Eric Cline | 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Eric Cline | 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

[Applause] Thank you, Jack, and thank you all for
coming out on a snowy night. And I, I would like to thank Jim Sopranos, also, for
making my trip here possible. I’m actually in the archives during the day.
And then when Jack said, “Would you lecture on your book at night?” And I’m like,
“Sure, why not?” So, but I have to admit, I probably have not addressed an audience
where so many people have already read the book. Right. So how many have at least
started it? How many finished it? How many just think we should just chat about it?
Alright. Well, I had a lot of fun writing this book. I have to tell you,
though, it was not my idea to write it. It was Rob Tempio of Princeton University
Press. He took me out to dinner. That’s the best way to get me to write a book,
take me to dinner. And he said, “I’d like you to write a book about the collapse.”
And I said, “Well, anybody could do it.” I mean, there’s numerous people in this
audience could be writing this book. And I said, “And it’s been done before.” In fact, you
guys published a book, yourselves, about twenty years ago. He said, “Yeah, but there’s
been a lot of advances, right?” I said, “Sure.” And he said, “Well, I’d like you to
do it.” And I said, “I’ll do it on one condition. Let me write about what
collapsed, as well as how it collapsed.” Because, to me, the Late Bronze Age, I
think, is the most fascinating period in the history of the world. If I could live
any time, I would choose the Late Bronze Age. I’d probably be dead within 24 hours,
but I think it would be a lot of fun to live back then. So he agreed. He said, “Okay,
look, as long as you give me part of what I want.” So the beginning and the ending
of the book are about the collapse. And the middle part is about the 15th, 14th, 13th,
12th centuries, my favorite time of the world. And I had a lot of fun writing it.
But then he said, “In return, though, if I let you write about what you want, you
have to let me do a book trailer.” And I said, “What’s a book trailer?” He says, “You
know, like a movie trailer.” I said, “Yes, sure.
I’ve never heard of one for a book, though.” He says, “Oh, it’s all the new rage.”
“Like, really? I’ve never seen one.” So he sent me a link and I clicked on it.
This poor guy at some campus, holding his book, saying, “Hi, I’ve written a book, plea–please buy it.” And I, I called Rob up and I said, “I will not do that. I, even I have my
limits.” And he said, “No, no, no, I want to do something completely over the top.” And so,
I actually engaged one of my ex students, who runs a film studio, Jessie Krinsky.
And so we made this completely over-the-top trailer of about 53 seconds
long. I don’t know if it affected the sales at all, but it was a lot of fun to
make, so. Anyway we’ll, we’ll see. But if you want, I’ve got it. Do you want to see it? Yeah?
Okay, let’s see if I can get the thing working. And bear with me. It’s totally
over the top, I admit this, but let me see if I can get it working. We’ll see if the
sound works. [Dramatic trailer music] [Applause] I have no idea if that helped the book
sales or not, but it was fun to make. And they now, it, he just signed a guy to a
book contract, and the guy said, “I want a book trailer.” “Mm, okay, fine.” Alright.
Okay, so, serious now, serious now. Alright, what I want to do is talk about
the collapse that happened about 1200 B.C. Familiar to many of you.
It’s a collapse that I think the world has never seen until, say, the collapse of
the Roman Empire. And even that may pale in comparison here. So let me show you
tonight what I mean by that. And be, I’m fully aware that I’m not the first one
talking about collapse, right, that’s probably Edward Gibbon, with The Rise and
Fall of the Roman Empire. And then Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex
Societies, back in about 1988. And then, I imagine, how many of you have read Jared
Diamond’s book, The Collapse? Right. So. The one difference is that those authors were
all talking about one society. And what I’m talking about is multiple societies
that all went down at once. So they’re talking about the Romans, they’re talking
about the Maya, the Indus Valley. But we’re talking about, about eight
civilizations that all went down at once. And it’s not just that they were eight
different societies or civilizations, but they were intertwined, they were interwoven, they were globalized, if you want to call it that.
Now, globalization back then is a little bit different about, normal, from today.
It’s a smaller world, for one thing, but if you take a look at something like a
small world network diagram. This is something my wife works on, Diane Klein.
