2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 150-12
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM


FALLU, Daniel J., Department of Archaeology, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Avenue, Suite 347, Boston, MA 02215; Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 54 Souidias St, Athens, GR-106 76, Greece, fallu@bu.edu

Despite decades of focus on complex systems interaction and overall drive toward societal explanation for the failure of Bronze Age socio-economic systems at Mycenae, Greece, the complex nature of human-environment interaction has lent resilience to the “natural disaster hypothesis.” Ongoing climatic and sedimentological research suggests that this disaster was not brought about by a sudden drought or “dry spell,” but rather that any drying period was long-lived and gradual. Nonetheless, the sedimentary history of the Argolid, one of the most intensely settled regions in Bronze Age Greece, shows discontinuous yet substantial slope wash and alluviation dating to the collapse of palaces.

The site of Mycenae, located at the northern boundary of the Argolid horst-and-graben, is situated in a tectonically unstable and erosionally active zone. A previously discovered episode of fault activation, circa 3.2 ka, is marked by ceramic-dated alluvial deposits along the major axial channel, the Chavos stream. A 1.5 m thick deposit of debris flows, appearing to immediately post-date the fault activation, buried Bronze Age remains at the Lower Town of Mycenae. The author here outlines a multi-scalar approach utilizing soil micromorphology, granulometry, and standard geomorphological description for the reconstruction of the depositional history of this deposit. Initial results suggest a period of landscape instability resulting in multiple episodes of slope activation following 3.2 ka. While these results are preliminary, the emergent narrative results from the interaction of climatic and tectonic forces. The impact of human occupation on rapid landscape change is therefore questioned for the Argolid. It is hoped that the in-depth investigation of this period of rapid burial may lead to an understanding of the pre-conditions of sudden change and, by extension, to a better picture of the Argolid environment during the Mycenaean collapse.