Resilience and Persistence of Ancient Societies

A 2018 paper in the journal World Archaeology the IHOPE-project Domesticated Landscapes of the Peloponnese (DoLP) discusses resilience and persistence of ancient societies in the face of climate change: based on the landscapes of the Peloponnese during Bronze Age.

Instances of resilience and persistence in ancient societies during periods of climate stress are necessary as counter weights to simplified collapse archaeology. The authors offer an evaluation of societal trajectories during the Late Bronze Age (LBA) in the Peloponnese against the backdrop of recently available local climate data. By considering climate volatility as well as climate change, the long-term perspective suggests that the end of the LBA should be viewed in light of the socio-environmental mismatches that developed during its earlier phases. Varying socio-political complexity and population densities are preconditioning components for inherent resilience under climate stress and climate impacts cannot be determined by climate conditions alone. While arid climate does not equal negative societal change, beneficial climate conditions may be favourable in the relative short term while at the same time supporting an ultimately unsustainable economy that proved detrimental in the long term.