And so she made this diagram for me. And you can see that there are links between
most every one of these civilizations. If you’re familiar with Kevin Bacon, the six
degrees of Kevin Bacon, right? Same thing back then. If you didn’t know somebody,
you knew somebody who knew them. And so everyone is
connected back then. Now, the Late Bronze Age and us today are two of about the
only instances I can think of where people are that interlinked, that
interwoven, that globalized. So I actually think that there’s more comparison to
them back then than you might suspect. Now, we’re talking about period from
about 1700 to 1200 B.C. Late Bronze Age. Here’s some of the people that are
living back then. And I call them the G8. Fudging a bit. And, actually, if you count
them up, you’ve got the GN: Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, Cypriots, Mitanni,
Assyrians, Babylonians. There are eight there, but I’m fudging because the Aegeans
got both Minoans and Mycenaeans, so. But G9 just didn’t have the same ring. But, they
are, they are all interconnected. And then when they collapse,
pretty much everything goes down.Now, a lot of people say, you know, “Before I read
this, I didn’t think I knew anybody back then.” And, but, in an audience like this, I
mean, I don’t have to tell you that this period has everybody. I mean, Hatshepsut,
King Tut, Ramses II, Ramses III, my boy, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten. I mean,
this is all, this is that period. And this is the time with the Battle of Kadesh
and the Trojan War, if it took place, and the Exodus, if it took place. And, yes, we
do have arguments about that at home and everywhere else. So this is a period that
actually more people are familiar with than realize. And they go, “Oh, I didn’t
know that’s when they lived.” So, this is a period that when it does collapse and
everything goes down, interlinked, almost like dominoes, as I want to show you. And
when it does collapse, the world loses an amazing amount of knowledge. And we get
into the world’s first Dark Ages. So, I do think that it’s a collapse that
the world hadn’t seen and will not see again until the
Roman Empire collapses. So, the big question is, of course, “What caused it?” And
this is still a mystery today. I will tell you right now, spoiler alert, I don’t
know what caused it. I think I have some ideas about it, but there is no real
smoking gun, quite literally, out there. But let me present to you some of the
possibilities. And then see what, see what you think. So the original hypothesis is that the Sea Peoples did this. Those wacky
people coming running through the Mediterranean twice in 1207 and 1177. I
suppose, better would be to say the fifth year of Merneptah and the eighth year of
Ramses the Third, because you Egyptologists keep changing the numbers
on me, right. In fact, when the book came out, I got an email from a senior friend
of mine in New York City, who simply wrote, he, he said, “The title should have been
1186.” I sent him back a two-word email. No, no, it’s not what you think. I wrote, I said, “It was.” And, indeed, back when I started writing the book, in about 2008,
the, the contract says “1186 B.C.” By the time I finished it, I said that we got to
change it, it’s going to 1177. So, somewhere somewhere in there. But the Sea Peoples
come through the region twice. And we know the story from Medinet Habu, which
is a place very familiar to the OI, here. When the Medinet Habu was excavated
and they found the wall reliefs, Gaston Maspero, one of the earliest French
Egyptologists, already blamed the whole collapse of the Late Bronze Age on the
Sea Peoples. And he had already formulated this by like the mid-1800s,
and so it was kind of set in stone, as it were, by about 1901. This is well before
any of the sites that they were supposed to have destroyed had actually been
excavated. So after that, every time somebody found a site and it was
destroyed, they said, “Oh, it’s, it’s got to be the Sea Peoples.” But this is kind of
backwards, I think you will agree. But we have the full story, Ramses the Third
tells us about this. It’s the text that goes with the pictures, so I’m not going
to read you the whole thing, but give you an idea. He says, “The foreign countries
made a conspiracy in their islands. All at once the lands were removed and
scattered in the fray. No land could stand before them, their arms.” And, and then he
names the places they overran. And we know where they are, right, From Khatte,
that is Turkey, Qode, and, and Carchemish, Arzawa on the western coast of
Turkey, Alashiya, mainly Cyprus. All of them were cut off at that time. A camp was set
up in Amor, that is northern Syria. They desolated its people, its land was like
that, which has never come into being. And then, he ends up naming them. He says,
“Their Confederation was the Peleset, the Tjekker, the Shekelesh, the Denyen, and
the Wesheh, lands united.” And he beats them. And he actually tells us in the Papyrus
Harris, written about year twelve or so, says “I overthrew those
who invaded them from their lands. I slew the Denyen, who were in their isles, the
Tjekker and the Peleset were made ashes. Shardana and the Wesheh of the sea, they
were made as those that exist not.” Right, now, he’s calling them “the people from
the sea,” “the people from the islands.” But, you know, and “the people from the
north.” But if you go north, pretty much everybody is from over on that region. So
they didn’t actually call them “the Sea Peoples,” that’s, that’s us calling them
that. But if you want to figure out how to, how to dress like one, it’s quite easy,
because they’ve got all the the pictures right there.
In fact, for, you know, next Halloween, you could go as a Sea Person, if you want.
