The Rise and Fall of Civilizations
PREVIOUS X WAVES
In Part II, reviews of each of the three ascending X Waves that appear in the most recently completed Y wave include a section showing the extent of civilization's advance at the height of the wave, a section on causes of subsequent decline, and a section outlining the extent of that decline. Part III of the article will provide further commentary on these declines, the most recent of which coincided with a major decline at the end of a Z wave, along with commentary on modern civilization at the height of the present X Wave.
Early Bronze Age: 3200 to 2300 BC (Wave Z1Y5X1)
Extent of Advance
Two great civilizations that were precursors to modern Western Civilization emerged in the Early Bronze Age: Sumeria in Southern Mesopotamia, and Egypt in Northeastern Africa.
Sumerian civilization was a loose confederation of theocratic city-states, which had monumental architecture and complex social structures. Flood control provided a flourishing agricultural economy, enhanced by manufacturing and foreign trade. Inter-city wars were common, and mini-empires arose, as one city captured some of its neighbors. Around 2350 BC the ruler of Erech, Lugalzaggissi, conquered all of Sumeria, creating an extensive empire.
Despite the internecine wars, Sumerian civilization was remarkably stable for a long time. With culture and religion showing only gradual changes, some cities were inhabited for 2,000 years or more.
For Egypt, the Early Bronze Age represents Dynasties I through VI, the Proto Dynastic and Old Kingdom Periods. Around 3200 BC, Menes founded Dynasty I as the first ruler of a combined Upper and Lower Egypt. Little is known of the first two Dynasties, the Proto Dynastic Period, but we take this period to represent incipient Egyptian civilization. The Old Kingdom period, starting with Dynasty III, represents the height of Egyptian civilization in the Early Bronze Age.
One measure of a civilization is the monumentality of its buildings, an indication of wealth exceeding a society's survival needs. Early step pyramids of Dynasty III were succeeded by the Dynasty IV pyramids at Giza, which rank among the greatest monuments produced by mankind. Monumental construction in Dynasty V was smaller, but more ornate. Dynasty VI monuments display artistic inferiority, lack of originality, and shoddy craftsmanship, to the extent that most have long since been reduced to rubbish heaps. This is a fascinating architectural progression: from prototype, to grandeur, to beauty, to cheap imitation. In this case, reduced monumentality served as a leading indicator of decline beginning to take place after remarkable advances.
In other respects, Dynasty VI represented the height of Egyptian civilization, with trading, exploratory, and military expeditions well beyond Egypt's borders. This superficial greatness masked great underlying stresses, however, as we can see from the monuments of the period. From Dynasty IV on, the grandeur of Egypt, represented by these religious monuments, placed a growing strain on national resources. Mortuary cults, responsible for maintenance of the monuments, had to be supported. As the number of monuments grew, so did the financial burden on the state. Meanwhile, pharaohs periodically exempted temple estates and other organizations from taxation, reducing state revenues.
Causes of Decline
In addition to causes listed separately for Sumeria and Egypt, there is geological, climatic, and archaeological evidence that some kind of natural catastrophic event occurred in the Middle East around 2300 BC, causing widespread damage. See Second SIS Cambridge Conference: Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilizations, for more details on this - http://www.knowledge.co.uk/sis/cambproc.htm .
The Akkadians were Semitic semi-nomads that settled north of Sumeria, and lived in peace with the Sumerians, absorbing some of their culture. A low-born Akkadian, Sargon, unified his nation, then conquered Sumeria c.2325 BC, just a few years following the Sumerian unification under Lugalzaggisi. Thus, it is likely that Sumerian cities were not strongly united in defense of the Sumerian Empire, local rulers hoping that war with Akkadia would return independence to their individual city-states.
Around 2150 BC, eastern nomads called Gutians overran the Akkadian Empire and destroyed it. We are not sure what factors allowed the Gutians to succeed, but there is speculation that plague, famine, and/or drought played a role.
