague hypothesis make little sense to me. There is no immunity against plague, so if Steppe population and Old Europe are affected by Plague, they both gonna die, it cannot explain the then explosion of steppic lineage. It would make more sense that steppic populations not affected, run away affected steppic population. Wich could more explain why R1a became the dominant lineage in the Samara region after the collapse of Yamnaya.
    Sigh. That's an absolutely incorrect understanding of susceptibility to disease. At the height of the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages in Europe, when EVERYONE was exposed to the illness, the death toll was extraordinary, 1/4 to 1/3 to 1/2 to 90% in some areas, but it VARIED, and it was not COMPLETE. NOT EVERYONE DIED. As with any other disease, people GENETICALLY have different susceptibility to certain diseases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    Sigh. That's an absolutely incorrect understanding of susceptibility to disease. At the height of the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages in Europe, when EVERYONE was exposed to the illness, the death toll was extraordinary, 1/4 to 1/3 to 1/2 to 90% in some areas, but it VARIED, and it was not COMPLETE. NOT EVERYONE DIED. As with any other disease, people GENETICALLY have different susceptibility to certain diseases.
    Omg... people did not die, because they were not infected. Milano as an exemple didn't let anybody from the outside coming in the city, so they were not very affected by the pandemia.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    Omg... people did not die, because they were not infected. Milano as an exemple didn't let anybody from the outside coming in the city, so they were not very affected by the pandemia.
    We're talking about whether there are differing immunological responses to a disease AFTER exposure! I'll repeat that...AFTER exposure. There's also the fact that even after CONTRACTING the disease, there are varying mortality rates! So why are you talking about Milano in that one outbreak? In Florence, which was not quarantined, seventy percent of the people died.

    Plus, you seem unaware of any of the research into the disease itself. Ever heard of the CDC????

    "In the pre-antibiotic era (1900 through 1941), mortality among those infected with plague in the United States was 66%"
    https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html

    Now, that's among modern people, much better fed and in better health than inhabitants of medieval Europe, better cared for in more hygienic conditions, and additionally, large percentages of whom are of northern European ancestry, who we now know, have more steppe ancestry than southern Europeans.

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    How steppe ancestry would play a role into this, more you have steppe ancestry, more you have immunity for plague, more it is diluted, less you are? Because as far as i know, a lot of western europe in medieval times had distant steppe ancestors. Plague is plague, if you have plague, your entire environement is exposed no? So how would steppe people survive in bronze age, while migrating, while having plague, seems crazy.

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    ^ Not everyone who had the plague died of the plague. Those who had stronger immunity against the plague were the ones who survived.
    mmmmmmmmm dooouuughhhnuuuutz

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    Quote Originally Posted by davef View Post
    ^ Not everyone who had the plague died of the plague. Those who had stronger immunity against the plague were the ones who survived.
    Are we certain of this? There is multiple plagues, how do we know that not every body with the plague died in the middle-age? Is there a medieval record that talk of sick people healing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    Are we certain of this? There is multiple plagues, how do we know that not every body with the plague died in the middle-age? Is there a medieval record that talk of sick people healing?
    Plague of Justinian

    Modern historians named this plague incident after the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I, who was emperor at the time of the initial outbreak; he contracted the disease himself but survived.
    If we have today a country named France, it`s because of the plague of Justinian.
    17 Dec.
    Paget to the Council.

    Now the Council's letters seem to imply (words quoted) that the King will keep no strangers save the Albanoys.

    Cales, 17 Dec. 1545. Signed.


