For every end, there is a beginning. This was certainly true of the ancient Near East following the Late Bronze Age collapse. We have firm evidence that it took decades, and even centuries in some areas, for the people in these regions to rebuild and reclaim their societies and to forge new lives that would bring them back up out of the darkness into which they had been plunged.

When the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean areas emerged from the catastrophe, beginning around 1000 B.C., it was a new age. It was time for a new set of powers and a fresh start with new civilizations, including the Neo-Hittites in Anatolia and Syria; the Israelites, Philistines, and Phoenicians in the former lands of Canaan; and the Greeks in mainland Greece and the Aegean islands. Out of the ashes came regular use of the alphabet and other inventions, not to mention a dramatic increase in the use of iron, which gave its name to the new era—the Iron Age.

It is a cycle that the world has seen time and time again: the rise and fall of empires, followed by the rise of new empires, which eventually fall and are replaced in turn by even newer empires, in a repeated cadence of birth, growth and evolution, decay or destruction, and ultimately renewal in a new form.