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.
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.
"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
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations xi
Series Editor’s Foreword xiii
The Collapse of Civilizations: 1177 BC 1
Act I. Of Arms and the Man: The Fifteenth Century BC 14
Act II. An (Aegean) Affair to Remember: The Fourteenth Century BC 43
Act III. Fighting for Gods and Country: The Thirteenth Century BC 73
Act IV. The End of an Era: The Twelfth Century BC 102
A "Perfect Storm" of Calamities? 139
The Aftermath 171
Dramatis Personae 177