It’s actually a very cheap costume. When I was in graduate school, the two people
the year behind me showed up at the Halloween party with lots of letter C’s
all over, probably a hundred of them. And I said, “What are you?” They said, “We’re sea
peoples.” Well, it can be a very cheap costume, so. But, Ramses, you know, he tells
us their names, but he doesn’t tell us where they’re from. So we’ve been playing
a linguistic guessing game. So, the Shardana, I mean, name me a place in the
Mediterranean that’s got the same type of consonants. Sardinia, right. So maybe
they’re from there. The Skekelesh, again, place with consonants,
maybe Sicily. The Tjekker, who knows, maybe the Sikels or the Troad. Denyen,
people like to say these are Homer’s Danaans, namely the Mycenaeans. The Weshesh, maybe from Troy, who knows. It’s only the Peleset that we think we know,
these are the Philistines. And in fact Champollion had already made that
assignation way back when. And the Bible actually says
the Philistines come from Crete, so if you want it to work that way, you can. But
there’s a problem, because there’s not a single site that we can point to where
we say these people came from. And it’s quite possible that they went to
Sardinia or Sicily after they’re defeated. You know, we don’t know if
they’re coming west to east or east to west, so it is still all quite a great
mystery. We do have Philistine settlements, of course. From the region of
Canaan, Israel, Lebanon, Syria. Lots of work going on right here, and I think Aren Maeir lectured here on the Philistines not so long ago. The one thing to remember,
though, is with the reliefs at Medinet Habu, they’re not just showing Vikings
coming through, they’re showing a migration, right. It’s not just single
warriors, but you’ve got women and children and ox carts. And so this is a, a
whole migration of people. And so it used to be that people said–and not even used
to be people still say it now–that there was a drought, it led to famine, that led
to movement of Sea Peoples, that led to have a con-cutting of the trade routes,
and that led to the collapse. And, indeed, you know, maybe that is what happened, but
I would say that’s probably too simple and too simplistic, right. Everything is a
lot messier than it, than it should be. So, if that’s too simple, I would ask, “What
really happened?” And that’s what I’m going to present to you. Tonight we’re
not going to go through the whole book, that would take three or four hours,
though I’m happy to do it if you want to. But let me just present you some of the
major hypotheses for what caused the collapse and then see if we can bring it
all together. But I would start out by saying that this is a globalized society,
as far as I can tell, and you’ve got everybody happily linked with everybody
else. And in part, what, what serves as a very good example is bronze itself. I
mean, we’re in the Bronze Age, 3,000 to 1000 B.C., but specifically we’re in the
Late Bronze Age, actually almost the Middle Bronze Age, as well. And, of course, bronze, you make it tin plus copper. If you’re not so
smart, you’d use arsenic instead of tin, but you’re not going to live very long.
But copper is no problem, right, copper is going to come from Cyprus. The tin at
that time, there’s a number of different places, southeastern Turkey, maybe you’re
intrepid enough to get up to Cornwall. But the vast majority seems to be coming
from off the map, here, namely Afghanistan, the Badakhshan region. In fact, anybody
wearing lapis lazuli jewelry? Anybody have any? Right, so that’s coming from the
same approximate location. So, we’ve got texts that tell us that the tin is
coming all the way from Afghanistan. We’ve got one text at Mari that talks
about tin coming to Mari and then going to Ugarit on the north coast of Cypru–of Syria. And there it is being met by and then transported on to Crete by
Minoans. And in this text, it talks about Caphtorian merchants. That’s
the name. Caphtor is Crete. So, imagine if that trade route is cut at any point,
in any time. That’s really going to cause a crimp in your metalworking facilities.
And that may in fact have been part of what happened at the end of the Late
Bronze Age. In fact, a friend of mine, Carol Bell, whom some of you know, in
England, made the analogy that tin back then is like oil today. And so she said
the procuring of tin, probably, you know, transfixed the mind of the king up in Hattusa and the, the pharaoh down in Egypt, just like getting oil today for American
SUVs is fixating the president. So, I think that’s actually a pretty good
parallel, a nice little analogy, oil and tin. But the Mari Letters tell us other
things too. I, these are 1800 B.C. Right, time of
Hammurabi, the law code guy. And in these texts in the Mari archives, which is a
little bit before our time, but it serves to demonstrate what, what was going on
at that time. There’s one letter, for example, that talks about a Caphtorian
weapon, that is a Minoan weapon: “The top and base are covered with gold, its top
is encrusted with lapis lazuli.” This is not the weapon
that it’s describing, but it’s one that probably looked fairly similar. I don’t
know about you, but I would love to have one of these.
Right, just walking around on campus, just, I mean, maybe I’d need a concealed
weapon permit, I don’t know, but that would be fun. One of the other letters,
and have to admit it’s my absolute favorite, talks about a pair of leather
shoes–I’m presuming they’re sandals–that in the Caphtorian style–that is, so
Minoan sandals–which to the Palace of Hammurabi–that is the Hammurabi. A man
named Bahdi-Lim brought but which were returned. I’ve never understood that.
Now, these are gifts coming all the way from Crete, and Hammurabi couldn’t be
bothered to accept them, right? I mean, were they too small? Were they, were they
so last millennium? I mean, he could have at least accepted them and
regifted them, right. “Here, I got these, they’re too small, but
they’re from Crete, and–” So, I had my students at one point go through
Hammurabi’s entire law code, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s not a
single law, there’s not a single penalty for returning shoes. Alright, so we’ve
got this globalized society, it’s merrily churning away, everybody’s trading with
everybody else, everybody’s marrying royal daughters, and so on and so forth.
Into that drop a little bit of chaos, and one by one all of the societies start to
wink out. And actually, not even one by one, but pretty, pretty fast. The only one
left is Egypt, and even that’s a Pyrrhic victory, because it’s really so weakened
it’s never going to be quite the same again. So the way I would phrase it is
that the world in 1200 was quite different from the world in 1100 and
completely different from the world in a thousand B.C. And that’s what we’re
looking at here. So how do you get to that point? So it used to be that
everybody just blamed the Sea Peoples. So now, the Sea Peoples are part of it for
sure. But I think, in some ways, they’re as much victims as they are oppressors. I
think they’re, they’re not the cause, they’re part of the, you know, part of the
problem, but they’re not the problem. So I want to look at some of the other things
that people have suggested, namely, drought and famine and invaders and
earthquakes, and see if any of them could have played a role, as well. So I’m gonna go
through these fairly quickly, but one by one and present the evidence that we’ve
got, and see if we can come to some sort of agreement as to what caused this
collapse. So, first of all, drought. Drought. This isn’t a new idea. Rhys Carpenter
at Bryn Mawr College suggests this back in about 1966. He said the drought had
ended the Mycenaean world. But he didn’t have real proof for it. He had some
population movements, but he didn’t have the hard data. Well, I think we’ve got it
now. And it’s recently, in the last couple of years. So, for example, David Kaniewski, a French scholar, and his team have been
working at Gabala in North Syria, and they did some pollen cores. Based on
their findings, they said that there is a drought in that region in the 13th and
12th centuries which lasted for up to 300 years or so. So, looking at the pollen,
they said it became drier, it became more arid. This is the type of data that Rhys
Carpenter was looking for but didn’t have. Now, they also went over to Cyprus,
to Hala Sultan Tekke, did the same thing, and they published this in 2013.
