1177 B.C. : the year civilization collapsed

by Eric H. Cline

Paper Book, 2014



Call number

GN778.25 .C55 2014


Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2014.


"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"--… (more)

Media reviews

This book by Eric Cline is the first in the series Turning Points in Ancient History edited by Barry Strauss. In the words of Strauss, this series “looks at a crucial event or key moment in the ancient world”, and the series seems targeted—judging from this first book—at a broad audience of
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both students and experts in the field. Cline’s book takes as its crucial event the battle between Ramses III of Egypt and the so-called Sea Peoples in 1177 B.C., a point in history that marked the end of the Late Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cline is careful not to suggest that this battle alone was responsible for the wave of destructions dated to the beginning of the twelfth-century; rather, he treats this battle as a point of departure for addressing a variety of calamities—both natural and anthropogenic—that affected much of the Eastern Mediterranean and brought an end to the Late Bronze Age.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member msbaba
“1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed,” by Eric H. Cline, is a short and engaging book of archeological evidence and theory that kept me so glued to the pages that I finished it in one day. Unfortunately, I found the book as disappointing as it was fascinating. It wasn’t what I thought
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it would be. Nevertheless, I was pleased with what it did contain and that’s why it is getting four stars. Let me explain.

This book does an excellent job of setting forth the raw summarized archeological evidence supporting the concept that virtually all Late Bronze Age civilizations in the Aegean, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Near East collapsed beginning in 1197 BC (with the Sea Peoples’ successful invasion of Egypt) and continuing like a wave of disintegration across the basin over the many decades. What followed was a mini-dark ages lasting many centuries before civilization once again rebounded in the Iron Age. Cline’s book summarizes the primary source evidence demonstrating how these Late Bronze Age civilizations were dependent on a highly complex system of regional trade in luxury items, foodstuffs, essential raw materials, ideas, and specialized high-technology experts. He also presents evidence showing how this system broke down and collapsed as the result of a “a concatenation of events, both human and natural—including climate change and drought, seismic disasters known as earthquake storms, internal rebellions, and ‘systems collapse’ that brought this age to an end.”

As to an overall theory for this process, the author believes that the answer can be found by applying “complexity theory” to the evidence. I whole-heartedly agree! But this is exactly the point at which the author completely failed me. In my estimation, Cline did a very poor job of showing the evidence in support of that idea. I certainly don’t pretend to be an expert in the science of complex adaptive systems, but it soon became clear to me that I may have actually read more on this new science than he has. The author did a very fuzzy job of describing how the evidence might support the application of complexity theory to this particular situation. In particular, the author could have presented evidence from related sciences in support of this idea. I wanted to see evidence from archaeobotany (the study of plant remains), zooarchaeology (the study of faunal remains), archaeopedology (the study of soil and uses of the soil), and paleoclimatology (the study of ancient climates). In my estimation, we won’t fully understand these events until their evidence is given equal weight.

Two years ago, I did a college-level independent study and report on the collapse of the Bronze Age Mycenaean civilization. So, I am well-acquainted with the evidence pointing toward complexity theory as the root cause. At that time, I read evidence concerning deforestation, erosion, drought, soil fertility depletion, and other environmental causes that may have been significant causal factors behind the rebellions and the emergence of the “Sea Peoples.” I don’t see this evidence in Cline’s book…just brief mention that some of this may be involved.

Perhaps this quote might help. It comes from one of the major scholars studying and applying complexity theory to a wide number of issues. The scholar is Yaneer Bar-Yam. He is head of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He says: "A networked society behaves like a multicellular organism; random damage is like lopping a chunk off a sheep. Whether or not the sheep survives depends on which chunk is lost. And while we are pretty sure which chunks a sheep needs, it isn't clear—and may not even be predictable —which chunks of our densely networked civilization are critical, until it's too late. When we do the analysis, almost any part is critical if you lose enough of it. Now that we can ask questions of such systems in more sophisticated ways, we are discovering that they can be very vulnerable.”

