An ancient mystery — or two or three?

Here’s a little mystery from 2011. Apparently, the fighting in Syria has prevented any newsworthy new discoveries. It’s an archaeologic site called Tell Qarqur, the buried remains of a city that was thriving “about 4,200 years ago.” The mystery is that archeaeologists believe it was during that period that “ancient civilizations across the Middle East collapsed, possibly in response to a global drought.” Supposedly this drought was so bad, “Along with the Mesopotamian and eastern Mediterranean societies that met their demise, Old Kingdom Egypt, a civilization that built the Great Pyramids, collapsed. ‘A different weather system reduced the flow of the Nile River at the same period so the Nile was affected.'”(quoting Harvey Weiss of Yale University) So how did this city keep thriving?

“The Orontes River is fed by a huge underground chamber of water, which is called a Karst,” Weiss said. “That huge underground source of water continued to flow and to feed the Orontes River during this period when rainfall was diminished.”

Well, it seems plausible, but do we really know? If changes in the weather affected the mighty Nile so much, would even a huge karst have kept supplying plenty of water? The article does note that “not all scholars are convinced that climate change was the main cause for the collapse of cities in the Middle East.”(citing Jesse Casana, a professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas)

A thesis submitted earlier argued that the dating should be adjusted by 100 years (more or less), based on “Results combining new, secure radiocarbon evidence and pottery sequences — as well as comparisons with other sites…”

Of course, nobody in those days knew how to measure how much carbon-14 was in the atmosphere, and while the relative dating based on shared pottery designs and techniques is considered solid, there are no records of just how long it took various localities to adopt or import new styles. Just think how quickly styles of things change nowadays, and there are examples of cultural fickleness and even vacillation back and forth.  Can we be sure some tribes didn’t stubbornly resist foreign imports and fancy new styles, while some cities delighted in everything new?

References:
http://www.livescience.com/15267-ancient-city-mysteriously-survived-mideast-civilization-collapse.html
Ancient City Mysteriously Survived Mideast Civilization Collapse
by Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor | July 28, 2011 08:39am ET

http://www.academia.edu/5357013/THE_EARLY_BRONZE_AGE_IV_TO_MIDDLE_BRONZE_AGE_I_TRANSITION_IN_THE_ORONTES_VALLEY_SYRIA_A_VIEW_FROM_TELL_QARQUR

THE EARLY BRONZE AGE IV TO MIDDLE BRONZE AGE I TRANSITION IN THE ORONTES VALLEY, SYRIA: A VIEW FROM TELL QARQUR
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Anthropology
By Amy Beth Karoll
University of Wisconsin — La Crosse
(Bachelor of Science in Archaeological Studies, 2009)
May 2011
University of Arkansas