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1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Turning Points in Ancient History) Hardcover – March 23, 2014

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Winner of the 2014 Award for the Best Popular Book, American Schools of Oriental Research

One of The New York Post's Best Books of 2014

Honorable Mention for the 2015 PROSE Award in Archeology & Anthropology, Association of American Publishers

One of The Federalist's Notable Books of 2015

One of The Australian's Best Books of the Year in 2014, chosen by filmmaker Bruce Beresford

Selected as the 'Book of the Semester' Fall 2016, David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University

"The memorable thing about Cline's book is the strangely recognizable picture he paints of this very faraway time. . . . It was as globalized and cosmopolitan a time as any on record, albeit within a much smaller cosmos. The degree of interpenetration and of cultural sharing is astonishing."--Adam Gopnik, New Yorker [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-NY-Gopnik]

"A fascinating look at the Late Bronze Age, proving that whether for culture, war, economic fluctuations or grappling with technological advancement, the conundrums we face are never new, but merely renewed for a modern age."--Larry Getlen, New York Post [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-NYP-Getlen]

"Cline has created an excellent, concise survey of the major players of the time, the latest archaeological developments, and the major arguments, including his own theories, regarding the nature of the collapse that fundamentally altered the area around the Mediterranean and the Near East."--Evan M. Anderson, Library Journal [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-LibJourn-Anderson]

"Fresh and engaging."--Andrew Robinson, Current World Archaeology

"This enthralling book describes one of the most dramatic and mysterious processes in the history of mankind--the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations. Cline walks us through events that transpired three millennia ago, but as we follow him on this intriguing sojourn, lurking in the back of our minds are tantalizing, perpetual questions: How can prosperous cultures disappear? Can this happen again; to us?"--Israel Finkelstein, coauthor of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts

"1177 B.C. tells the story of one of history's greatest mysteries. . . . . [It] is the finest account to date of one of the turning points in history."--Ian Morris, author of Why the West Rules--for Now

"The 12th century BCE is one of the watershed eras of world history. Empires and kingdoms that had dominated late Bronze Age western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean collapsed."--Choice [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-Choice]

"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.'"--Publishers Weekly [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-PW]

"A detailed but accessible synthesis. . . . [O]ffers students and the interested lay antiquarian a sense of the rich picture that is emerging from debates among the ruins."--Scott McLemee, Inside Higher Ed [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-IHE-McLemee]

"In this enjoyable new book, Eric H. Cline has set himself an ambitious task: Not only must he educate a popular audience about the wealth and power of the eastern Mediterranean civilizations of the Bronze Age, he must then make his readers care that, some time around the year 1200 b.c., these empires, kingdoms, and cities suffered a series of cataclysms from which they never recovered."--Susan Kristol, Weekly Standard

"[An] engaging book. . . . Cline builds a convincing case for his theory over a long and absorbing tour of the Late Bronze Age."--Josephine Quinn, London Review of Books

"A wonderful example of scholarship written for the non-expert. Cline clearly pulls together the engaging story of the interactions among the major empires of the Late Bronze Age and puts forth a reasonable theory explaining why they seem to have evaporated as quickly as moisture on a hot afternoon."--Fred Reiss, San Diego Jewish World

"Cline's work reveals eerie parallels between the geopolitics of the first years of 12th century BC and today's 21st century. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed is history, but reads like a good mystery novel. Cline draws readers into his tale, revealing surprises throughout. It is all the more fascinating for being true, and for its relevance to today's world."--Mark Lardas, Daily News (Galveston, TX)

"Cline has written one of this year's most interesting books."--Jona Lendering, NRC Handelsblad

"Extremely valuable for scholars . . . Easily understandable by general readers."--Richard A. Gabriel, Military History Quarterly

"Cline is clearly in command of the textual record and his reading of it is the book's real strength."--A. Bernard Knapp, History Today [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-HT-Knapp]

"Written in a lively, engaging style."--Michael McGaha, Middle East Media and Book Reviews [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-MEMBR-McGaha]

"1177 B.C: The Year Civilization Collapsed is a thoughtful analysis of one of the great mysteries of human history. . . . Highly recommended."--James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review

"This work masterfully incorporates the present state of research into a welcome reevaluation. . . . Even more brilliant is the spin on the similarities between the predicament of this area three millennia ago and now."--Barbara Cifola, American Historical Review [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-AHR-Cifola]

"There are very few published titles which focus on the tumultuous events that took place in the Eastern Mediterranean at approximately 1200 BCE. . . . Cline's 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed stands out among the rest as one of the best and most thoroughly researched. . . . This book is presented as a mystery novel. . . . One thing is for certain, once started, you will not want to put it down."--Ancient Origins