The actual text of Cline’s book is only 177 pages in length, so it is a fairly small book that can be read in a brief amount of time. The rest of the book consists of detailed notes, a glossary of important ancient people in the book, and a bibliography. I enjoyed it. I learned a great deal. I would definitely recommend it together with the caveats I’ve noted above.
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LibraryThing member Garp83
I had looked forward to reading 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline, as it came to me from a friend with whom I share a fascination of Bronze Age history and the mystery of its abrupt collapse somewhat coterminous with the era of the legendary Trojan War. This a fuzzy
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historical period for most people, even many historians, but not for those who, like myself, are enraptured with the roots of ancient Greek civilization. Adding to the book’s luster is its 2014 publication launching a new series – Turning Points in Ancient History – edited by noted historian Barry Strauss.
In the latter part of the nineteenth century it was Heinrich Schliemann who – after famously discovering the ruins of ancient Troy on the northwest coast of present day Turkey – later uncovered the forgotten Mycenaean civilization of Bronze Age Greece. Once among the great powers of the mid-to-late second millennium BCE engaged in international trade and swaggering with the likes of Egyptians, Hittites, Mitanni and Kassite Babylonians, the Mycenaean’s seem to have gone down in flames with the abrupt breakdown of Bronze Age civilization in the Mediterranean and Near East circa the twelfth century BCE, spawning a dark age lasting several hundred years where the Greeks seem to have actually lost literacy.
The Bronze Age collapse has received much scholarly attention but has never found satisfactory explanation. Part of the challenge in unravelling the mystery is that not all states were affected equally: the Hittites almost entirely disappeared from history; Egypt lost its empire but otherwise endured; some states saw decline and rebirth, others extinction. Various theories have been advanced over the years – including climate change, earthquakes, plague and more – but no one explanation seems to fit all circumstances and all geographies. Perhaps the most famous focuses upon the mysterious “Sea Peoples,” unknown invaders described in various sources who brought sudden fierce attacks to the region and undermined multiple states. While assaults by the “Sea Peoples” seem to have been an actual historical phenomenon, it is not clear whether their appearance represented a cause or effect of widespread destabilization that sparked a mass movement of populations. It is now commonly accepted, for instance, that the Biblical Philistines had their origins in Mycenaean Greeks who settled in Canaan. Upon arrival, they were no doubt “Sea Peoples,” as well.
That Cline, an archaeologist and eminent historian at George Washington University, seeks to take on such a fascinating time-honored mystery from an academic perspective only adds to the appeal of this volume. Unfortunately, the reader will be annoyed almost at once to discover that the book’s sensationalized title is wildly misleading: this work is a survey of life and trade and war and interdependence in the “globalized” world of the Bronze Age Mediterranean and Near East -- not its fall, as implied. In a book comprised of 176 pages (not including notes, bibliography, etc.), Cline does not even address generalized collapse until the final chapter that begins on page 139. It turns out that even the year 1177 enshrined in his title is rather arbitrary, since there was no single year of systematic multi-state cataclysm, as Cline explains in the book’s final pages that “. . . the eighth year of the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses III – 1177 BC, to be specific … stands out and is representative of the entire collapse.” Even more disappointing is that the final chapter, entitled “A ‘Perfect Storm’ of Calamities?” is little more than a reasoned discussion of all of the various theories of what might have brought on a multi-regional catastrophe. Cline suggests that a concatenation of nearly simultaneous calamities might have pushed the entire civilizational structure to a kind of unrecoverable tipping point. While that may indeed have been the case, in my overall frustration I could not help but find myself reminded of Robert Mayer’s novel I, JFK, which concludes by whimsically trumping all conspiracy theories to reveal who was really behind Kennedy’s assassination, which turned out to be absolutely everyone: Cuba, Russia, the Mafia, the CIA and the FBI!
Cline should be credited with assembling the latest scholarship about Bronze Age civilization into a single volume with supporting citations to serve as an excellent source to a reader seeking to steep him or herself in what we know – as well as what we have yet to learn – about this fascinating period of ancient history. There is a wealth of data supplemented by solid maps, tables and a biographical list of key figures. On the other hand, while Cline places a great deal of his emphasis on the interdependence of the states and cultures of that era, he manages to do a rather poor job of weaving this into a coherent narrative, which instead tends to jump around from one place or theme or notion to another. Possibly a better editor was called for; Cline, after all, does not strike me as a bad writer, just a highly disorganized one. Perhaps he was put off course by being assigned to write to the book’s title, rather than what he had really hoped to communicate. If you want to learn more about the Bronze Age and can overlook a somewhat uneven narrative, then read the Cline book, but if you are seeking groundbreaking revelations of what may have led to its collapse, be sure to look elsewhere.
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LibraryThing member deusvitae
An overview of the Late Bronze Age (LBA) and an extended analysis of the reasons for its collapse.

