Preppers, survivalists, safe rooms, gold in the backyard…Lots of people seem to be worried about the collapse of society and civilization, whether because of Financial Crisis 2.0, the arrival of aliens or asteroids, or the eclipse of all values. But chances are that few of us have experienced the collapse of a civilization, and that the real thing is far more frightening than we actually imagine.
Our guest today, Eric H. Cline, helps us understand what such a catastrophe means in his acclaimed book 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Princeton University Press, 2014). As Cline makes clear, it takes more than one calamity to ruin a civilization. And the Bronze Age ended in a whirl of calamities–droughts, famines, earthquakes, wars, invasions, and governmental collapse. All were a long chain of disasters so heavy that they dragged down an entire civilization. That is, everything familiar soon became strange and distant to those living in a subsequent “dark age,” a dark age more catastrophic and grim than even that period that followed the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.
Eric H. Cline is Professor of Classics and Anthropology, and Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University. He has been an active field archaeologist for over thirty years, recently retiring as co-director of the Megiddo Expedition. The author of numerous books and articles, I’m very pleased to welcome him to Historically Thinking.
As always, we hope you enjoy the conversation, and we invite you to leave a comment or a review on iTunes and let us know how we’re doing.
For Further Investigation
Cline, E.H. 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cline, E.H. The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cline, E.H., ed. Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cline, E.H. Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.
Cline, E.H. From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible. Washington, DC: National Geographic Books.
Cline, E.H., and J. Rubalcaba. The Ancient Egyptian World. New York: Oxford University Press.