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Collapse of the Hittite Empire

Nowadays, there are a lot of theories and inferences that what caused the collapse of the civilization such as environmental, ecological, political, and economic etc. I am going to introduce and analyze of the Hittite civilization which belongs to the period of the Bronze Age.
There are some aspects of the collapse of civilization people have defined. What is collapse exactly? As said by the article from the National Geographic, “Collapse has specific implication of ‘imploding’ under its own weight or mismanagement or something”. For instance, while the Spanish conquered the post-classic Maya, the classic Maya may have collapsed. Even then, to have a civilization conquered is not necessarily to have it end. Chris Thornton, moderator, said there’s no such a thing as a sudden collapse. People do not disappear, and they move and they change. Giorgio Buccellati said collapse can be defined as a broken tradition. More specifically, Archaeobotanist, Dorian Fuller, stated about little tradition such as folksongs, and huge traditions such as architecture of temple. “Little traditions are more likely to persist,” he said. “Big traditions, more likely to collapse.” In that frame, good parts of the culture can continue, and probably direct to the revival of the rest of it after a latency period. “But if it doesn’t come back, that’s collapse.” On the other hand, Richard Hansen said that even the rural populations are leaving in the case of the Maya (end of the classic era). “They walked away forever.” From his view point, collapse is seen as a break in continuity: “There’s degeneration or a destruction of a system or organization that renders it impossible to return for an extended period of time.” (HowleyAndrew, 2013)
What evidence do archaeologists use to identify a collapse during a specific period? There are numerous methods to identify a specific period of civilization by investigating bones. It observes the evidence that is left behind by these cultures. A specialist in zoo archaeology, Trella have been studying bones from the ruins of the ancient cities. He can identify the species, age at death, and whether it was domesticated or not. It provides data about diet and diseases of the time. There are objects in different layers of soil from different time period. By looking at the objects in the same layer, we can get a hint from pottery fragment and possibly estimate a bone’s age. In addition, because all living things include carbon, we can use carbon dated method with bones. Carbon-14 exists in all living things, but after death, concentrate rate is degraded. So we can calculate an age by measuring how much bones contain the Carbon-14 with a mass spectrometer and using the isotopes’ 5,730-year half-life which means that “after 5,730 years half the number of atoms will still be present in the bone”. To find out quantities of other isotopes which is evidence for the kinds of food humans and animals were eating, Trella also tested with a mass spectrometer in the department of Environmental Sciences. By looking at the bones, we can identify the age of people when they died and physical evidence of diseases people got during his life. “Almost all my time is spent analyzing the bones for species, sex and age,” says Trella. (BELLOWSSIERRA, 2010)
Hittite civilization was during the Bronze Age and the Bronze Age collapse is one of archaeology’s greatest mysteries. The fall of the Hittite civilization was sudden and swift. It was so called “the Dark Age” because of decreased literacy. According to Thomas Fuller, “It is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.” Scholars have suggested that there was not only one reason of the Bronze Age collapse. It’s because of the marauding Sea Peoples, plagues and earthquakes, which was a “system collapse”. Under growing interregional economic or demographic pressures, social networks were broken down. (WienerNoah, 2013)
One of the enormous empires, the Hittite, was established in the ancient Middle East between 1400 and 1200 BC. Central Turkey, north western Syria, and Upper Mesopotamia (north eastern Syria and northern Iraq) were encompassed in the empire at its height. Even though the Hittite Empire had a power to control the wealthy cities on the Mediterranean coast, the empire had collapsed by 1160BC. There were some political causes of the collapse of the Hittite empire. First, the Hittites were defeated by Egypt in the Battle of Kadesh with Rameses, and competitor had continued to make threats the weakened Hittites. Second, Internal problems, such as the conflict between two different lines of the royal family, which may have resulted eventually in a civil war, are one of the main reasons for the downfall of the Hittite empire. (Hittites) However, one of the Hittite cultures such as a part of Syria still survived. For instance, Carchemish had once been under the power of the Hittite. These Neo-Hittites used a hieroglyphic script called Luwian, and it is a language related to Hittite. The names of the city in Turkey are copied from the Hittite’s name such as Sinop or Adana, revealing the effect of Hittite culture in Anatolia. (CrabbenJan, 2012)
In Bryce’ article “The Last Days of Hattusa”, he explained the last days of the Hittite empire, he said that the city was invaded and burned but not before many of the residents had already abandoned the city. He also explained how the city of Hattusa, the location of Hittite empire, was almost destroyed several times, but it eventually rose again. (BryceTrevor, 2013)
Also, famines in Egypt caused by drought may have affected the agriculture and it might be a main factor leading to the collapse of Bonze Age. We can see that this is not only an environmental problem but also an economic problem because agriculture affected by drought had a huge effect on economic activity during that period. The researchers, linked with the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Pennsylvania and Smithsonian Institution, confirmed that the collapse of the late Bronze Age with several Eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern states related to large climatic changes. (Wiener, Noah, 2012) Experts have pondered the collapse of the late Bronze civilization for a long time and now they believe that they have uncovered the cause by investigating grains of fossilized pollen. In a study published Monday in Tel Aviv: Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, researchers said “it was drought that led to the collapse in the ancient southern Levant.” Theories have involved the patterns of warfare, plagues and earthquakes. However, only recently advances in science have a chance at pinpointing the cause and making the case. The journal reported that “an unusually high-resolution analysis of pollen grains taken from sediment beneath the Sea of Galilee and the western shore of the Dead Sea backed up by a robust chronology of radiocarbon dating, have pinpointed the period of crisis to the years 1250 to 1100 B.C.” (KERSHNERISABEL, 2013)
Recently, to find out the evidence of the collapse of the Bronze Age Empire, TAU archaeologists dug under Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. Now Prof. Israel Finkelstein and Dr. Dafna Langgut of the Dr. Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and Prof. Thomas Litt of the University of Bonn in Germany have discovered a cause of collapse in the pollen at the bottom of Israel's lakes. According to the research, the most enduring organic material is Pollen in nature. Dr. Langgut, a pollen researcher, explained that "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." Every plant produces a distinct pollen print, and the recent studies showed a decrease in trees requiring a great deal of water and an increase in the cultivation of dry-climate trees, such as olive trees, during the period between 1250 and 1100 B.C.E. All combinations of studies of technological, archaeological, and historical analysis showed the comprehensive picture of the environmental disaster. (TAU Solves a 3,000-Year-Old Mystery with Pollen, 2013)
Therefore, we can understand that there are several reasons for the collapse of the Hittite empire such as political, environmental, ecological and economic etc.
It is hard to say that only one problem causes a collapse or a severe downturn of a society. When it comes to choosing a major reason for a disintegration of a country, however, the political cause could be the most severe one. There is a saying that “You have to watch for your internal enemy” in Korea. Although a society has economic, environmental, and, ecological stability, the country cannot be stable at all if there is political problem in it. In other words, if there are two or more political parties that always fight each other, the society cannot last long. Hittite empire could be one of the instances that experienced an internal conflict, which eventually caused the disintegration of the empire. This political conflict is not the problem only for Hittite empire but it can also have a bad impact on our own society.