The author uses 1177 BCE as his fixed point, the year in which the Sea Peoples invaded Egypt for a second time and were defeated by Ramses III. The author readily admits that the process of
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civilizational collapse started earlier and would continue on for another century afterwards. The world of 1000 BCE looked very little like the world of 1200 BCE.

The author provides a holistic view of the LBA, describing over a few chapters the development of a densely connected network of civilizations from Mycenae to Babylon, Aswan to Hattusa, featuring the Minoans, Mycenaeans, Hittites, Mitanni, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, and Egyptians. He describes the wealth the trading connections fostered, what can be known about the diplomatic connections among the states, and some aspects of the historical details for each civilization. He then describes what can be known about the collapse of each.

The author then assesses all of the various explanations given for the collapse of the LBA: earthquakes, the Sea Peoples, climate change, famine, internal revolt, and so on. He does well to show that perhaps one or two of these factors might have been overcome, but the presence of many of them were enough to bring everything down. He tends to favor a "systems collapse" perspective.

I personally wonder if two other factors are given a bit of short shrift, and undeservedly so, based on the evidence. The first involves the precarious effect of weak monarchs/centralized authority at a bad time for weak monarchs and centralized authority: consider the swift collapse of Iron Age Neo-Assyria after Ashurbanipal or Neo-Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar; if Iron Age civilizations are not a good enough parallel, the tablets said the King of Ugarit was young and "didn't know anything," it seems that the last two kings of Hatti were weak, and what would have happened to Egypt if it hadn't been Ramses III on the throne in 1177? Perhaps many of the Mycenaeans just toppled the ineffective wanax and decentralized for years, especially in Mycenae and Tiryns. Many subject nations might be out for blood, ready to go when the centralized authority was not at its height: and thus would go down many cities if not empires.

The lack of discussion of the second factor I find much more inexplicable, save that the author has put way too much stock in his own 1177 BCE number, and that would be using the collapse of Egyptian centralized authority around 1075 and the "Year of the Hyenas" as a paradigm. After a series of years of worsening crop yields, the desert ended up meeting the Nile in Upper Egypt; a series of pharaohs growing ever weaker maintain residency in Tanis, leaving Thebes dangerously prone to all sorts of depredations. Desert tribes would make incursions. When the bottom fell out and the famine hit hard, centralized authority was lost. Whatever tombs hadn't been robbed yet were certainly plundered; priests were removing precious metals from temple doors, and ultimately the shrines of the gods themselves. There's no recovery from that kind of spoilage and desperation; all the pretenses and the veneer is gone. Sure, Egypt would limp along for the better part of a millennium, humiliated time and again, but at least we have documentation throughout the entire process to speak intelligently about it. Climate change plus an ever weakening centralized authority was just waiting for a catalyst, and for Egypt it was a truly disastrous year of drought.

The rest of the LBA civilizations aren't Egypt, but it's not hard to imagine similar situations across the world at the time: weakening central authority plus one other crisis factor just wait for a catalyst, which might be an enemy invasion, an earthquake, a drought, or something else; likewise, it might be an earthquake plus a drought that weakens the state, which is then taken out by an enemy invasion, or so on and so forth.