We do know that a water shortage in Palestine about this time eliminated urban life there for two centuries, reducing the population to semi-nomads. Famine is also mentioned in Egypt at about the same time. If this change in weather patterns extended as far as the catchment areas of the Tigris and Euphrates, on which Sumerian/Akkadian agriculture relied, the effects on their civilization would have been substantial. What is certain, is that west of Sumer and Akkadia the urban population declined while the nomadic population increased.
Mesopotamian cities also had major pollution problems. Lack of indoor toilets and ineffective garbage collection led to contaminated water supplies and frequent epidemics such as Typhus.
In any event, the Gutian assault, by destroying Akkadia, brought a renaissance to Sumeria. The Gutians were evicted and Sumerian civilization revived for a century. Then, c. 1950BC, Sumer was overrun by two new groups of Semitic nomads, the Amorites and Elamites, who laid waste to the Sumerian cities, burning them to the ground. Sumerian writers blamed their destruction on abandonment by their gods, and perhaps we can infer that a decline in morality and religious fervor and loss of traditional values preceded their fall.
Pepi II, the last pharaoh of Dynasty VI, reigned for 94 years, including a long period of senility. In his last decades, Pepi II was unable to cope with the slow disintegration of Egypt. Financial problems already mentioned had brought the state to bankruptcy. There was discontent among the masses, a spirit of rebellion among the nobles, and a lack of loyalty among the provincial governors.
According to opening paragraphs of a papyrus known as Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage, the immediate cause of Egypt's fall was an invasion of the Delta by Asiatics and lowborn adventurers. This initial blow was followed by class warfare and civil strife that ripped Egypt apart. Excerpts from the papyrus: "The wrongdoer is everywhere. There is no man of yesterday. A man goes out to plough with his shield. A man smites his brother. The Robber is a possessor of riches. Boxes of ebony are broken up. Precious acacia wood is cleft asunder. He who possessed no property is now a man of wealth. Every town says: let us suppress the powerful among us. The possessors of robes are now in rags. Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and turquoise are fastened on the necks of female slaves. When their mistress speaks it is irksome to the servants. The children of princes are dashed against the walls." The papyrus concludes by admonishing a return to piety, from which we might infer a similar decline of morality as is presumed to have taken place in Sumer.
Extent of Decline: Intermediate Bronze Age - 2300 to 2000 BC (Wave Z1Y5X2)
The Sumerians ceased to exist as a distinct people by 2000 BC.
The First Intermediate Period in Egypt, 2280 BC to 2050 BC, corresponds with the Intermediate Bronze Age in Mesopotamia, and is represented by Dynasties VII through X. Dynasty VII was an oligarchy of 70 men who ruled for only 70 days, indicative of the kind of political and social turmoil taking place during this period of an Elliott corrective wave.
The First Intermediate Period is characterized by banditry and internecine warfare, ruination of the upper classes, plunder of burial sites, and decline of religion. Provincial governors were independent of central government. Inscriptions of the period speak of famine, possibly due to poor inundations of the Nile. There were no large-scale construction projects, and works of art were crude. Unlike the Sumerians, Egypt survived, but her power and influence were much reduced.
Conditions stabilized somewhat during Dynasties IX and X. The foreigners occupying the Delta were expelled, but Egypt was not fully reunified.
Middle and Late Bronze Ages: 2000 to 1200 BC (Wave Z1Y5X3)
This wave count, 2000 to 1200 BC, as presented in our earlier articles, now appears to have more accurately ended c.1186 BC. In his recent revision to The Hittites, reprinted 1999, J.G. Macqueen explains the dating problem this way:
"One problem which any writer on the ancient Middle East must face is that of chronology. Many of the dates established for the area are ultimately dependant on Egyptian sources, and professional Egyptologists have a habit, baffling to the outsider but necessary due to the complexity of their material, of revising their chronology either upwards or downwards on almost an annual basis."
As you can imagine, our various dates come from numerous source materials written over the course of several decades, making it nigh on impossible to produce a consistent and accurate chronology. At this point, we have decided to leave the dates for this X Wave as originally presented in previous articles, and provide the reader with this explanation of our difficulties.
