14. Time, Consilience and Climate-history Associations: Details, and the Case of the End of the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1200 BCE)
Sturt W. Manning [+]
Attempts to bring scientific climate data into dialogue with archaeological and historical evidence – a ‘consilient’ approach – are in many cases, given present data, more difficult than appreciated. To begin, there is often the initial challenge to relate timings with sufficient accuracy and precision to permit possible correlation. But, even if this is possible, correlation is not causation. This requires an explanatory narrative rooted in the specific social, economic and political context, in terms of impacts and effects on these inter-connected systems at the local and regional level. This paper considers aspects of the Late Bronze Age case in the east Mediterranean. It finds, as of early 2020 (when this paper was reviewed and revised), that for this topic we presently largely lack sufficient control of the timescale, yet alone an ability thus to address causation in any detail. More generally, the paper supports the view that the climate-history field needs to move from a relatively naive and “pervasive scientism” to an engaged historicism if we are ever fully to engage with the multifaceted relationships between climate and human history.