Without more documentation it's all a bit of idle speculation. This is a good resource; I only wish that the author had perhaps used more parallel evidence in the consideration of factors of collapse.
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LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
Across the records of the ancient middle east, there is a massive slash. In a period of a century, all the major urban centres are abandoned, or Burnt. Only the cities in the Nile Valley survived. Prof. Cline has assembled a synthesis of this event, and advances some possible explanations. To his
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mind there is no "Smoking gun", for the period. While we would prefer to have something simple, there did not appear any simple explanation at least by 2018 when the afterword was added. As a work in progress report this is a very useful effort.
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LibraryThing member Othemts
The Late Bronze Age civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean met with a catastrophic collapse in the 12th century B.C.E. Historians commonly attribute this to an invasion of people called the "Sea People" overwhelming Egypt's military in 1177 B.C.E. In Cline's evaluation of the evidence, the Sea
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People may have actually been refugees of war, natural disasters, and/or a climate crisis. Evidence exists for a cluster of earthquakes, droughts, and internal rebellions at the time before the arrival of the Sea People. The combination of the multiple catastrophes could have lead to the collapse.

The book is sprawling in both time in place as Cline sums up several centuries of history leading up to the collapse of several civilizations including the Greeks, Myceneans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Cypriots, Canaanites, and Egyptians. Along the way Cline explores the historic origins of the famed stories of Exodus and the Trojan War. Cline is good at explaining what we can learn from written records and archaeological finds, and how both of these have to be interpreted. He's also good at noting that there typically isn't enough evidence to know what happened precisely and how historians develop theories based on the facts we know.

Other interesting facts I learned from this book:

  • Hatshepsut, who ruled as Pharaoh upon the death of her husband, wore a Pharaonic false beard and men's clothing and was addressed as "His Majesty."

  • Kings of different nations who were not related used kinship terms like "father" and "son" when addressing one another, creating an artificial family relationship.

  • a new type of glue was invented for archaeologists recovering copper ingots from the Uluburun shipwreck to allow them to bring the artifacts up in one piece.

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LibraryThing member jcbrunner
Unfortunately, the title of the book "1177 B.C.: the year civilization collapsed" is pure hype and the book ends more with a whimper of "whatever" than a bang. The end of the Late Bronze Age had multiple causes and the limited and complex source material make it difficult to develop a coherent and
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stringent story.

The author mostly evades the task by instead telling the story of Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Mesopotamia from the 15th century to the fatal 12th century BC. This is a fine approach if it had resulted in a the crescendo promised by the title. Instead, the vaunted Sea Peoples are both warrior invaders and peaceful immigrants - depending more on the world view and framing of the archaeologist or historian than the source material at hand. Not an awful book but also not really recommended.
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LibraryThing member annbury
This is a useful and interesting book, if you are looking for a survey of what recent archaeological findings tell us about the state of the Mediterranean world in the second half of the second millennium B.C.E. As an explanation of why so many cultures fell into crisis around the same time,
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however, I found it less satisfactory. Very little in history, of course, is simple, and to look for a single cause for this series of events is to oversimplify. Several factors were involved, which the author discusses. It seems to me, however, that he doesn't really attempt to rank order these causes, turning instead to the "perfect storm" metaphor. Also, I wonder if his globalization comparison is really valid, given the small share of consumption that would have been accounted for by foreign trade in what was after all a primitive agricultural economy. Climate change, his discussion hints, might have been at least a very major cause. I should like to have seen that addressed in more detail.
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LibraryThing member Stbalbach
Review of 2021 Revised and Expanded Edition which is about 20% longer. Years ago I read Robert Drews book on this topic and he did a good job explaining the many theories and counter-theories (better than Cline on the historiography). Drews concluded it was caused by changes in warfare, chariot
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fighting came to end due to foot armies armed with iron weapons and armor ie. the transition from bronze to iron. Cline says this theory has critics though it has a logical beauty. Cline rather takes a generalist approach saying it was multi-causal and cites complexity theory and that we don't have enough information to conclude anything for certain or a singular reason. This is likely true. Complex societies fail in complex ways.

