Late second-early first millennium BC abrupt climate changes in coastal Syria and their possible significance for the history of the Eastern Mediterranean
The alluvial deposits near Gibala-Tell Tweini provide a unique record of environmental history and food availability estimates covering the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. The refined pollen-derived climatic proxy suggests that drier climatic conditions occurred in the Mediterranean belt of Syria from the late 13th/early 12th centuries BC to the 9th century BC. This period corresponds with the time frame of the Late Bronze Age collapse and the subsequent Dark Age. The abrupt climate change at the end of the Late Bronze Age caused region-wide crop failures, leading towards socio-economic crises and unsustainability, forcing regional habitat-tracking. Archaeological data show that the first conflagration of Gibala occurred simultaneously with the destruction of the capital city Ugarit currently dated between 1194 and 1175 BC. Gibala redeveloped shortly after this destruction, with large-scale urbanization visible in two main architectural phases during the Early Iron Age I. The later Iron Age I city was destroyed during a second conflagration, which is radiocarbon-dated at circa 2950 cal yr BP. The data from Gibala-Tell Tweini provide evidence in support of the drought hypothesis as a triggering factor behind the Late Bronze Age collapse in the Eastern Mediterranean.