Extent of Advance
There were a number of powerful states during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages: the Mycenean civilization in Greece, the First Babylonian Empire in Southern Mesopotamia, the Hittites in Eastern Anatolia, Assyria in Northern Mesopotamia, and the resurgent Egyptian civilization.
Mycenean civilization consisted of a number of small states throughout the Greek peninsula. Monumental construction included giant, stone, dome-shaped, earth-covered, "tholos" tombs, containing a wealth of luxury goods. Extensive trade included import of gold, tin, and copper, while exported Mycenean objects have been found as far away as Italy, Asia Minor, and Central Europe. Around 1400 BC, Mycenean Greeks came to dominate the Minoan civilization of Crete.
After 1400 BC, Mycenean civilization developed palace/fortress complexes that resembled Medieval castles, including the Acropolis of Athens, Thebes in Boeotia, and Pylos and Myceneae in the Peloponnese. During the 13th Century BC, many of these walls were strengthened and extended, the walls at Mycenae being 18 feet wide.
The Amorites developed a civilization incorporating many cultural elements of Sumeria. The Amorite capital of Babylon, established c. 2000 BC, was a monumental construction in its own right. Babylonian civilization reached its height c.1750 BC under Hammurabi, the first famous lawgiver, who extended Babylonian rule to all of Mesopotamia.
Babylonian invention of the steelyard scale allowed precious metals, silver and gold, to be used as money, rather than just ornamentation and a store of wealth. This allowed for a complex economy including contracts and leases, loans at interest, credit accounts with merchants, and even prototype central banking. There were craft guilds and financial districts. International trade was conducted as far away as Egypt and India.
Some aspects of Babylonian civilization spread throughout the Middle East, including their standard of weights and measures. Some aspects have survived as part of modern civilization, including the 24 hour day, 7 day week, and 360 degrees to a circle.
Babylonia declined in the 17th Century, and was conquered by the Kassites c.1600 BC. The Kassites did not merely maintain Babylonian civilization as they found it. They devoted themselves to a complete revival of Mesopotamian civilization, including reconstruction of the Sumerian holy city of Nippur. This was an incredible undertaking, done on a grand scale, with painstaking attention to detail, rebuilding a city that had been abandoned hundreds of years earlier. Under the Kassites, this revived Babylonian civilization continued for another four centuries.
The Hittite Empire
The Hittites were an Indo European people who invaded Anatolia c. 2000 BC, establishing a large nation with a centralized government. Massive fortresses and palaces were built of stone and brick. The king served as high priest and commander of the army, and ruled the provinces through tightly controlled vassals. There was a middle class of artisans and traders, and a lower class of rural and urban laborers. The Hittite legal code and writing was borrowed from Babylonia. Hittite art was influenced by the Babylonians, but the Hittite religion was their own. At the height of the Hittite Empire c.1334 BC, it encompassed 260,000 square miles, and Egypt was the only state more powerful.
Lacking natural defenses, the Assyrians of Northern Mesopotamia faced a continuous struggle for survival with the Babylonians and Hittites. By 1400 BC, this constant warfare turned the Assyrians into the most warlike people in the Middle East. The development of terror as a distinct form of warfare is attributed to the Assyrians, as well as invention of the sword. Assyria's military success was based on an extremely effective militia system. At times, this system would impair the Assyrian economy when farmers and craftsmen were absent on long campaigns.
Egypt recovered in the Middle Kingdom Period, comprised of Dynasties XI and XII. The Middle Kingdom civilization was more secular in nature that the Old Kingdom Period. Portrait statues of pharaohs have faces creased and lined with the burden of affairs of state, while the greatest building project of Dynasty XI was a network of irrigation canals for flood control still in use after 4,000 years.
