Late Bronze Age climate change and the destruction of the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor at Pylos

PLoS One. 2017 Dec 27;12(12):e0189447. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0189447. eCollection 2017.

Abstract

This paper offers new high-resolution oxygen and carbon isotope data from Stalagmite S1 from Mavri Trypa Cave, SW Peloponnese. Our data provide the climate background to the destruction of the nearby Mycenaean Palace of Nestor at Pylos at the transition from Late Helladic (LH) IIIB to LH IIIC, ~3150-3130 years before present (before AD 1950, hereafter yrs BP) and the subsequent period. S1 is dated by 24 U-Th dates with an averaged precision of ±26 yrs (2σ), providing one of the most robust paleoclimate records from the eastern Mediterranean for the end of the Late Bronze Age (LBA). The δ18O record shows generally wetter conditions at the time when the Palace of Nestor at Pylos was destroyed, but a brief period of drier conditions around 3200 yrs BP may have disrupted the Mycenaean agricultural system that at the time was likely operating close to its limit. Gradually developing aridity after 3150 yrs BP, i.e. subsequent to the destruction, probably reduced crop yields and helped to erode the basis for the reinstitution of a central authority and the Palace itself.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaeology*
  • Climate Change*
  • Fossils
  • Greece
  • Radiometric Dating

Grant support

This work was funded by the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (http://www.aegeanprehistory.net/), and the Swedish Research Council (www.vr.se), grant numbers: 421-2014-1181 (M.F.) and 621-2012-4344 (K.H.). Funding was also provided by grants from Taiwan ROC MOST (104-2119-M-002-003, 105-2119-M-002-001 to C.-C.S.) and the National Taiwan University (105R7625 to C.-C.S.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.