1177 B.C.

1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Eric H. Cline
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhpm6
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  • Book Info
    1177 B.C.
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4998-7
    Subjects: History, Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. SERIES EDITOR’S FOREWORD
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Barry Strauss

    This volume is part of a series called Turning Points in Ancient History. Each book in the series looks at a crucial event or key moment in the ancient world. Always volatile and frequently dramatic, these were points at which history took a new direction. Whether famous or forgotten, they are moments that matter. Our focus is on why and how, as well as on when. Series authors are scholars who know how to tell a story and narrators who have the latest research at their command.

    Turning Points in Ancient History reflects wide-ranging trends in the study of the...

  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  7. PROLOGUE THE COLLAPSE OF CIVILIZATIONS: 1177 BC
    (pp. 1-13)

    The warriors entered the world scene and moved rapidly, leaving death and destruction in their wake. Modern scholars refer to them collectively as the “Sea Peoples,” but the Egyptians who recorded their attack on Egypt never used that term, instead identifying them as separate groups working together: the Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Shardana, Danuna, and Weshesh—foreign-sounding names for foreign-looking people.¹

    We know little about them, beyond what the Egyptian records tell us. We are not certain where the Sea Peoples originated: perhaps in Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy, according to one scenario, perhaps in the Aegean or western Anatolia, or possibly...

  8. CHAPTER ONE Act I. OF ARMS AND THE MAN: THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY BC
    (pp. 14-42)

    In about the year 1477 BC, in the city of Peru-nefer in the Nile delta of Lower Egypt, quite close to the Mediterranean Sea, Pharaoh Thutmose III ordered the construction of a grand palace with elaborate frescoes. Minoan artists from distant Crete, located far to the west across the Great Green (as the Mediterranean Sea was known to the Egyptians), were hired to create these frescoes. They painted pictures never seen before in Egypt—strange scenes of men leaping over bulls—with the paint applied to the plaster while it was still wet, in anal frescostyle so that...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Act II. AN (AEGEAN) AFFAIR TO REMEMBER: THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY BC
    (pp. 43-72)

    Towering more than sixty feet high and destined to stand guard for the next thirty-four hundred years, even as the mortuary temple that stood behind them was looted for its magnificent stone blocks and slowly crumbled into dust, the two huge statues standing at the entrance to Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple at Kom el-Hetan were, and still are, erroneously called the Colossi of Memnon as a result of a mistaken identification with Memnon, a mythological Ethiopian prince killed at Troy by Achilles. Each statue depicts a seated Amenhotep III, pharaoh of Egypt from 1391 to 1353 BC. In part because...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Act III. FIGHTING FOR GODS AND COUNTRY: THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY BC
    (pp. 73-101)

    We don’t know what happened during the final moments of the ship that sank off the southwestern coast of Turkey at Uluburun (roughly translated as “Grand Promontory”) sometime around 1300 BC. Did it capsize in a great storm? Did it founder after striking a submerged object? Did its crew intentionally scuttle it to avoid being taken captive by pirates? Archaeologists do not know, nor are they certain of the vessel’s origination, its final destination, or its ports of call, but they did recover its cargo, which suggests that the Bronze Age ship was most likely sailing from the Eastern Mediterranean...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Act IV. THE END OF AN ERA: THE TWELFTH CENTURY BC
    (pp. 102-138)

    This is the moment for which we have been waiting: the climax of the play and the dramatic beginning of the end to three hundred and more years of the globalized economy that had been the hallmark of the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. The twelfth century BC, as we will see in this final act, is marked more by tales of woe and destruction than by stories of trade and international relations, although we can begin on the high note of the latter.

    Chance is said to favor the prepared spirit, but in some cases...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE A “PERFECT STORM” OF CALAMITIES?
    (pp. 139-170)

    We are now finally in a position to attempt to solve our mystery, by pulling together all of the different strands of evidence and the clues that are available, so that we may determine why the stable international system of the Late Bronze Age suddenly collapsed after surviving for centuries. However, we must come to this with an open mind and employ “the scientific use of the imagination,” as the immortal Sherlock Holmes once said, for “we must balance probabilities and choose the most likely.”¹

    To begin with, it will be apparent by now that the Sea Peoples and the...

  13. EPILOGUE THE AFTERMATH
    (pp. 171-176)

    We have seen that for more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age—from about the time of Hatshepsut’s reign beginning about 1500 BC until the time that everything collapsed after 1200 BC—the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Minoans, Mycenaeans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Mitannians, Canaanites, Cypriots, and Egyptians 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. The cultures of the Near...

  14. DRAMATIS PERSONAE
    (pp. 177-180)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 181-200)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 201-228)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 229-237)