1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Hardback Turning Points in Ancient History

By (author) Eric H. Cline

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 236mm x 28mm | 560g
  • Publication date: 23 April 2014
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691140898
  • ISBN 13: 9780691140896
  • Illustrations note: 10 halftones. 2 maps.
  • Sales rank: 13,405

Product description

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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Author information

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".

Review quote

Winner of the 2014 Award for the Best Popular Book, American Schools of Oriental Research "A new and exciting book fell into my lap the other day, adding an archaic flavor to the current stew of apprehension and awe about where the world is going, and what we might find when it gets there. The book, by Eric H. Cline, an archeologist and anthropologist, is called 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. It adds that remote date, previously inauspicious to all but scholars of the Late Bronze Age, to other, later ones--475 A.D., when Rome got sacked for good; 1348, the first year of the Black Plague; and that grim centennial favorite, 1914--as one more marker showing how a thriving civilization can gasp, fall over, and give up... The memorable thing about Cline's book is the strangely recognizable picture he paints of this very faraway time... It was as globalized and cosmopolitan a time as any on record, albeit within a much smaller cosmos. The degree of interpenetration and of cultural sharing is astonishing."--Adam Gopnik, New Yorker "Cline has created an excellent, concise survey of the major players of the time, the latest archaeological developments, and the major arguments, including his own theories, regarding the nature of the collapse that fundamentally altered the area around the Mediterranean and the Near East... This admirable introduction to the study of the era between the glorious past of Egypt (the Great Pyramid was already 1,500 years old) and the rise of Classical Greece (another 750 years away) will be appreciated by both generalists and classics buffs."--Evan M. Anderson, Library Journal "In his new book, archaeologist Eric H. Cline introduces us to a past world with eerie resonance for modern times... However stark a bellwether this represents for us, we can at least take comfort in knowing that should our society collapse, chances are good that something fascinating will emerge in its place."--Larry Getlen, New York Post "Offers students and the interested lay antiquarian a sense of the rich picture that is emerging from debates among the ruins... Given how the 21st century is shaping up, [1177 B.C.] may yet become a common reference point--and one of more than antiquarian relevance."--Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed "In this enjoyable new book, Eric H. Cline has set himself an ambitious task: Not only must he educate a popular audience about the wealth and power of the eastern Mediterranean civilizations of the Bronze Age, he must then make his readers care that, some time around the year 1200 b.c., these empires, kingdoms, and cities suffered a series of cataclysms from which they never recovered."--Susan Kristol, Weekly Standard "Fresh and engaging."--Andrew Robinson, Current World Archaeology "This story is not new, having been told by Robert Drews (The End of the Bronze Age, 1993) and Nancy Sandars (The Sea Peoples, 1985). Cline's contribution is to extend these seminal works by including and analyzing all the relevant material brought to light in the last two decades and to tell an engaging tale. His extensive presentation of source materials in the footnotes and bibliography of 1177 BC makes the book extremely valuable for scholars, yet he explains the complexities of his subject in language easily understandable by general readers."--Richard A. Gabriel, Military History Quarterly "Cline's Bronze Age shares characteristics with our own age, and if we accept this, we can only conclude that Cline has written one of this year's most interesting books."--Jona Lendering, NRC Handelsblad "Intriguing ... lively, engaging."--Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online "Cline's work reveals eerie parallels between the geopolitics of the first years of 12th century BC and today's 21st century. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed is history, but reads like a good mystery novel. Cline draws readers into his tale, revealing surprises throughout. It is all the more fascinating for being true, and for its relevance to today's world."--Mark Lardas, Daily News (Galveston, TX) "Scholarly divergences of judgment aside, Cline's book remains essential."--Thomas F. Bertonneau, Brussels Journal "1177 B.C.: the Year Civilization Collapsed is a wonderful example of scholarship written for the non-expert. Cline clearly pulls together the engaging story of the interactions among the major empires of the Late Bronze Age and puts forth a reasonable theory explaining why they seem to have evaporated as quickly as moisture on a hot afternoon."--Fred Reiss, San Diego Jewish World "Eric H. Cline has written a work of great scholarship, but has written in a manner so that the non-expert ... can not only understand, but also appreciate it... [H]e has brought together the latest thinking on the matter. Perhaps more importantly he has drawn comparisons with the modern world. Maybe we might look at those ancient civilizations from a new perspective."--Don Vincent, Open History "I don't know when I've appreciated a book as much as 1177 B.C. If you enjoy learning, you will enjoy this book! Highly recommended."--Thomas A. Timmes, UNRV History "This book is the first comprehensive account of this crisis since the publication 36 years ago of N.K. Sandar's The Sea Peoples: Warriors of the Ancient Mediterranean... One of the highlights of the book is Cline's full and lucid discussion of the new archaeological evidence that has accumulated since Sandar's 1985 publication, including the excavation of shipwrecks and the discovery of texts suggesting a Hittite political context for the Trojan War. Particularly valuable is the author's convincing argument that only a multifactor analysis can account for the end of the Bronze Age."--Choice "Highly recommended, especially for public and college library collections."--James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review "This is a comprehensive study, based on the latest academic research, with detailed notes and a comprehensive bibliography (and a useful dramatis personae which comes in handy if you tend to confuse Ammurapi with Assuruballit or Shattiwaza with Shuttarna), but written as a gripping mystery story with clues to follow and evidence to analyse--which should appeal to readers of all levels."--SG, Ancient Egypt

