Eric Cline, 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

On February 25, 2015, Professor Eric Cline (The George Washington University) delivered a lecture at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, on the collapse of civilization at the end of the Late Bronze Age. The lecture was on the same subject as his recent book, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (2014).

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, as it did after centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was not the result of a single invasion, but of multiple causes. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end.
Lecture by Eric Cline on “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

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Professor Cline also delivered a similar lecture to the National Capital Area Skeptics, on October 8, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland:

 

Eric H. Cline: “The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel” – On Archaeology and the Bible

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Professor Eric H. Cline delivers four lectures on the current state of archaeological contributions to the understanding of the Hebrew Bible. The lectures are available as mp3s and on iTunes. The lectures were originally delivered in February 2010 to the Josephine F. and H. Max Ammerman Study Retreat.

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part I

Part one discusses the account of the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan.

mp3 iTunes

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part II

Part two discusses David and Solomon. Both kings have been the subject of controversies and debates. A reference to the “House of David” was found in 1993 on an inscription in the north of Israel — the first extra-biblical mention of David yet discovered — allowing us to reconsider the evidence for David and Solomon.

mp3 iTunes

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part III

Part three discusses how the expansionist ambitions of the Neo-Assyrians from Mesopotamia in the eighth century BCE spelled an end to the kingdom of Israel and gave rise to the tradition of the Ten Lost Tribes. The question of where the exiled members of these tribes ended up continues to be debated.

mp3 iTunes

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel: Part IV

Part four discusses how Nebuchadnezzar and the Neo-Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem not once but twice, burned the Temple of Solomon to the ground, and exiled the leading citizens of Jerusalem and Judah to the far-away city of Babylon. It also provides an in-depth look at Jewish history during the Babylonian period.

mp3 iTunes

Eric H. Cline is Chair of the Department of Classical and Semitic Languages and Literatures at The George Washington University.