The lagoon there, they took samples, and again they said that there is an event
there from 1,200 to, you know, 800 or so. Again, drying out, more arid, looks like a
drought. And then, Brandon Drake, in 2012, in between, put out three separate lines
of evidence that he had collected, including the fact that the surface of
the sea in the Aegean changed temperature, and that’s going to affect
the precipitation, how much rain you get on the land. This, he published it in
Journal of Archaeological Science. I was so taken with this article, I thought it
was absolutely fabulous, so I wanted to, like, to send him an email and congratulate
him. That, I have no idea who this guy is, so I googled him, and the first thing
that came up was, “You are friends with him on Facebook.”
I’m like, “Seriously?” So, I sent him an email, and I’m like, you know, “Dear Brandon Drake, apparently we’re friends on Facebook.” And he writes back, “Eric, we dug
at Megiddo together in 2006.” I’m like, “Wait, that was Lee Drake.” He says, “Yeah,
Brandon Drake and Lee Drake are the same guy.” I’m like, “Oh, Lee, okay.” So, be careful, if you think
you don’t know somebody, they may be friends with you on Facebook. At any rate,
all of this, I think, is very good evidence for a drought. But then, pretty
much, the final peg was a study that Dafna Langgut and Israel Finkelstein
and Thomas Litt put out in 2013, where they went to the Dead Sea and the Sea of
Galilee, and, again, doing pollen cores. And they also found evidence for a
drought, but a shorter one, from about 1250 to 1100, at the most. And so there, I
think that was–in fact, this study came out when my book was in the press. Like, I
had read the final proofs, it was done. And I, I sent an email, and I, I said
something I’ve always wanted to say. I said, “Stop the presses!”
They said, “We don’t use presses anymore.” Like, “Oh, well, stop whatever it is!”
And they said, “You, you can’t add this in.” I said, “If I don’t add it in, the book
will be outdated before it even comes out.” And they said, “Well, you can’t do
overflow. But if you can find a page or two where you end halfway down the page,
you can add in enough to take it to the bottom of the page, but not go on to the
next one.” So, I think if you look through the book, you’ll see I discussed their
article in two places, and in both places, it’s at the end of the chapter, so. But. I
was very grateful for them to do it. So, I think now we’ve got the evidence that
Rhys Carpenter was looking for. I think there’s no doubt that we’ve got the
scientific evidence that there was a drought at that time. And in fact, there’s
even more evidence, I believe, out there. But, of course, the world’s media seized
on this, right. I don’t if you remember the articles that came out as each of
these groups made mention of their finds. So the New York Times came out, “Pollen study
points to drought as culprit in Bronze Age mystery.” And
the LA Times: “Climate change may have caused demise of Late Bronze Age
civilizations.” National Geographic got into it.
Archaeology Magazine: “Drought may have caused Bronze Age collapse.” Even a New
York Post–they managed to put globalization in, as well. And then, of
course, there was the famous study that was supposed to be funded by NASA, in
which they said that we are going to collapse in coming decades. And at that
point, I got a little fed up, and so I decided to write my own op-ed and put it
in the Huffington Post. And I was trying to figure out a good, a good title for it.
And my daughter said–well, you know, it’s like Facebook, again–says, “The collapse of
civilizations, it’s complicated.” Alright. So, there’s been a lot of debate, a lot of
discussion about this. And I actually think that’s in part why the book has
resonated with some people. It’s because debate about climate change is going on
today, debate about whether climate change was going on back then. But if
you’ve got some sort of drought, it’s going to have ripple effects, or not even
ripple effects, things like famine. But famine can be very hard to find in the
archaeological record, right, unless you find dead bodies, things like that. But if
you have written texts, that’s where you’re going to get your evidence. And so,
that’s where a site like Ugarit, where we already met our Minoans waiting
for their tin. The archives Ugarit shed some light on this. So we have a
text, for example, from the house of Urtenu, talking about a famine that is ravaging the city of Emaar, somewhere around the
year 1185. And it says in the text, “There is famine in our house. We will all die
of hunger if you do not quickly arrive here. We ourselves will die of hunger. You
will not see a living soul from your land.” Now, I don’t know about you, but for
me, that’s a pretty good indication that there was famine, alright. Alright. But just in
case you’re not convinced, here’s a letter from the king of Ugarit to
somebody, we don’t exactly know whom. But he says, “Here with me, plenty has
become famine.” So, there you go. There is famine in Ugarit. And even up in, in
Anatolia, the Hittite king: “Do you not know that there was a famine in the
midst of my land? It’s a matter of life and death.” So, there is, I think no
argument that there is famine at that time. And with that, then, perhaps there
were invaders, perhaps there was internal rebellion–you know, everything that goes
with problems, especially if the lower class is going to rise up in
rebellion. So, were there actually invaders, was there actually internal
rebellion? Well, again, the texts tell us, as well as the archaeology. So here’s
another letter from the king of Ugarit, written to the king of Cyprus. And he
says, “Now, my father, the ships of the enemy have come. They’ve been trashing my
country. If anybody sees any more ships, please tell me.” Well, the thing was, when I
was in undergrad, and in graduate school, they always taught me that this was
found in a kiln and that it was being baked before it was gonna be sent off
to Cyprus. But, of course, that’s a little bit too good of a story, it was a
wonderful story. But our re-examination of its fine context shows that it’s
probably not in the kiln, it was in a basket that fell from the second floor,
along with about 70 other tablets. They landed upside down. The basket
disintegrated, but left a kiln shape. So, if that’s true, then we don’t actually
know which invasion this is. Maybe it’s the 1177 one, or a little bit earlier.