During the Second Intermediate Period, 1786 BC to 1574 BC, Egypt declined once more, as Egypt broke into two competing halves. Thus, Dynasties XIII and XIV ruled concurrently, the 13th with its capital at It-tawi and the 14th with its capital at Xois. Around 1725 BC Semitic invaders overran the Delta region, and eventually captured much of Egypt. The Egyptians called the invaders Hyku Khoswet or "foreign rulers", and we know them as Hyksos. Two Hyksos dynasties ruled concurrently, the 15th and 16th, while a native Egyptian dynasty, the 17th, ruled from Thebes at the same time.
Around 1600 BC, the Hyksos were expelled by Kamose, the last ruler of Dynasty XVII, and by his brother Ahmose, the first ruler of Dynasty XVIII. Reunification of Egypt brought a golden age in the New Kingdom Period. The boundaries of Egypt were extended, trade flourished, and Egypt achieved the most opulent civilization the world had ever known. Egyptians enjoyed luxurious life styles. They lived the good life, and loved to party. On festive occasions, men and women wore wigs topped with cones of perfumed fat. Women used cosmetics such as eye shadow, rouge, hair dye, nail and toe polish, perfume, and even breath scent. While the Egyptians were enjoying themselves, the army was filled with foreign mercenaries.
Monumental construction during the New Kingdom Period followed a pattern similar to the Old Kingdom. Pharoahs once again built gigantic monuments with mortuary cults requiring thousands of temple workers and enormous operating budgets. Amenhotep II, for example, had 89,600 Asiatic slaves working in mortuary temples. The largest Egyptian temple ever built was a colonnaded hall in Thebes measuring 6,000 square yards, constructed by Ramses I & II of Dynasty XIX. Ramses II also built a temple at Abu Simbel south of Thebes, cut 200 feet deep into solid rock. So, unlike the Old Kingdom, there was no reduced monumentality at the peak of civilization, but there was a similar heavy drain on state resources.
Causes of Decline
Around 1200 BC a vast tide of nomads swept the entire civilized world. The Egyptians called them "Sea Peoples", presumably a loose confederation of various tribes. Other unrelated nomadic groups wreaked havoc with civilization at the same time. It is speculated that drought conditions drove these nomads in search of forage for their herds, but it should be understood that the civilized nations resisted smaller nomadic assaults for centuries prior to 1200 BC.
Other developments destroyed Babylonia, and weakened Assyria and the Hittites, prior to 1200 BC.
Around 1720 BC, Babylonia experienced some kind of natural catastrophic event, involving a shift in the Euphrates River. In consequence, several Babylonian cities were suddenly abandoned, including Isin, Larsa, Nippur, and Ur, and they remained unoccupied for centuries. In this weakened state, Babylonia was less able to compete with her powerful neighbors.
Around 1600 BC, Babylon was captured by the Hittites under Mursili I, who was assassinated by his brother-in-law upon returning from the Babylonian campaign. The Hittite Empire was wracked by a long period of political upheaval, following the coup d'etat. Meanwhile, a weakened Babylonia fell to the Kassites, Indo European nomads from Western Iran, mentioned earlier.
In the late 13th Century, the Assyrian army under Tukulti-Ninurta was preoccupied with Hurrians raiding their northern border, and the Kassite Babylonian ruler Kashtiliash took advantage of the situation by attacking Assyria from the south. This grave mistake led to the Assyrian conquest of Babylon. Tukulti-Ninurta declared himself King of Babylonia, and moved a huge statue of Marduk, chief diety of Babylon, to his capital at Assur. The Babylonians revolted, and Assyrian nobles, viewing the theft of Marduk as a sacrilege, assassinated Tukulti-Ninurta in 1208 BC.
Meanwhile, the Hittite Empire, after reaching its peak of power c.1334 BC, experienced numerous problems in the following century. These included poor harvests, reduced population from plague, revolts by vassals, and a succession of weak rulers in the last decades of the 13th Century.
To summarize conditions in the Middle East on the eve of the nomadic assault of 1200 BC, the Babylonian Empire was extinguished, while Assyria and the Hittites were severely weakened by a combination of war, coups d'etat, revolt, plague, poor harvests, and a succession of weak rulers.
