Climate Context

Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee showing the droughts
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee. In historical times it shows two major droughts with several minor ones. Minor droughts are indicated anytime the curves turn downward. 
The 50 year long Great Drought of 1180 to 1140 BCE (Iron Age 1 period) is what ended the Bronze Age and the 5-year long Elijah drought of 845-840 BCE. The yellow gives the tree pollen level while the green gives the non-tree pollen level. (Langut and Finkelsein 2013)

Droughts Defined the Archaeological Periods in the Levant

(April 2, 2022) Droughts separate the archaeological periods in the Levant. States weakened by local droughts were often subject to raids right after the droughts by Mesopotamian empires which were unaffected due to their irrigation. Below is the latest widely accepted chronology proposed by Amihai Mazar in 2014 shown below: 

Droughts According to Drought Chart

  1. 1180-1140 BCE - Great Drought
  2. 980 BCE
  3. 845-840 BCE - Elijah Drought
  4. 732 BCE - led to Assyrian invasion
  5. 605 BCE - led to Babylonian invasion


Langut, D. Finkelsein, I, Litt, T. (2013) Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Levant. Tel Aviv 40:149-175. Online at
Mazar, Amihai (2005) The Debate over the Chronology of the Iron Age in the Southern Levant: its History, the Current Situation and a Suggested Resolution. pp. 15-30 in: T. Levy and T. Higham (editors), The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating - Archaeology, Text and Science. London. Online at:
This tree ring sample from a slow growing drought resistant juniper tree from Anatolia shows the years 1198 to 1196 BCE were the most extreme drought years in a 50 year dry period. The Hittite Empire is postulated to have collapsed near the end of these three years with the voluntary abandonment of its capital and major cities. (Nutt, Feb 2023)

Tree Ring Data Where Available Provides Higher Climate Resolution

The juniper trees found in the tomb were  Juniperus  excelsa and Juniperus foetidissima.


Manning, S.W., Kocik, C., Lorentzen, B. et al. (2023) Severe multi-year drought coincident with Hittite collapse around 1198–1196 bc. Nature.

Nutt, David (Feb 8, 2023) Rare drought coincided with Hittite Empire collapse. Online at:

Severe droughts seem to occur at a rate of 3 per every 100 years yet only multi-year droughts over a wide area lead to social instability due to lack of food. Three instances of the driest 6.25% of years occurring consecutively in Anatolia exist. Only the Bronze Age Collapse drought covered enough territory to be history changing. This data was assembled from tree rings and isotope ratios within those wood samples. (Manning and all, 2023)

  1. 1494–1492 BCE 
  2. 1198–1196 BCE (Bronze Age Collapse shown with gray bar)
  3. 871–869 BCE

Midas Mound at Gordion, Turkey

Midas Mound at Gordion is a human-made 53-meter-tall structure located west of Ankara, Turkey. The mound contains a wooden structure believed to be a burial chamber for a relative of King Midas, possibly his father.  (Nutt, Feb 2023)

Wood Source Inside Midas Mound

Wooden structure inside Midas Mound and source of the Juniper tree ring data.  (Nutt, Feb 2023)
This shows the viewing range of a recent eclipse over northern Mesopotamia. Image from:

Solar Eclipses

A solar eclipse should have been viewable in the Levant on June 15, 763 BCE. It was recorded by Assyrian observers in Nineveh (