Maybe it’s the 1207 one, or a bit earlier. But this isn’t actually as helpful as we
might have thought. And yet, it does talk about the ships of the enemy. So if you
want to talk about invaders, this would be one part of the evidence. There’s a
private letter, one of the last ones from Ugarit. He says, “When your messenger
arrived, the army was already humiliated, the city was sacked, our food and the
threshing horse was burnt, and the vineyards were also destroyed. Our city is
sacked. May you know it, may you know it.” So, again, textual
evidence, kind of hard to argue with. The only problem is, we don’t actually know
who is doing it. We know they’re invaded, but we don’t know by whom. So Kaniewski, when they were at Gabala, identified the Sea Peoples. And they put it at a
specific date, 1192 to 1190, which is very specific
using radiocarbon. I think I know how they got there. But I’m also not so sure
that we can just blithely identify Sea Peoples there. There are arrowheads and
there’s pottery that looked Sea People ish, that looked Philistine-ish, but that
doesn’t mean that they’re the ones that torched the site. It may mean, simply, that
they resettled afterwards. So this is an ongoing debate, but they actually
published their article, saying it was the Sea Peoples with a specific date. And
I think that might be a little too hasty. Though, y’know, it will provide further debate.
The only problem is, and I give you this Canaanite Hazor as an example. Even if
your city is destroyed, you don’t always know who did it, and you’re not always
sure exactly when it happened. So, at Hazor, we know it’s destroyed. The
Late Bronze Age palaces, towards the mud bricks are all burnt, cherry red and
brown and black. But we don’t know if it’s 1230 or if it’s 1180. They did find
some wheat, and the radiocarbon should help us out there, but don’t quite know
what it is yet. But even the co-directors couldn’t agree on who destroyed Hazor. So Amnon Ben-Tor suggested that it might be Egyptians or Canaanites or
Israelites or the Sea Peoples. And he ruled out the Egyptians and the
Canaanites because there are statues that are mutilated there, both Egyptian
and Canaanite ones. He said Egyptians wouldn’t have mutilated Egyptian statues,
Canaanites wouldn’t have mutilated Canaanite statues. And it’s too far
inland for the Sea Peoples, he said, which I would disagree with, but. And so for
Ben-Tor, that left the Israelites, with Joshua, and all that. And
indeed, Hazor is mentioned in the Bible as being burnt to the ground. But his
co-director, the late Sharon Zuckerman, said, “No, only the palace and the temples
are burnt.” And that, for her, was a symbol of internal rebellion. She says, “This isn’t
outside invaders. It’s the, the lower population rising up in rebellion.”
So, my point would be that if the two co- directors of the site can’t even agree
on who destroyed their site, then I don’t know how we’re going to. And this is
symptomatic. When you have a site that’s destroyed, yes, you can see it’s destroyed,
but you don’t always know who, or even what destroyed it. So, for example,
earthquakes are probably responsible for quite a number of the destructions that
we’ve been attributing to the Sea Peoples, but it can be very, very
difficult to tell. So, here’s a map, for example, of most of the sites that were
destroyed in the catastrophe, around about 1200. In fact, a 50-year period from
1225 to 1175. If you overlay on top of it a map
where earthquakes have happened in the last century, since 1900, you can see that
most of the sites are actually in active seismic zones. And, in fact, there are
fault lines that run across this region. You’ve got the light blue one that’s the
North Anatolian fault line. You’ve got the green one coming down on the coast
of Greece. You’ve got, of course, the one coming up the Great Rift Valley, where
the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee are. This, this whole area is active
seismically. And one thing people don’t realize, which
I thought was kind of neat when I learned it. There are–if you have an
earthquake and it doesn’t release all the pressure in the fault line, you’ll
have another earthquake right nearby, very soon thereafter. Maybe days, maybe
weeks, you know, a year, at the most, or so. And if it doesn’t relieve the rest of
the pressure, you’ll have another earthquake and another earthquake and another
earthquake. Amos Nur, at Stanford University, and others like him who study
this, have called the modern ones an “earthquake sequence.” But they also say
that it happened in antiquity, and they call it an “earthquake storm.” So at one
poin,t Amos and I decided to look at all this, and sure enough, we came up with a
whole series that, I think, take place from about 1225 to 1175. But if you don’t
believe me, just take a look at the North Anatolian fault line. And on this map you
see a number from about 1939 to 1999. If anybody remembers that big earthquake
that hit about a hundred kilometers outside of Istanbul in, I think it was ’98,
’99, right. Thousands of people killed, a couple million, if not billion dollars
in damage/ That was just the last of a series of earthquakes that’s taken place
over the last 60 years. So I might suggest that Aegean and the eastern
Mediterranean may have seen one of these earthquakes storms, as well. And what you
want is not only bodies, and things like that, but evidence that they’re on an
active fault line. This is actually now my, my favorite picture for showing this.