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    Quote Originally Posted by LABERIA View Post
    Plague of Justinian



    If we have today a country named France, it`s because of the plague of Justinian.
    Wow, ok, he had good immunity for a Mediterranean guy. Knowing that yersinia pestis is a steppic thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    Wow, ok, he had good immunity for a Mediterranean guy. Knowing that yersinia pestis is a steppic thing.
    Maybe he survived because he was an Emperor. The common people suffered from hunger, which affected their ability to resist the disease. Then it is obvious that there was all the attention of the doctors for the health of the Emperor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LABERIA View Post
    Maybe he survived because he was an Emperor. The common people suffered from hunger, which affected their ability to resist the disease. Then it is obvious that there was all the attention of the doctors for the health of the Emperor.
    I guess it make sense, that if he was healthy, he was stronger to survive, but what about the bronze age steppic people, were they more healthy than the farmers to survive?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    One has to delineate between the different forms of plague. 'In untreated victims, the rates rise to about 50 percent for bubonic and 100 percent for septicemic. The mortality rate for untreated pneumonic plague is 100 percent; death occurs within 24 hours.'

    The "Black Death", as the name suggests, was largely the bubonic plague. People did survive it.

    In terms of immunity to plague, see:
    https://www.the-scientist.com/resear...inst-hiv-54468

    "They found that a genetic mutation that gives its carriers protection against the HIV virus became relatively common among white Europeans about 700 years ago — the same period that the Black Death swept into Europe. The team also concluded that the geographic cline of the mutation frequencies and its recent emergence were consistent with a strongly selective historic event (such as an epidemic of a pathogen), driving its frequency upwards in populations whose ancestors survived the Black Death.
    The mutation occurs on the gene for CCR-5, a receptor on the surface of macrophages. When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus latches onto CCR5 and another protein — CD-4 — to be transported inside the macrophages.
    CCR-5 is disabled in people with the full mutation, and so HIV is unable to gain access to the macrophages. If an individual inherits the mutant gene from both parents, they are essentially immune to HIV infection. People with one mutant and one normal gene can be infected, but tend to survive longer than infected people with two normal CCR-5 genes. It seems as though people without the mutation, called CCR5-Δ32, were killed by the Black Death, so that those with the mutation survived to reproduce and increase its prevalence today."

    "Eugen-Olsen's team concentrated on determining the time of the major spread of the mutation by examining bones found in Denmark, dating from the last Ice Age, around 8000 BC to 1950 BC. In particular, they focused on the time between 1800 and 2600 BC, a Mesolithic period of massive change and migration.


    Their findings suggested that the CCR-5-Δ32 mutation was already highly prevalent in Denmark before the Black Death. Rasmussen reported: "There is support in the fact that the distribution of the Single Grave Culture in Northern and Middle Europe matches that of the high prevalence of 32Δ." This meant that an epidemic decimating the Stone Age population could explain the archaeological observations as well as the distribution of the 32Δ mutation."

    ""It always puzzled scientists in the field that the mutation never occurs in Asian or African populations, but only among European Caucasians," said Eugen-Olsen. It is much more prevalent in the North and tapers off towards the Mediterranean, meaning that only eight out of 100 Southern Italians carry the mutation, compared to one in four Danes."

    So, 25% versus 8%. The people on the steppe itself would have had even more immunity perhaps before admixing with the European locals.


    So, if this research is confirmed, if you had two copies of the mutation, you probably wouldn't get it; if you had one copy it might be less severe; if you had none, you were a goner.

    Now, it seems some of the steppe people did get sick and die from it, going by the samples that Krause found. However, not everyone did.

    There's an additional factor in terms of the steppe people: the rat fleas don't like horses. Nomads on the steppe even today rarely get the plague even though it is present in marmots and other animals.
    Last edited by Angela; 09-10-18 at 02:02.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBGuy View Post
    "...the madness, incompetence, cultic focus, or ignorance of rulers." The intersection of climate change, financial crisis, and political cowardice and avarice sounds like a blow-by-blow description of the current environment in the United States. Very scary.
    Actually it has nothing to do with it. You see, collapses of ancient civilizations came at times of little ice ages, the cooling periods. Today earth is warming up, and surely we need to adapt to changes, but it is not so drastic like severe cold, dry and years of failed crops. If you think that financial crises was bad, check on bestialities, genocides and other casualties of WW2, yet this didn't stop our civilization. I know there are many scary things in today's world, but we have to take it with lots of perspective to understand the consequences.

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