That, of course, was a blatant attempt to work the 2008 crash into the conversation. Niall Sharples waits until the conclusion of his book to do it.
"It is a little easier to to explain how catastrophic the end of the Bronze Age was, given the collapse of the financial markets that devastated national economies in 2008. In the Bronze Age, bronze was as important as money is today; it connected people and created a system whereby other people relied on others to provided materials that were not locally available, animals when they were needed for consumption and sexual partners necessary for the continuity of human communities. In times of crisis, the credit built up through the long-term exchange of gifts would enable people to acquire the essentials to rebuild their lives. It also provided a way of classifying and contrasting people and communities by status and identity. The complex system of exchange relationships, and indebtedness, which had been operating for over 1,000 years, was completely undermined and abandoned at the end of the Bronze Age." (Sharples, 312--13.)
|As far as I can tell, this collection of bronze tools is from the Metropolitan Museum collection, but is being used to illustrate the holdings of an online auction site that sells authentic(?) Bronze Age artefacts. The saw at the centre is particularly interesting, but Bronze Age saws are apparently rare, and the provenance of one that shows up on Ancientartefacts.com could hardly be more dubious. Adzes, on the other hand, are ubiquitous, and the carpenter's level is just cool.|
|I intended to use a graphic that purports to trace Third Century invasions of Gaul by hoard distributions, but this one is much more interesting. The source is a Powerpoint illustration posted at LinkedIn by instructor Robert Ehrlich|
For Wessex, this brief revival of foreign interest must have been flattering, but it will be recalled that the first hillforts made prodigious use of timbers that had been left to grow unmolested for sixty or more years. By the time the locals rallied around their hillforts, the grass had been growing in the streets for two generations or so. Whatever the phase that followed directly after the realisation that they'd been paid in Confederate dollars was like, it presumably involved some significant social disruption.
|Source: Park Hall Farm Museum|
|Tower of Silence, Bombay, 1880|
|Because of the vultures, which may or may not be associated with a shamanistic bird cult. In which case the shamans who inhabit birds during their out-of-body experiences eat the ancestors' bodies? Weird.|
It also brings me to the other bit of new scholarship that I want to patch to Sharples to make a post. A distinct shortage of temples has been an embarrassment for Iron Age Greek archaeology for some time. Do we take this strange vacation from temple building seriously, or write it off as an artefact of an incomplete archaeological record? Antonis Kotsonas believes that the record is now complete enough that we have to take it seriously, and I have to take him seriously, because he's got a database and everything. Most Bronze Age sanctuaries were abandoned at the LBA-EIA transition. Temple building only revives, and dramatically so, after 800BC, and for the most part in the south and southeast; in the Peloponnese, Attica and the Cyclades. So Sophocles, speaking through Tiresias, is two-and-a-half centuries out from the revival of the temple. It's a long period of time for an oral culture, but it's the closest thing we have to a window to the mindset of the transitional phase, and we should take it seriously.
As to what that means . . . Well, at the moment, I got nothing, though I'm hoping for profound revelations when I engage modern Assyriological cuneiform studies.