You recognize it, of course, right? We’re at the Lion Gate at Mycenae. But if
you take a look on your left, underneath that big cyclopean wall. You see the rock
face coming down? What I didn’t realize that most people don’t realize, either, is
that that’s a scarp from a fault zone. That’s one half of a slip line. So when
the, the seismologists all went to Mycenae, they said, they started laughing.
They said, “You know, Mycenae is built directly on a fault line, and look at the
scarp.” And when I heard that, I started laughing, too. I’m like, “Who on earth would
build their city on top of a major fault line?” I’m like, “Oh, wait, San Francisco, yeah, okay.” Right, I grew up in San Francisco, so I
know earthquakes. Alright. At any rate, at Mycenae, we have houses that are
destroyed in an earthquake, and we have victims, as well. These two pictures, it’s
the same skeleton being dug by Mylonas, Ione Mylonas. And that rock that’s next to her head was actually in the skull. She was standing in a doorway, and
the doorway collapsed and killed her. Also, just three kilometers away,
at Tiryns, we’ve got women and children buried under collapsed walls that
probably fell in an earthquake. And at sites like Troy, we’ve got tilted walls.
There’s the same one, that I was just there in August. That wall should not be
tilting like that, that’s what happens in an earthquake. And even at Ugarit, right?
Trust me, I don’t think that wall was supposed to be that undulating.
Alright, that’s what happens in an earthquake. Now, sometimes it can be easy
to tell that you’re in the earthquake. If you find a site where you’ve got all the,
the columns from a Greek temple line all in rows like toothpicks, or dominoes,
that’s a pretty good indication. If you’ve got a site, I think, like at
Baalbek, where you have the keystone slipped out in the archway, that’s also a
good indication. But you don’t have that many arches back in the Late Bronze Age,
so we’re dependent on, on things like this. But there’s something like 17
different bodies at about six different sites that I think are all attributable
to earthquakes at this time. So I think we do have to count that as one of the
possibilities. But I don’t think that that’s going to bring an end to
everything. And we’ll come back to that, in a moment.
But what about the cutting of the trade routes? I said this was a very globalized
period. And so I do think that if you cut the trade routes, you’re going to be in
trouble. So I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but this is near and
dear to my heart, Late Bronze Age trade. And so I just wanted to
show you a couple of quick examples of some of the contacts that are going on
at this time. For instance, Hatshepsut’s famous embassy, or expedition, down to
Punt, which she shows us on the walls of her mortuary temple. She tells, shows us
what is brought back. She even tells us the name of the queen, a woman named Ati.
Of course, our problem has long been where exactly is Punt? But that may have now
been solved looking at a couple of baboons from the British Museum, which is
showing that it’s probably Eritrea, or Ethiopia, which was one of the prime
candidates. Now, Hatshepsut’s not the first person to send an embassy down to Punt,
people do it a couple of different times, but that’s one of the things that she’s
known for. But in her reign, and in the reign of Thutmosis the Third, her stepson, we’ve also got embassies coming, or people coming,
from the Aegean. Here’s the tomb of Rekhmire and we’ve got Aegean peoples
bringing goods in here. Also, other tombs. And you can see the one guy bringing a
bull’s head on it. That’s got to be a Minoan there. So we’ve got contacts with
Mycenaeans and Minoans. And if you don’t believe that, my boy, Amenhotep the Third,
and his Colossi of Memnon, right. The mortuary temple that they stood in front
of is now long gone. It’s being re-excavated right now. But in the ’60s and
’70s, a couple of statue bases were found. You can see just the bases here. Ten feet
tall high Amenhotep the Thirds. There’s thought to be ten of them, at first. Now
they’re up to about forty of them. And on the bases are topographical names,
basically, the world known to the Egyptians at that time. So one of them
has names that have never been seen before in Egypt, and basically never will
be seen again. They mentioned places like Amnisos,
and Mycenae, and Nauplion and Kythera. In fact, Amnisos is on there twice. Knossos is on there, as well. And the headers are Keftiu
and Tanaja. Now, Keftiu is the Egyptian name for Crete, and Tanaja is probably the
Egyptian name for mainland Greece. So, we’re looking, I think, actually, if you
plot these on a map and if you figure out where objects with Amenhotep the
Third and his wife, Queen Tiye, cartouches are found, you find them at Mycenae, you
find them at Knossos. In fact, many of the sites that are listed on that
statue base have objects of his with his cartouche on them added out there. So, I
think there’s a link, right there. In fact, if you plot it, here’s the scarab at Knossos. If you plot it, I think we might be looking at a geographical list. I don’t
