Saturday, September 25, 2021

Robert Boyd's Book Report: 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

 by Robert Boyd

Today I report on 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline, a professor of classics and anthropology at George Washington University. The subject here is an event early in human history known as the Bronze Age Collapse, when all of the empires and kingdoms of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East collapsed more-or-less simultaneously around 1200 B.C.. (Other bronze age civilizations include the early Chinese kingdoms and the Indus River Valley Civilization. China was not really affected by the Bronze Age Collapse and the Indus River Valley Civilization had collapsed earlier.)

The old theory was that a group of sea-faring marauders (called the Sea People) destroyed all the big empires. This theory has taken a beating as archeological techniques have become more sophisticated (especially underwater archeology, seismic archeology, and the study of ancient pollen that indicates when periods of drought occurred) and also as new ancient cities keep being found. In fact, I suspect if there is a new edition of this book in 20 years, some conclusions will have been superceded by new discoveries.

So much of what Cline writes seems possible to write about today. I expect climate change may produce new mega-droughts, new famine, and new migrations. And while it's happening, we might not even be aware that a new dark age is commencing. Cline points out that the Hittites, for example, were not aware that all of their fellow civilizations were collapsing while it was happening.

I recommend the book--Cline is a lively writer and it's useful to have an index and a list of names of the historical figures. But Cline has also done some good lectures online.

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