I found the book challenging, the first 70% is background as to what was happening for a couple generations proceeding the collapse. It really goes into the weeds of late Bronze Age international relations (Cline's area of specialty). I sort of took it as a oblique lesson. The final bits are pretty good as he starts talking about collapse, but felt the whole thing could have been easily done in a 50-page essay but was padded with extraneous stuff.
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LibraryThing member EmreSevinc
A fascinating glimpse at one of the most important periods of ancient civilizations! Not only have I found this book to be very engaging, but I also liked its refreshing and different approach to complex topics in history and archeology. Being a layperson in Late Bronze Age, I have particularly
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liked authors exposition of famous, as well as not so famous characters from more than 3000 years ago. I felt the pharaohs, Hittite kings, ancient rulers of Cypriot, merchants, and ambassadors come alive and talk to me through those pages.

Thanks to the this masterfully written book, I now have a much better understanding of this critical period in history, but this is only one of the reasons I liked and can easily recommend this book to others. It also introduced me to a framework that will help me to discover this period in more detail, and also analyze the current affairs taking place in the "same" geographical regions, making comparisons and drawing conclusions.

As a side note, my perception of the city of Troy changed and enhanced drastically, together with the historical context, especially in Anatolia. And that is only one of the points among many that will direct my curiosity.

The final parts of the book established the links among history, geography, archeology and complexity theory, and this is another plus for me because it goes beyond stating interesting bits and pieces; it tries to synthesize a better approach, a better understanding of what might have happened, and how such an interconnected, "globalized" set of civilizations might have collapsed 3000 years ago.
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LibraryThing member mreed61
This was a little difficult and dry at the beginning. Once I got about 1/3 of the way there, though, I started really getting into the material. It ended up being pretty darned good.
LibraryThing member hailelib
This book, published in 2014, with the latest information available gives the reader an overview of the collapse of all the great Bronze Age civilizations from Crete to Babylonia. Cline takes as his definitive moment that of the battle of Ramses III and "The Sea Peoples" in the eighth year of his
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reign now dated to 1177 BC. In order to see why these civilizations all collapsed within a few decades of one another we are taken back to the fifteenth century BC and then brought forward century by century. In the final chapter Cline discusses several theories that have been brought forward. These various cultures were so interconnected that big changes in one part of their world affected everyone else as each culture had diplomatic and trade ties to all of the others. The period from around 1250 to 1150 saw earthquakes, droughts, major famines, and other chaotic events that weakened the various "countries" and caused turmoil in the international trade that had become essential to all of them. Then a time that has been called a Dark Age by some ensued and the Iron Age began with new peoples, even new religions, and new ways of governing over much of the region.

1177 B.C. was relatively short and a fairly easy read. It was also full of interesting facts and explanations of various peoples I was only marginally familiar with. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member kleos_aphthiton
A nice synthesis of what we know about the Bronze Age Mediterranean, which is less than we would like and probably always will be. There's nothing incredibly groundbreaking, but it's great to see new discoveries from recent and ongoing digs being incorporated into the general understanding of a
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very complex period, upsetting some old assumptions while possibly reinforcing others.
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LibraryThing member Cl56
This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in ancient history!

Very interesting book. I really like how it gives you a more global view of history. Most of the time when you read about history you read something about a certain subject like for example the Romans, ancient temples,
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mythology and so on. This book on the other hand gives you a nice idea about how people lived, about trade, diplomacy, the more daily things of life. After reading this book I suddenly had a much different view about the past. This time it's not about wars and Gods but about people living, empires struggling to survive, tradesmen taking over the power of kings, you suddenly realize that society hasn't changed one bit.
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LibraryThing member jcbrunner
Unfortunately, the title of the book "1177 B.C.: the year civilization collapsed" is pure hype and the book ends more with a whimper of "whatever" than a bang. The end of the Late Bronze Age had multiple causes and the limited and complex source material make it difficult to develop a coherent and
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stringent story.