know that he went, I don’t know that he sent anybody. But if you look at the
order, it actually looks like a trip from Egypt to Crete, then up to mainland
Greece, then back to Crete, and then back to Egypt. And in fact, I would suggest that
maybe that’s why Amnisos is on there twice. That’s going to be one of the
first places you hit when coming from Egypt up to Crete, right. So, you know,
everybody off, time to use the bathroom, get yourself a Coke, alright. And then
you go up and you visit your old friends, the Minoans, and you go up and you visit
these newfangled Mycenaeans, and then you head back towards Egypt via Crete, and
there you are at Amnisos, and you’re like, “Okay, everybody out, last bathroom stop
before we’re, you know, another however many miles.” So, I don’t know if I’m right,
but I do like this idea of a geographical itinerary. At the very least, I think we can agree that this means that New Kingdom Egypt, at this time, knew
about the Minoans and the Mycenaeans. So, there’s no way they, they would have the
names Knossos and Mycenae on the statue base list if they didn’t. Now, and
in fact, if we go back to Ugarit, there’s a text from about 1260 B.C. The Sinaranu Text. And he, it says here, “From the present day Ammistamru,
son of Niqmepa, King of Ugarit exempts Sinaranu, son of Siginu. His grain, his beer, his olive oil to the palace he shall not
deliver. His ship is exempt when it arrives from Crete.” So here we’ve got
textual evidence from the 13th century of a guy sending a ship from coastal
Syria to Crete and bringing back grain, beer, and olive oil. But he is exempt.
Right? I think this is probably the very first corporate tax exemption in history.
And then, of course, we have the Uluburun Shipwreck, which is familiar to
everyone in the room, here. It sank about 1300 B.C. I’m not going to go into the
details. George Bass and Cemal Pulak, who have been excavating it, can do that far
better than I can. Just to point out that we’ve got, in addition to the stone
anchors, we’ve got about 300 of these copper oxide ingots. This would have been
a king’s fortune back then. In fact, there’s enough–let’s see, there’s about ten tons
of copper and a ton of tin. You could make enough bronze to outfit 300 soldiers
with swords and shields and helmets and everything else you need. But that’s not
the only raw goods on here. You’ve got tin. You’ve got, the upper right, blue
glass, raw blue glass. You’ve got terebinth resin, down in the lower left
corner, from the pistachio tree. Ivory from elephant and hippopotamus. And then,
unused, brand-new, Canaanite and Cypriot pottery. This ship for me is a microcosm
of the Late Bronze Age. You’ve got at least seven different civilizations
represented in their goods, both finished goods and raw materials, right. There’s
even some Italian stuff, and maybe a stone base from the Balkans, as well. So
they have postulated that this ship is going round and round and round. I’m not
so sure. It may actually be a gift from one king to another. Or, anything else is
quite possible. I actually think maybe it was on a shopping expedition, right, being
sent from Mycenean Greece. Right? “We need some copper and some tin,
and while you’re out, get some milk, as well.” So who knows. It sank. But we have
things like these texts from from the Amarna Letters, where it says, “I will
bring to you as a present, two hundred talents of copper.” Now, if one
of those oxide ingots is a talent, then on the Uluburun ship, you’ve got 300
talents. So, these numbers are not all that incredible. So, I would use bronze,
the tin plus the copper, as just one example of the globalized world back
then. And, again, I would ask, what do you think would happen if this trade route
was cut at any point, and you can’t make bronze anymore? Well, that’s in part why
they’re going to go to iron, as other people have suggested. Now, let me sum up.
I’ve gone on long enough. But, let me sum up by pointing out three things with
which I don’t think you will have any argument. Okay? Point number one. Are we
all agreed that there are a number of separate civilizations that were
flourishing back in the Late Bronze Age? We’re all agreed with that? Hittites,
Canaanites, Mycenaeans, Minoans, all those, all those good people? Right. That is
inarguable. They were independent, but they were also interacting with each
other, especially through trade. So I think that’s point number one that
nobody is going to argue with. Number two, it’s pretty clear that many of the
cities were destroyed, and that these civilizations kind of came to an end, as
did life as they knew it. And it’s somewhere around 1177 B.C. Right? We all
agree with that, as well. Now, let me point out, here, that 1177, apart from the fact
the original title was 1186, it’s also, it wasn’t my idea, right. The
publisher said, “Trust me on this.” You, I’m like “No, no, no. It should really be, you know,
the ending came about a century, it took a while.” He says, “That’s not a good title.”
