1177 B.C. the Year Civilization Collapsed
by Cline, Eric H.
pub. by Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, USA, 2014 isbn - 978-0691-140896 - - 237 p. - map p. v, vi - Black and White photos - Epilogue p.171 - 176 - Dramatis Personae (names of ancient people) p. 177-180 - Notes p. 181-200 - Bibliograpny p. 201-228 - Index p. 229-237
This in the first book in a planned series Turning Points in Ancient History, series editor Barry Strauss.
Cline takes the date of pharaoh Ramses III fight against the Sea Peoples for his title. This was a significant event in the history of the Late Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranen, including the Tigrus Euphrates civilization. The Minoans, Mycenaeans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonhians, Mitannians, Canaanites, Cypriots and Egyptians all interacted on a high level, ruler to ruler, in a surprisingly friendly matter, often addressing one another as brother or father. We know as much as we do because there was a common written language used between the rulers and their ministers, written Akkadian. This was the diplomatic lnaguage of the Bronze Age in the ancient Near East - using cuneiform (wedge shaped) signs, which most of the time were ~written~ on clay tablets which were sometimes (but not always) fired for durability. Cuneiform written in clay is more durable than most types of writing, which is one of the reasons why we know as much as we do of the events of a time several thousands of years in the past. (One wonders how much of ourhistorical documets will be available some 3000 years in the future.)
The cartuche (royal name symbols) of Egyptian royals as well as pottery styles and various inscriptions were useful for dating various events.
The book is a study of what caused the collapse of the civilizations of the late Bronze Age. The simple, and incomplete answer was that the unidentified Sea Peoples. They, whoever they were, were part of the solution, but by far not the whole story. A series of earthquakes, climate change, droughts, crop failures and famine contributed to the collapses. Also there is strong evidence of internal governmental failure. Some of the failed cities had weapons, including many arrowheads and other weapons found in their ruins but many others just seem to have failed and were abandoned. In other cases only the palaces and governmental buildings were destroyed but the living structures remained in fair condition. Some destruction was soon re-built, and other destruction was more total.
What happened overall is a continuing mystery, however Cline expects that there were a variety of reasons which individually and in concert with one another caused the end of civilizations as they were.
This is a good read, but one which involves a certain amount attention (especially if one is not acquainted with the civilizations and various names of places as they were known in antiquity.)
It is also a cautionary tale. What happened in the remote past could happen again.
~ 2015-05-02 ~
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