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.
Archaeologist Cline (From Eden to Exile) looks at the downfall of the many interconnected civilizations of the Late Bronze Age. This complex, highly organized interplay was sustained for three centuries, and came to an end over a period of approximately 100 years. Cline explores a vast array of variables that could have led to the disruption of the society of this era, including earthquakes, famines, droughts, warfare, and, most notably, invasions by the "Sea Peoples." In some cases, the end was abrupt, but mostly it was highly evolved kingdoms ending not with a bang but a whimper. Cline handles the archeological evidence well, though the narrative drive is lacking. For example, early in the book he refers to the 2011 Arab Spring, making a comparison between those events and similar incidents in ancient times. Unfortunately, he doesn't carry the analogy far enough and the book's storyline suffers. Cline is at his best when he discusses the archives of letters found at Ugarit and Amarna. Much time is spent invoking the Sea Peoples, but the conclusion is that their role was small. Overall, Cline's work appears aimed at those who have more than a passing interest in archeology, as that record bears the heaviest influence on the whole of this story.