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

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-27, 15:38 authored by I Armit, GT Swindles, K Becker, G Plunkett, M Blaauw
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 (14)C 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.


The research forms part of the Mobility, Climate and Culture: Re-Modelling the Irish Iron Age project, funded by the British Academy. Preliminary data collection was funded by the Irish Heritage Council.



Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 2014, 111 (48), pp. 17045-17049

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of Archaeology and Ancient History


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A


National Academy of Sciences



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