Extent of Decline: 1200 to 700 BC (Wave Z1Y5X4)
The nomads overran the copper-mining regions, and bronze production declined. Trade in the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia collapsed.
Athens was the only Mycenean state to survive the nomadic assault. The other palace/fortress complexes were destroyed, and the population was greatly reduced. Throughout Greece, the archaeological record for subsequent centuries shows no significant treasure or large public buildings. Writing (used for palace administration rather than by the general population) disappeared, and artistic ability declined.
The Hittite Empire
The Hittite capital, Hattusas, was burnt to the ground c.1200 BC, the population was slaughtered or fled, and the empire extinguished. Hittite culture vanished in the heartland of the empire, while some satellite areas, Cilicia and Syria, retained their Hittite identity for a time.
Among the major powers, only Egypt and Assyria survived the nomadic assault. In Assyria's case, it is probably due to her development as a military state prior to 1200 BC. She was exhausted by the nomadic assault, and suffered a century of reduced trade and general decline, but retained much of her territory. Under Tiglath-Pileser I (1116 BC - 1093 BC) Assyria emerged as the leading power of the Middle East - aided no doubt by the power vacuum left with the fall of Babylon and the Hittites. Around 1050 BC, another wave of nomadic assaults brought continued decline, which was reversed by Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser II (883 BC to 824 BC).
Assyria reached the height of her power in the late 8th century BC, just as the western world was beginning to emerge from the long dark age. Apart from the science of warfare, Assyria's main intellectual pursuit at her peak was collecting Babylonian writings in a vast library at Ninevah. The greatest monumental construction of Assyria was a palace/fortress/temple complex at Khorsabad, built c.700 BC and covering a square mile. The Fall of Assyria was 612 BC.
Egypt had a succession of strong rulers preceding 1200 BC, culminating with Ramses III, and this is probably why she survived destruction by the nomads. Ramses III did a masterful job of defeating the Sea Peoples, but could not stop the inexorable decline that followed. The loss of Egypt's trading partners, coupled with financial pressures previously mentioned, exhausted Egypt's treasury. Egypt's extravagant lifestyle could no longer be afforded. Ramses's reign was marked by court intrigue, war, and strikes by poorly fed workers. Abroad, his Hittite allies were eliminated, his Asian territories were lost, and his ambassadors were insulted by other nations. At home, law and order deteriorated, and tomb robbers became an epidemic. With his assassination in 1162 BC, Egypt's glory was at an end.
A long decline ensued, from which Egypt never recovered. In 730 BC, Egypt was conquered by Ethiopia, and was subsequently occupied by a succession of other nations including the Assyrians and Persians.
Rome: 700 BC to 337 AD (Wave Z1Y5X5)
Extent of Advance
The Roman Empire at its height encompassed 1.6 million square miles, measuring over 3,000 miles east to west and over 2,000 miles north to south. The census of Emperor Claudius counted 6.9 million men, with an estimated population of 20 million counting families, 120 million counting slaves and provincials. This exceeded the population of Europe when Gibbon wrote Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the 1700s. Other aspects of Roman civilization remained unsurpassed until modern times, including charities and foundations, buildings and public works, the scale of business enterprises, and the sophistication of military and civil engineering.
Causes of Decline
The immediate cause of Rome's fall was nomadic invasion. Similar to previous civilizations, Rome had faced nomadic assaults successfully for centuries prior to her fall. Early on, the Cimbri, a Germanic tribe, abandoned Jutland and migrated south, annihilating two large Roman armies before their elimination by Gaius Marius in 103 BC. Julius Caesar stopped a similar migration of Helvetians in 58 BC. Germans annihilated three Roman legions in the Teutoberg Forest in 9 AD, causing Augustus, in his grief, to place the Empire thenceforth on a defensive footing. Marcus Aurelius fought barbarians on the Danube frontier for more than a decade, from 166 to 179 AD.