Flap copy

"This enthralling book describes one of the most dramatic and mysterious processes in the history of mankind--the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations. Cline walks us through events that transpired three millennia ago, but as we follow him on this intriguing sojourn, lurking in the back of our minds are tantalizing, perpetual questions: How can prosperous cultures disappear? Can this happen again; to us?"--Israel Finkelstein, coauthor of "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" "Impressively marshaling the most recent archaeological and historical evidence, Eric Cline sets the record straight: there was a 'perfect storm' of migrations, rebellions, and climate change that resulted in the collapse of states that were already unstable in the Late Bronze Age. There followed an 'age of opportunity' for new kinds of political systems and ideologies that remade the world of the eastern Mediterranean in the first millennium B.C. Onward and upward with collapse!"--Norman Yoffee, University of Michigan "Cline has written a wonderfully researched and well-crafted overview of one of the most fascinating, complex, and debated periods in the history of the ancient world. Tying together an impressively broad range of disparate data, he weaves together a very convincing re-creation of the background, mechanisms, and results of the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond."--Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University ""1177 B.C." tells the story of one of history's greatest mysteries. Unknown invaders shattered the splendid civilizations of the Bronze Age Mediterranean in a tidal wave of fire and slaughter, before Egypt's pharaoh turned them back in a fierce battle on the banks of the Nile. We do not know who these attackers were, and perhaps we never will; but no archaeologist is better equipped to guide us through this dramatic story than Eric Cline. "1177 B.C." is the finest account to date of one of the turning points in history."--Ian Morris, author of "Why the West Rules--for Now" "This book is a very valuable and very timely addition to the scholarship on the end of the Late Bronze Age. Cline provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and up-to-date treatment of one of the most dramatic and enigmatic periods in the history of the ancient world."--Trevor Bryce, author of "The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History" "This is an excellent, thought-provoking book that brings to life an era that is not well known to most readers."--Amanda H. Podany, author of "Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East"

Table of contents

List of Illustrations xi Series Editor's Foreword xiii Preface xv Acknowledgments xix PROLOGUE The Collapse of Civilizations: 1177 BC 1 CHAPTER ONE Act I. Of Arms and the Man: The Fifteenth Century BC 14 CHAPTER TWO Act II. An (Aegean) Affair to Remember: The Fourteenth Century BC 43 CHAPTER THREE Act III. Fighting for Gods and Country: The Thirteenth Century BC 73 CHAPTER FOUR Act IV. The End of an Era: The Twelfth Century BC 102 CHAPTER FIVE A "Perfect Storm" of Calamities? 139 EPILOGUE The Aftermath 171 Dramatis Personae 177 Notes 181 Bibliography 201 Index 229