The author mostly evades the task by instead telling the story of Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Mesopotamia from the 15th century to the fatal 12th century BC. This is a fine approach if it had resulted in a the crescendo promised by the title. Instead, the vaunted Sea Peoples are both warrior invaders and peaceful immigrants - depending more on the world view and framing of the archaeologist or historian than the source material at hand. Not an awful book but also not really recommended.
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LibraryThing member zenitsky
The Late Bronze Age in the Mediterranean was an interesting period of history. According to the author, the Egyptians, Hittites, Mitanni and Kassite Babylonians had developed a flourishing trade network which suddenly collapsed at the beginning of the 12th Century B.C spawning a dark age lasting
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several hundred years. Professor Cline attempts to pick up the archaeological and historical pieces in the attempt to figure out why these empires suddenly collapsed around the same time. The problem is the evidence is sparse amid the numerous theories to make sense of the cause or causes of these calamities: Sea People invasions, trade collapse, climate change, earthquakes, and drought. Only during the last chapter does he makes case that these interdependent empires experienced a perfect storm of calamities that brought about a total system collapse,
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LibraryThing member gayla.bassham
Quite repetitive and a bit dry. I was hoping for a stronger narrative. I did find the underlying mystery of the Sea People intriguing, though.

Awarding one bonus star because I thought the author's obvious enthusiasm for his subject was rather endearing.
LibraryThing member stillatim
Not at all what the cover and press suggests, Cline has written a short history of the bronze age, with a focus on the end of it. His argument is that a lot of different factors contributed to the end of bronze age civilizations. Unfortunately, that kind of responsible argument won't get much of a
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hearing in the wider marketplace, so instead this is billed as a book about the END OF CIVILIZATION and how many lessons we can get from the 12th century BC.

There are no lessons, and civilization obviously didn't end. This book, however, is pretty good if you want to learn a bit more about the Egyptians, Hittites, Babylonians, Mycenaeans and Minoans. Good enough for me.
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LibraryThing member Opinionated
An interesting discussion of the possible causes of the decline and disappearance of Late Bronze Age civilisations in the Aegean and Near East, a phenomenon long blamed on the mysterious "Sea Peoples" who invaded Anatolia and Egypt from around 1200 BC. Cline puts forward a convincing case that it
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was a lot more complicated than this; that an interdependent set of globalised economies fell like dominos due to a combination of factors such as earthquake, drought, war, civil unrest and migration. In some centres the impact of each of these factors was greater than in others, but the essential interconnectedness of the societies led to the eventual decline of all

Of course we don't really know - but Cline presents the current state of the evidence, and there are very interesting departures to examine topics such as underwater archaelogy, the Trojan War (which probably preceeded this period), the exodus of the Isrealites from Egypt (for which there seems to be no evidence), Tutankhamen and his wife's search for a second husband among the Hittites, etc.

For a general reader like me, I would describe this as a valuable summary - let down by two things. Firstly, there are a couple of appalling typos which a decent proofread should have picked up. Even I know that the tomb of Tutankhamen was discovered in 1922 not 1992! Secondly, the pages aren't cut, making it a major effort to turn from one to the other. Disappointing
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LibraryThing member quondame
This provides a review of thinking and the archeological finds the thinking is based on about the end of the large empires shortly before the end of the bronze age. The date 1177BC is when the Egyptians report having defeated the Sea People. Archeology hasn't yet told us who the Sea People were or
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how much actual damage they did. Earthquakes, famines and wars all between 1250 BC and 1130 BC make it clear that the Sea People weren't the areas only problems. Plagues are even mentioned for their absence, which bugs me, because often when new people show up it's partly because the residents, hence defenders, are sparse.
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LibraryThing member ElleGato
Overall this was a good general survey of the Mediterranean world at the end of the Bronze Age. I enjoyed the emphasis on how a sort of proto-globalization existed during this era as I think culturally we don't appreciate how ancient societies were incredibly interconnected with one another. This
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topic is an immense one and I appreciate the author attempting to streamline it for general readers who may not have any historical background; I think there's a lot of value in popular histories like this.

