1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed: The Year Civilization Collapsed

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Princeton University Press, Mar 23, 2014 - History - 264 pages
2 Reviews

In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the “Sea Peoples” invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economy and cultures of the late second millennium B.C., which had stretched from Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, suddenly ceased to exist, along with writing systems, technology, and monumental architecture. But the Sea Peoples alone could not have caused such widespread breakdown. How did it happen?

In this major new account of the causes of this “First Dark Ages,” Eric Cline tells the gripping story of how the end was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.

A compelling combination of narrative and the latest scholarship, 1177 B.C. sheds new light on the complex ties that gave rise to, and ultimately destroyed, the flourishing civilizations of the Late Bronze Age—and that set the stage for the emergence of classical Greece.

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To Eric and readers of 1177BC
This is a great piece of historical research and written in the narrative style of Hayden White. It summarizes the main reasons for the collapse of the Bronze Age which
lead to the Greek Dark Ages. I was particularly interested in the devastation which The Sea People wrought on civilization and have delved a lot further into their origins.
Thanks for the great read Eric. I have seen most of your videos and your comments on the Trojan War. 1177 was the inspiration for my historical novel 'Xiphos' which I have just self published and available on Amazon. I have used a different historiography on the same topic and hopefully made it an entertaining read. Thanks again for leadership on the topic.
Alex Arthur www.alexarthur.net
 

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The book does an amazing job of setting the scene for the collapse of the Bronze age in 1177, and this is probably its greatest strength. Cline gives a "greatest hits" overview of the archaeology and written documents of the way things were at this critical time, addressing all the high notes of history, scholarship, and an amazing amount of compact detail on both the evidence, and the controversies of nearly every piece. His next trick is to discuss the "why" of the whole thing - why did everything collapse, what was the deciding factor? And unfortunately, he simply can't answer this question, citing instead the premises of "complexity theory" as a description of how things could go wrong so quickly without needing a specific single incident. Despite discussing the Sea Peoples in the frontpiece and throughout, Cline is surprisingly pessimistic about their involvement, most notably since there's just little evidence to support a coherent "people" being responsible. I give him full credit and recognition for being willing to leave the question open rather than venturing into pseudoexplanations and speculation despite an almost complete lack of firm evidence upon which to rest any of them. 

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About the author (2014)

Eric H. Cline is professor of classics and anthropology and director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University. An active archaeologist, he has excavated and surveyed in Greece, Crete, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan. His many books include From Eden to Exile: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Bible and The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction.

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