Late Bronze Age climate change and the destruction of the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor at Pylos
Martin Finné, Karin Holmgren, Chuan-Chou Shen, Hsun-Ming Hu, Meighan Boyd & Sharon Stocker PLoS ONE12(12): e0189447 (December 27, 2017)
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.