Widespread barbarian assault began in the middle of the third century AD, as various tribes took advantage of civil war within the Empire. Frankish raids occurred in Gaul and Spain from 236 to 258. Alemanni raids in Italy from 236 to 271 overran Milan and reached Ravenna. Gothic raiders on land and sea assaulted Moesia, Trace, Northern Asia Minor from 238 to 270. Walls of imperial cities had decayed for centuries, but due to this crisis, many were rebuilt or strengthened. Aurelian rebuilt the walls of Rome from 271 to 276, being compelled by circumstances to defend the heart of the Empire.
There were sporadic incursions in the fourth century, starting with Frankish raids in 313, and Gothic raids in 315. Picts and Scots attacked the Romans in England in 343, while Germans assaulted Gaul from 351 to 355. Quadi and Sarmatians raided across the Danube in 355. Because of these raids, Julian established his imperial headquarters in Paris, and consolidated Gaul from 357 to 359. Frontier forts were reconstructed and ravished imperial towns were rebuilt.
The final round of barbarian assault was caused by the appearance of the Huns in Europe in 376. The Huns invaded Goth territory, causing a mass exodus of a million Goths, fleeing to Roman territory. Rome accepted the refugees, but mistreated them, inflaming a spirit of revolt. In 378, either by chance or informal alliance among the various barbarians, the entire European frontier spontaneously erupted from the Atlantic to the Black Sea.
From this point on, the Empire's days were numbered. In 410, a Gothic army under Alarik sacked Rome and remained for six days of controlled looting. Soon afterward, England was abandoned by the Empire. Meanwhile, the Huns under Attila began attacking the Empire. The eastern half of the empire was invaded in 441 and 447, while the Western Empire was invaded in 451 and 452. In 455 a Vandal fleet occupied and sacked Rome for two weeks. From 461 to 467, a mixed Swabian/Visigoth named Ricimer held dictatorial power in Italy, ruling through a succession of puppet Emperors. On September 4, 476, a part-Hun barbarian named Odoacer deposed the last Emperor, Romulus Augustus, without assuming the title of Emperor himself. This date marks the end of the Roman state.
A number of underlying causes brought Rome to this inglorious end, mostly financial in nature. Rome's finances were strained by the barbarian threat, a growing bureaucracy and expanding social welfare costs, requiring increased taxes and currency debasement to fund the state. Bruce Barlett, in How Excessive Government Killed Rome, http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cjv14n2-7.html provides an excellent summary of financial causes. The following are excerpts subsequent to the reign of Nero.
"Most emperors continued the policies of debasement and increasingly heavy taxes, levied mainly on the wealthy. The war against wealth was not simply due to purely fiscal requirements, but was also a conscious policy of exterminating the Senatorial class, which had ruled Rome since ancient times. As the private wealth of the Empire was gradually confiscated or taxed away�economic growth slowed to a virtual standstill. Moreover, once the wealthy were no longer able to pay the state's bills, the burden fell inexorably on the lower classes, so that average people suffered as well from the deteriorating economic conditions.
"At this point, in the third century A.D., the money economy completely broke down. Yet the military demands remained high. With the collapse of the money economy, the normal system of taxation also broke down. This forced the state to directly appropriate whatever resources it needed. The result was a system in which individuals were forced to work at their given place of employment and remain in the same occupation, with little freedom to move or change jobs.
"By the end of the third century�the state could no longer obtain sufficient resources even through compulsion and was forced to rely ever more heavily on debasement of the currency to raise revenue. Prices skyrocketed. The cornerstone of Diocletian's policy was to turn the ad hoc policy of requisitions to obtain resources for the state into a regular system. Since money was worthless, the new system was based on collecting taxes in the form of actual goods and services. Careful calculations were made of precisely how much grain, cloth, oil, weapons, or other goods were necessary to sustain a single Roman soldier. On the other side of the coin, it was also necessary to calculate what the taxpayers were able to provide in terms of necessary goods and services. Assessments were made and resources collected, transported and stored for state use.