"A gripping mystery story with clues to follow and evidence to analyze."--SG, Ancient Egypt Magazine [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-AEM-SG]

"Essential."--Thomas F. Bertonneau, Brussels Journal [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-BJ-Bertonneau]

"Well-written, very fairly argued and excellent value, it will set the agenda for Late Bronze Age studies for some time to come."--Peter Jones, Classics for All [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-CFA-Jones]

"Fascinating . . . [A]voids the tedium of so many academic writers."--Bruce Beresford, filmmaker [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-Beresford]

"Eric H. Cline has written a work of great scholarship, but has written in a manner so that the non-expert . . . can not only understand, but also appreciate it."--Don Vincent, Open History

"I don't know when I've appreciated a book as much as 1177 B.C. If you enjoy learning, you will enjoy this book! Highly recommended."--Thomas A. Timmes, UNRV History [See full review http://bit.do/Cline-UNRVH-Timmes]

"Impressively marshaling the most recent archaeological and historical evidence, Eric Cline sets the record straight: there was a 'perfect storm' of migrations, rebellions, and climate change that resulted in the collapse of states that were already unstable in the Late Bronze Age. There followed an 'age of opportunity' for new kinds of political systems and ideologies that remade the world of the eastern Mediterranean in the first millennium B.C. Onward and upward with collapse!"--Norman Yoffee, University of Michigan

"Cline has written a wonderfully researched and well-crafted overview of one of the most fascinating, complex, and debated periods in the history of the ancient world. Tying together an impressively broad range of disparate data, he weaves together a very convincing re-creation of the background, mechanisms, and results of the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond."--Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University

"This book is a very valuable and very timely addition to the scholarship on the end of the Late Bronze Age. Cline provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and up-to-date treatment of one of the most dramatic and enigmatic periods in the history of the ancient world."--Trevor Bryce, author of The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History

"This is an excellent, thought-provoking book that brings to life an era that is not well known to most readers."--Amanda H. Podany, author of Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East

"Cline expertly and briskly takes the reader through the power politics of the fifteenth, fourteenth, and thirteenth centuries BC with excursuses on important archaeological discoveries and introductions for each of the major players. No reader with a pulse could fail to be captivated by the details."--Dimitri Nakassis, Mouseion

From the Back Cover


"This enthralling book describes one of the most dramatic and mysterious processes in the history of mankind--the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations. Cline walks us through events that transpired three millennia ago, but as we follow him on this intriguing sojourn, lurking in the back of our minds are tantalizing, perpetual questions: How can prosperous cultures disappear? Can this happen again; to us?"--Israel Finkelstein, coauthor of "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts"

"Impressively marshaling the most recent archaeological and historical evidence, Eric Cline sets the record straight: there was a 'perfect storm' of migrations, rebellions, and climate change that resulted in the collapse of states that were already unstable in the Late Bronze Age. There followed an 'age of opportunity' for new kinds of political systems and ideologies that remade the world of the eastern Mediterranean in the first millennium B.C. Onward and upward with collapse!"--Norman Yoffee, University of Michigan

"Cline has written a wonderfully researched and well-crafted overview of one of the most fascinating, complex, and debated periods in the history of the ancient world. Tying together an impressively broad range of disparate data, he weaves together a very convincing re-creation of the background, mechanisms, and results of the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond."--Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University

""1177 B.C." tells the story of one of history's greatest mysteries. Unknown invaders shattered the splendid civilizations of the Bronze Age Mediterranean in a tidal wave of fire and slaughter, before Egypt's pharaoh turned them back in a fierce battle on the banks of the Nile. We do not know who these attackers were, and perhaps we never will; but no archaeologist is better equipped to guide us through this dramatic story than Eric Cline. "1177 B.C." is the finest account to date of one of the turning points in history."--Ian Morris, author of "Why the West Rules--for Now"

"This book is a very valuable and very timely addition to the scholarship on the end of the Late Bronze Age. Cline provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and up-to-date treatment of one of the most dramatic and enigmatic periods in the history of the ancient world."--Trevor Bryce, author of "The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History"

"This is an excellent, thought-provoking book that brings to life an era that is not well known to most readers."--Amanda H. Podany, author of "Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East"

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Product Details

  • Series: Turning Points in Ancient History
  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st edition (March 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691140898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691140896
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[ I have edited this review to correct some flaws pointed out in comments. ]

The other reviewers have already pointed out the book's many fine points; I agree with them that this is a book well worth reading. I had long thought that the Late Bronze Age Collapse was primarily due to the depredations of the Sea Peoples, and this book scotches that idea. Yes, the Sea Peoples played a part in it, but they may well have been just as much Effect as Cause. That is, their rampage may well have been induced by the same factors that brought down other cities.

