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


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


Michael Segal on Dreams and Riddles in the Book of Daniel


On February 23, 2012, Professor Michael Segal, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, delivered the lecture “The Writing On the Wall: Dreams and Riddles in the Book of Daniel” at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

The lecture is available in mp3 audio format.

Dr. Michael Segal is the Chair of the Department of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (on sabbatical during the 2011-12 academic year), and also serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Hebrew University Bible Project. His research interests center upon Jewish literature of the Second Temple Period, including the late Biblical books, Dead Sea Scrolls, Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha; the textual history of the Hebrew Bible; and ancient Jewish Biblical interpretation. His first book, entitled The Book of Jubilees: Rewritten Bible, Redaction, Ideology and Theology (English: Brill; Hebrew: Magnes; 2007), was awarded the Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanistic Disciplines (2008). He is currently writing two books on the Book of Daniel. The first will consist of a collection of interpretive studies of central passages in the book. The second will be a complete, critical commentary of Daniel and the Additions to Daniel for the Anchor Yale Bible Series.

Aren Maeir: New Light on the Biblical Philistines

On April 23, 2014, at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, Professor Aren Maeir gave the 2014 David Kipper Ancient Israel Lecture: “New Light on the Biblical Philistines: Recent Study on the Frenemies of Ancient Israel”. Professor Maeir discusses the evidence which challenges the theory that the Philistines arrived in a single invasion in Iron Age I. The video is now available on YouTube.

Aren Maeir is a Professor at The Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University and Director of The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, The Institute of Archaeology.

The Philistines are well-known from biblical texts as one of the main adversaries of the ancient Israelites. At the same time, the biblical narrative indicates that other types of interactions also were the norm. Recent excavations in Philistia, and in particular those at Tell es-Safi, biblical Gath of the Philistines, hometown of Goliath, have provided exciting evidence of the very complex interaction between these two cultures, revealing the multi-layered facets of what could be termed a Frenemy relationship between the Philistines and Israelites. In addition, recent finds have very much changed our understanding of who the Philistines were, where they came from, and how their culture formed, transformed, and eventually disappeared. These topics will be addressed in this lecture.

h/t: Aren Maeir, The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Oded Lipschits: “The Myth of the Empty Land and The Myth of the Mass Return — A New Look on the History of Judah under Babylonian and Persian Rule”

Professor Oded Lipschits delivers the inaugural Dr. David A. Kipper Ancient Israel Lecture at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, entitled “The Myth of the Empty Land and The Myth of the Mass Return: A New Look on the History of Judah under Babylonian and Persian Rule”, April 29, 2013.