Monday, May 11, 2020

History of the Bronze Age One Percent

The MycenaeCorp Lion Gate?
The New York Times publishes an intriguing, pretty speculative account of the collapse of Bronze Age powers such as Mycenae in Greece and Ugarit in Syria -- and concludes popular uprisings against the one-percent may have been vital factors.
Until recently, historians blamed this collapse on marauders known as the Sea People. Supposedly these Sea People sacked the cities, leaving the once-great kingdoms of the Mediterranean to be menaced by pirates or worse.
New research has challenged this whole story. Eric Cline, a classicist at George Washington University and author of “1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed,” explained that there’s no evidence of invaders coming from the outside at Mycenae, so violence must have come from within. Given what’s known about these societies, he concludes that the city’s lower classes may have gotten fed up and burned it all down. Josephine Quinn, an archaeologist at University of Oxford, agrees. “The whole Bronze Age system produces a lot of discontent,” she told me.
The story includes a shout-out to Sarah Murray, a classics professor at the University of Toronto and author of “The Collapse of the Mycenaean Economy

It’s unlikely that many of these people missed the old ways. “Were they ever concerned about whether the king was adequately supplied with fancy jewelry and ostrich eggs from Egypt?” Ms. Murray asked. “I’d bet that they were not. If anything, the demise of the palaces could have made life easier for them.”
Saddest part of the story is the contemporary takeaway: today's one percent is probably better equipped to defend its hegemony despite the current upheavals.

[21st century privilege issue: Only the digitally subscribed may be able to read this Times story. Right now those are probably more than one percent of readers of this blog, but still...]

Follow @CmedMoore