The Demise of the Únĕtice Culture due to the Reduced Availability of Natural Resources for Bronze Production (A Draft)

After a long period of prosperity, the Únĕtice (2300-1600 B.C.) – a Central European Early Bronze Age culture – collapsed in few decades without obvious reason. Since Únĕtice was the first bronze metalworkers of Central Europe, we examine whether the reduced availability of bronze could have triggered the social collapse. We claim that it could have been so since such reduction could have implied changed trade routes, socio-economic turmoil and severe disruption of the social stratification. We provide a detailed analysis of two reasons related to shortages of inputs used to produce bronze which could explain the demise of bronze production. The first is about tin ores which could have been exhausted or become extremely scarce since only alluvial deposits of tin were used by followers of the Únĕtice culture. The second is about wood since the production of bronze requires huge quantities of wood and charcoal used as fuel, leading to deforestation. Both reasons are complementary, and combined with the reduced productivity of agriculture implied by the anthropogenic pressure on ecosystems, all three may have led to a bronze crisis, and the demise of the Únĕtice culture.

Issue Date:
Aug 23 2017
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
Record Identifier:
Total Pages:
JEL Codes:
N5 ; O44 ; Q32 ; Z13
Series Statement:
Economics, Ecology and the Environment

 Record created 2017-08-23, last modified 2018-01-23

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