"Despite such efforts, land continued to be abandoned and trade, for the most part, ceased. Small landowners, crushed into bankruptcy by the heavy burden of taxation, threw themselves on the mercy of large landowners, signing on as tenants or even slaves. The latter phenomenon was so widespread and so injurious to the state's revenues, in fact, that in 368 AD Emperor Valens declared it illegal to renounce one's liberty.
"In the end, there was no money left to pay the army, build forts or ships, or protect the frontier. The barbarian invasions, which were the final blow to the Roman state in the fifth century, were simply the culmination of three centuries of deterioration of the fiscal capacity of of the state to defend itself. Indeed, many Romans welcomed the barbarians as saviors from the onerous tax burden."
Other causes can be added to these. Plague killed a large percentage of the Roman population near the end of the second century AD, forcing her to rely more heavily on allied and mercenary troops, drawn from populations with questionable loyalty to Rome.
Among the monuments of Rome, one of the greatest and most famous is the Coliseum, a stadium dedicated to bloody gladiatorial combat for the amusement of the masses. The Coliseum was built by Vespasian in the late 1st century AD, and is a testimony to the decadence and moral rot of the later Empire.
Finally, the vast size of the Empire made its management unwieldy. In the early fourth century AD, Diocletian addressed this problem by creating two co-equal emperors, titled Augustus, each running half the Empire. Each Augustus had an assistant emperor, titled Caesar, managing half of the half-Empire. The Roman Empire was thereby segmented into four pieces, and sometimes the four rulers would war with each other.
Extent of Decline: 337 to 1000 (Wave Z2)
Diocletian's segmentation of Empire proved advantageous in the end, because the Eastern Empire survived the fall of the Western Empire by a thousand years. The Eastern Empire kept Roman civilization and culture alive, and during its stronger periods, managed to retake parts of the Western Empire. By the time the Eastern Empire was destroyed in 1453, the Dark Ages had ended in Europe.
The region encompassed by the Western Empire was another matter, as chaos followed the collapse of central government. During the 500s, the city of Rome, once capital of Western Civilization, was an insignificant village within the perimeter of Aurelian's mighty walls. Rome's great Forum was converted to a cow pasture, and its monuments were largely destroyed or stripped of stone for building material. Barbarians controlled Europe, some of them relatively civilized, some of them not.
By our interpretation, the final Grand Super Cycle (GSC5) of the Roman period ran from 30 BC to 337 AD, with the following Super Cycles:
- SC1 represents the early Empire.
- SC2 represents the years of chaos following Nero's death.
- SC3 represents the latter Pax Romana.
- SC4 represents the decline following the Pax Romana, and
- SC5 represents the revival of Empire under Illyrian Emperors.
According to this interpretation, the declining period from 337 to 1000 AD (Wave Z2) encompasses the Fall of Empire from 337 to 476, and the Dark Ages from 476 to 1000. The very long duration and depth of this declining period is explained by the fact that it was the corrective wave for the entire 10,000-year advance, Wave Z1, which preceded it.
The Dark Ages was the period between the fall of Rome and the rise of Medieval Europe. This period is marked by a contraction of international trade, virtually no monumental construction, and a decline in art and education.
In England, once part of the Roman Empire, the production of luxury goods ceased with the fall of Rome, not for lack of talent, but for lack of demand. Trade was conducted over reduced distances, requiring each region to achieve greater self-sufficiency. In consequence, the number and variety of crafts and trades located in each town had to increase substantially. Wealth also decreased. In Medieval England, only 5% to 6% of the population had net worth over 40 pounds sterling (480 ounces silver) - little more than the retirement pay of a Roman legionnaire a thousand years earlier.
Part III will provide further commentary on these declines, along with commentary on modern civilization at the height of the present X Wave.
� COPYRIGHT 1999 - 2001 By JOSEPH M. MILLER, DAAN JOUBERT and MARION BUTLER