The real contribution of this book lies in the application of recent archaeological findings to the problem. Over the last few decades archaeologists have built up a steady compilation of data on the cities of the Late Bronze Age, and they have demonstrated that not all those cities were destroyed in wars. Some show evidence of having been wrecked by earthquakes; in others, the destruction is confined to the central palace and government facilities, suggesting that a popular revolt, not a foreign invasion, lay behind the destruction. Other sites, however, do show the kind of general destruction we'd expect from a victorious enemy.

Especially important is the evidence they bring to bear showing that some sort of regional climate change was responsible for the at least some part of the collapse. The evidence indicates a cooler, dryer climate which would have been devastating to the cereal crops on which civilizations are dependent. The cooler climate would have led to repeated famines that would have led to revolts, migrations, and wars - all of which appear in the record of this period.

However, there are two points on which I disagree with the author.
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There are so many theories concerning the end of the Bronze Age that a description and discussion of the theories was really needed. This book presents a coherent and highly readable outline of the period, setting it into its historical milieu.. Dr. Cline proposes some interesting parallels between 1177BC and the present which should give us all pause. I read this book all in one sitting, even at dinner. I could not put it down.
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Prof Eric Cline's "1177 B.C.:The Year Civilization Collapsed" gives a very thorough and comprehensive background to the possible causes of the end of the Near Eastern Bronze Age, with one glaring omission - the other possibility; that it was all due to infectious disease epidemics.The "end" or "collapse" or "catastrophe" that occurred c1200 BCE was characterised by its short duration of approximately 50 years,mass migration by the "Sea Peoples" and the general population and finally abandonment of cities such as the Hittite capital Hattusa. To a medical historian, such as myself, that sounds like an infectious disease epidemic or series of epidemics that know no boundaries and cross borders freely at their will.
Ramesses V died of smallpox in the middle of this drama,the paleo-entamologist Dr Eva Panagiotakopulu has found bubonic plague rat and flea remains in Amarna,Dr Siro Trevisanato believes tularaemia was rampant in the Levant during this time,an earlier Egyptian painting depicts a withered leg due to polio and Egyptian mummies show the typical "Potts" fractures due to tuberculosis.Dysentery and malaria would have also existed along with measles and influenza,which in a virgin population not exposed to these diseases before would have been devastating.
Could not the "Sea Peoples" have been "pushed" out of their lands by an epidemic and could not they have been "pulled" by the prospect of new infection-free lands to the east, just as Amenhotep III was when he moved his court from bubonic plague infected Karnak to his new plague free site at Malkata ? The gods did not protect Egypt from this plague, so that may have been the reason Akhenaten abandoned them in favour of his new "one god" Aten in his new plague free capital Amarna.
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A really great book. It's not just about the "castrophe", but starts in the 1500's BC to completely fill in the background of Mediteranian cultures prior to the sea peoples. A super over view of this period in history, bringing in all the relevant archeology old and new. Fills in what is known about the cultures, Hittite, Minoan, etc. and their to me sometimes surprising relationships. Cline has a writing tecnique which pauses now and again to summarize what has gone before and give the reader a heads up as to what is coming. Classroom procedure, maybe, but it makes a complex story very readable (as opposed to stopping every 50 pages or so to look up prior material as so often must be done in books such as this). I'm a classics geek and it's been years since I've read such a superb book in this area. Spoiler alert: the invasion of the Sea Peoples is a lot more nuanced than we were all led to believe a decade or so ago.

This is the first in a proposed series on "turning points in ancient history". It sets a high bar.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is frustrating. The banal thing is that the author has been told to write a “catastrophe” book (see Editor’s foreword). It so happens that while there was rapid change at the end of the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean, there was no sudden catastrophe. So the author is making apologies all the way for this (for his complaint see pg. 142).

The second frustration arises from the fact that the author’s outlook is qualitative, and has no feel for “orders of magnitude” and logistics. This leaves the reader wondering not so much whether this or that happened, but whether it could have made a difference. Since the author’s argument is “system,” magnitudes and forces would be essential for plausibility.

A first example: the “Sea People.” Migrations on foot or on horse/chariots had already taken place (even in this instance logistics were far from simple, if they were en masse). At sea, the only one we know at the time, were those of Polynesians: successful, relentless, but small scale. And they targeted empty islands, avoiding inhabited places (Papua New Guinea). So the main question about the “Sea People” would be one of logistics: where did these sudden migrants get their boats, the skill to navigate in concert, to victualize on the way, and their ability to do concerted attacks by sea and land? Could they really carry out amphibious operations in the face of hostile reception? We are told that at Ugarit there were seven enemy boats, in another place 20. How many warriors could they carry? Would such parties be able to wreak the havoc they are accused of?

A second example is the “international trading system.” There was international trade around the Aegean, no question about it.
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