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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Late Bronze Age climate change and the destruction of the Mycenaean Palace of Nestor at Pylos

Finne, Martin; Holmgren, Karin; Shen, Chuan-Chou; Hu, Hsun-Ming; Boyd, Meighan; Stocker, Sharon


This paper offers new high-resolution oxygen and carbon isotope data from Stalagmite S1 from Mavri Trypa Cave, SW Peloponnese. Our data provide the climate background to the destruction of the nearby Mycenaean Palace of Nestor at Pylos at the transition from Late Helladic (LH) IIIB to LH IIIC, similar to 3150-3130 years before present (before AD 1950, hereafter yrs BP) and the subsequent period. S1 is dated by 24 U-Th dates with an averaged precision of +/- 26 yrs (2s), providing one of the most robust paleoclimate records from the eastern Mediterranean for the end of the Late Bronze Age (LBA). The delta O-18 record shows generally wetter conditions at the time when the Palace of Nestor at Pylos was destroyed, but a brief period of drier conditions around 3200 yrs BP may have disrupted the Mycenaean agricultural system that at the time was likely operating close to its limit. Gradually developing aridity after 3150 yrs BP, i.e. subsequent to the destruction, probably reduced crop yields and helped to erode the basis for the reinstitution of a central authority and the Palace itself.


climate change; history; Pylos

Published in

2017, volume: 12, number: 12, article number: e0189447

Authors' information

Finné, Martin
Uppsala University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, University management
Stockholm University
Navarino Environmental Observatory
Shen, Chuan-Chou
National Taiwan University
Hu, Hsun-Ming
National Taiwan University
Boyd, Meighan
Stockholm University
Stocker, Sharon
University of Cincinnati

UKÄ Subject classification

Climate Research

Publication Identifiers


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