I do feel, however, the writing was somewhat broad and vague without much detail in certain sections that would've benefited. But otherwise this is a good addition to the popular history of the ancient world
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LibraryThing member dhmontgomery
An interesting quick summary of the interconnected world of the Late Bronze Age. But its treatment of the actual 1177 B.C. collapse described in the title was surprisingly brief, and relied for impact on readers forming their own analogies to modern day findings of climate change. I understand the
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archaeological record is brief and fragmentary, particularly as the written civilizations of the time collapsed, but I was left wanting another 50 to 100 pages — treating possible explanations for the collapse in chapter-length format rather than sections within chapters.
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LibraryThing member Shrike58
On the whole I rather liked this work, however, I do have to agree with those who think that less was delivered than the title seems to suggest, as Cline spends more time on dismantling past arguments for the collapse of Bronze Age culture in the Mediterranean than he does in terms of providing an
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explanation. In as much as Cline offers an analysis it is to suggest that it was a series of unfortunate events that kicked out the supports of a system that was too interdependent and complicated for its own good, leading to failure.

Two thoughts come to my mind. One, while this system was involved it probably was not very redundant, being more in the nature of a dozen or so single points of failure. Two, the shadowy war between the Hittites and the Mycenaean Greeks over predominance in western Anatolia of this period, which provoked the Hittite emperor to impose a trade embargo, may had even more of a systemic impact if this much-touted system was already in a rather ramshackle state. After natural disaster, drought, famine, and the like, maybe it only took bad political decisions by the major players to drive the machine into the ditch. This is particularly if the shadowy "Sea Peoples," who seem to have had a predominant base of folks from the Aegean islands, really were left out in the cold by this war, and decided to play their own hand. But this is just my stab at offering a hypothesis on the basis of what Cline thinks that we can reasonably say.
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LibraryThing member heggiep
For roughly the first half of the book, Cline explores the world of the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Near East in the three hundred years leading up to the Collapse. I found this 'setting the scene' more interesting than his exploration of the possible causes of the rapid decline of the Late
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Bronze Age. But the collapse, and its lessons for our own age, were interesting as well. And I enjoyed his witty asides referencing modern culture.
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LibraryThing member ffortsa
I have been listening to this book FOREVER, waiting for a big payoff, but it never happened. Cline cites every possible source of conflicting opinion at every possible moment, and ends up deciding that no one cause of the collapse of the Bronze Age was sufficient explanation, so it must be
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explained by complexity theory, where multiple interlocking failures occur at the same time.

Was it worth the listen? Well, first off, don't listen to the Cline recording - it's terrible. The older one, in spite of not being updated, is very easy on the ears. Second, the beginning is pretty good, and the book may have been more interesting on paper if there are good maps to follow along with and give a better sense of the geography. I give the reader highest praise for reciting the names of people and places without a hitch, including Shoopilulioomoo (I think).

The book would have been so much better if Cline could have personified the history as does Barbara Tuchman in her book on the 14th Century. This degenerates into names, approximate dates, adversarial archaologists, and other refuted and rerefuted facts. Sigh. But it's done!
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LibraryThing member mattries37315
Their world was connected through trade, diplomacy, and cultural cross-pollination but within a lifetime everything changed. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed sees Eric H. Cline unveil the prosperous Late Bronze Age of the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean, the Fertile Crescent, and Egypt and
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theorizes about how they disappeared from history or were weakened apparently out of nowhere.

Using a variety of disciplines, from archaeology to linguistics, Cline shows the reader the world of the Late Bronze Age and the cultures that dominated it and their relationships with one another in an ever-increasing interconnectedness. Yet as Cline goes on to show this interconnectedness was also it’s down fall as natural disasters, climate change, internal and external migration, and numerous other factors that could have been weathered individually created a “perfect storm” of events that caused the international system to collapse. Cline doesn’t shy away from engaging in the long-held belief that the “Sea Peoples” were responsible for the collapse but shows how those migrates were reacting to the world falling apart and either taking advantage or running away to find stability. Throughout 187 pages, Cline packs in a lot of facts and speculations besides the confirmed history on events that could point to the truth of Troy and maybe the Exodus, though his speculation on the latter is weaker than the former.

1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed is a very fact dense book that is aimed for a general audience, but inquisitive and ready to get into nitty gritty of knowledge. Eric H. Cline knows his subject and is able to communicate it fairly well on page, but not as well as he comes across in lectures or presentations.
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Original publication date



0691140898 / 9780691140896


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