References
Bellows, S. (2010). The trouble with civilization, ancient cities reveal the vulnerabilities of modern societies. The University of Virginia Magazine. Retrieve from: http://uvamagazine.org/features/article/the_trouble_with_civilization/#.Un3KaZSY6wk.
Bryce, T. (2013, September 27). The Last Days of Hattusa. Biblical Archaeology Society.
Retrieved November 8, 2013, Retrieve from: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-near-eastern-world/the-last-days-of-hattusa Der Crabben, J. V. (2012, January 18). History of the Hittites. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 8, 2013. Retrieve from: http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/169. British Museum. (n.d.). Hittites. British Museum -. Retrieved November 8, 2013, Retrieve from; http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/cultures/middle_east/hittites.aspx
Howley, A. (2013). Is every civilization destined to collapse? National Geographic.
Retrieve from: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/05/01/the-ancient-past-as-a-window-to-the-future-part-3-of-3.
KERSHNER, I. (2013, October 22). Pollen Study Points to Drought as Culprit in Bronze Age Mystery. New York Times, 1-2. Retrieved November 4, 2013. Retrieve from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/world/middleeast/pollen-study-points-to-culprit-in-bronze-era-mystery.html?_r=0
TAU Solves a 3,000-Year-Old Mystery with Pollen. (2013, October 22). In American Friends of
Tel Aviv University. Retrieved November 3, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=19310
Wiener, N. (2012, August, 20). Tracing Drought in Ancient Egypt through Pollen Analysis.
BIBLE HISTORY DAILY. Retrieved from: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-near-eastern-world/tracing-drought-in-ancient-egypt-through-pollen-analysis/
Wiener, N. (2013, October 21). Bronze Age Collapse: Pollen Study Highlights Late Bronze Age
Drought. BIBLE HISTORY DAILY, 1. Retrieved November 4, 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-near-eastern-world/tracing-drought-in-ancient-egypt-through-pollen-analysis/

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