Why did the ancient Mediterranean civilizations collapse?  Science brings elements…    GEO

Why did the ancient Mediterranean civilizations collapse? Science brings elements… GEO

Natural disasters, war, famine, depopulation… There are many factors that can accelerate the decline of a civilization. Recently, researchers showed that a terrible drought in the famous city of Mayapan played a crucial role in the demise of the Maya civilization. In a new study published July 25, 2022 in the journal Current Biology and discovered by Science Alert, scientists have examined the disappearance of the Bronze Age (from 2700 to 900 BC) Mediterranean empires. And again, the causes could be different than previously determined.

⋙ The Mayans would have started waging violent war long before the decline of their civilization

Involved in plague and salmonellosis epidemics?

As Science Alert reminds us, several thousand years before our era, the history of several civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean took a dramatic turn at about the same time. The mighty ancient Egyptian empire, and in particular the empire of Akkad, collapsed between 2200 and 2000 BC. together. Climate change and political instability have long been blamed for the decline in population and trade in these regions of the ancient Middle East and Aegean. But researchers have just identified a new factor that may have contributed.

⋙ Mesopotamia: the main periods of its history

In a cave called “Hagios Charalambos” on Crete, a team led by archaeogeneticist Gunnar Neumann from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany) made the amazing discovery. By sequencing ancient DNA from excavated remains, they identified bacteria in ancient bones responsible for history’s deadliest diseases, Yersinia pestis (or plague bacillus) and Salmonella enterica (salmonellosis). Therefore, in their opinion, infectious diseases cannot be ignored to explain the changes these societies have undergone.

Traces of bacteria from the Bronze Age

Yersinia pestis was the source of three devastating pandemics: the Plague of Justinian (541-767), the Black Death (541-767), and a third pandemic in the late 19th century. As influential as the bacterium may have been, its transmission prior to 541 was always difficult to assess. Traces from the Neolithic period have been found, but there is no evidence that the pathology reached epidemic proportions at that time. Furthermore, these elements were only listed in cold regions where DNA is well preserved. So much so that the effects of the plague on ancient societies with warmer climates remain very mysterious.

Fortunately, the newly analyzed bones were recovered from a location known for its cool and stable conditions. DNA from teeth of 32 people born between 2290 and 1909 BC. died. AD was thus removed, revealing the presence of a range of common oral bacteria. Above all, however, the occurrence of Yersinia pestis in two individuals and Salmonella enterica in two others. Both pathogens have therefore been circulating in Crete since the Bronze Age… and could therefore possibly have been transmitted on a large scale – even if their virulence and their transmission routes at that time are still completely unknown.

Although it is unlikely that Y. pestis or S. enterica were solely responsible for the societal changes that took place in the Mediterranean area by the end of the 3rd millennium BC, an additional contributing factor; possibly an interaction with climate and migration, which was previously suspected, the researchers conclude in the study.

Scientists now suggest that more detailed genetic screening of remains discovered in the eastern Mediterranean could help uncover more about the impact of these diseases on the ancient civilizations that lived there.

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