Rapid climate change did not cause population collapse at the end of the European Bronze Age

Ian Armit, Graeme T. Swindles, Katharina Becker, Gill Plunkett, Maarten Blaauw

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The impact of rapid climate change on contemporary human populations is of global concern. To contextualize our understanding of human responses to rapid climate change it is necessary to examine the archeological record during past climate transitions. One episode of abrupt climate change has been correlated with societal collapse at the end of the northwestern European Bronze Age. We apply new methods to interrogate archeological and paleoclimate data for this transition in Ireland at a higher level of precision than has previously been possible. We analyze archeological 14C dates to demonstrate dramatic population collapse and present high-precision proxy climate data, analyzed through Bayesian methods, to provide evidence for a rapid climatic transition at ca. 750 calibrated years B.C. Our results demonstrate that this climatic downturn did not initiate population collapse and highlight the nondeterministic nature of human responses to past climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17045-17049
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number48
Early online date17 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 02 Dec 2014


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