The essence of historical research is the search for the cause of a major event. The same applies to prehistoric research, except that the documents cited in evidence lack written records and may require greater speculation.
One of the major events in the history of Greece was the fall of the Mycenaean civilization, which occurred about 1200-1100 BC and ushered in the Greek Dark Ages, when populations in the former Mycenaean lands were small and political organization dispersed. Although falling, strictly, within the historic period, thanks to the recent decipherment of Mycenaean written documents, the available records merely illustrate some of the business transactions of several flourishing kingdoms they give no clues to the cause for the abrupt demise of the culture.
It is on this subject, with its paucity of direct evidence, that Professor Rhys Carpenter introduces some speculations drawn from natural science-the notion that climatic change in southern Greece caused repeated failure of crops and the consequent breakdown of the Mycenaean economy.