I’m like, “But civilization didn’t really end in 1177.” He’s like, “I know that,
and your readers will know that, too. But you need something to catch them.” Alright. So,
basically, the idea is that we know that the the collapse took place over about a
hundred years, right. I already said 1,200, 1,100, 1,000. Very, very different. So, if
the collapse takes place about over about a century, I would actually use
1177 as a nice, as a shorthand, right. When you’re talking about the Late Bronze Age
collapse. And this is the time that Ramses the Third says that the Sea
Peoples came through for the second time. So, just like when you’re talking about
the Roman Empire. Alright, Roman Empire ends, everybody
knows, in what, 476. Right? Except it didn’t, right? Tt took most of the fifth
century. And even then, you’ve still got the Eastern Roman Empire going. And, but
476 is shorthand for the fall of the Roman Empire. So my goal is to make 1177
shorthand for the fall of the Late Bronze Age. Supplanting 1200, which is too
round a number. Right. So I’m well aware that it did not come to an end in 1177,
but I’m using that as shorthand. In fact, some of the cities, like Megiddo and
Lachish, may not have come to an end until about 1130. So there is this, about
a century, that comes along. But still, I think we will all agree that everybody,
or many people, get destroyed, eventually. But I think you’ll also agree with point
number three. There’s actually been no proof as to what caused this. Right?
There’s nothing that everybody agrees on. We can, you know, talk until the cows come
home about the various possibilities, but there is no one thing. Alright, we’re
all agreed on that. And yet, people still talk about this linear progression. “No, no,
it’s still, it’s drought, famine, rebellion, cutting the trade routes, and that ends to
collapse.” I think it’s a lot messier than that. Nothing is ever that linear. Right.
So, going back to our nice little, globalised “tick tick tick tick tick,”
where everybody is interacting with everybody else. Tossing just a little bit
of chaos in there. Right. And then you’ve got chaos theory and everything else that
you can talk about, but in the end, everybody disappears, except for
Egypt, and even they are pretty weakened. And then, of course, Ramses the Third the
great hero who beat the Sea Peoples, gets himself assassinated in a harem
conspiracy. Right, not a, not a very great end. So, when people, you know, say to me, “So
what do you think the driving force was? Was it, you know, was it earthquakes?” I say, “Yeah.” They say, “Well, was it drought?” And I say, “Yeah.” And say, “Was it famine?” I say “Yeah.”
They say, “Was it invaders?” I say, “Yeah.” they They said, “Yeah, which one?” I’m like, “None. All of them.” Because people couldn’t–you know, people have survived famines, right?
People have survived droughts. People have survived earthquakes. People have
survived invaders. But what if you’re not surviving just one, but two of those, or
even three of those? And this is what I think we’ve got. I think we’ve got a
perfect storm. Where if they had just had earthquakes,
maybe they would have survived. If they had just had famine, maybe they would
have survived, right. It’s kind of like the anti-Dayenu. Right? It’s not enough. Alright. So, and when they do go down, they go down like dominoes. So, I think
that they were dependent on each other enough that when the Mycenaeans fell, it
would have impacted the others. Certainly, when Cyprus went down, it would have
impacted the others. So, I think we really are looking at a perfect storm. In fact,
what we’re looking at is a systems collapse. Right. If you look at a systems
collapse, it’s when the entire central administration collapses. The elite, the
traditional elite, disappears. The centralized economy goes, you know,
downhill. And you’ve got all kinds of population shifts. And I think this is a
classic example of a systems collapse. And the definition here, which, it goes
back to, like, Colin Renfrew in 1979. It usually takes about a century. There’s
usually a dark age that happens right afterward. And when they’re coming out of
that dark age, they start immortalizing the great period behind or before them, right. I mean, think of Homer, talking about the Iliad and the
Odyssey, and all of that. So I think we are looking, pretty much, at a systems
collapse. Now, that’s fine and dandy, but, you know, one of the things that I like
about archeology and ancient history, is I do think there are lessons that it can
teach us if we’re just willing to listen. So, in this case, what lesson can we learn?
Well, let me ask you a question: do you think we are facing today the same
situation that they faced back in about 1200? Now, how many would say yeah? How
many would say no? Alright, well let me ask you, are, is there maybe climate
change going on today? Maybe? We can have a whole debate about that, right. Alright. Alright, how about that, easier. Are there famines and droughts that are
going on, from place to place? How about earthquakes? We got earthquakes.
Rebellions? Yeah? I think the only thing that we’re missing is the Sea Peoples.
And, in fact, as somebody at one of my other audiences says, they said, “Don’t you
think that ISIS is is our modern-day version of the Sea Peoples? Which is
possible. Possible. Let me put it another way. If you’ve been reading the newspapers for the last two years. The headlines–this is ripped straight from the headlines– include, “Greece’s economy is tanked,” right.
We’re all agreed, they’re still in trouble, we were talking about that at dinner
tonight. Alright. There are internal rebellions in
Libya and Egypt, and Syria, and there’s invaders and foreign warriors
fanning the flames. Turkey is afraid it’s going to be
involved, Israel’s afraid it’ll be dragged in. Jordan is crowded with
refugees. Iran is bellicose, Iraq is in turmoil.
Right. This, these are all ripped from the headlines, right, the last two years or
so. Now, what about the headlines from 1200 B.C.? Pretty much the exact same thing. So, I’m saying there are more parallels
to the fall back then, then to today that you might expect. So, I do think that
we’re more technologically advanced, obviously. But that doesn’t mean we’re
immune, right. There’s, every, every civilization that’s been around has
collapsed, up until now, so why should we be immune? The difference is that we can
maybe recognize it. I’m not sure that the Hittites were able to recognize their
imminent collapse, though they may well have. The, the difference is, though, that
we can maybe do something about it. But that’s not for me to decide. I look at
ancient history, somebody else has to figure out how we’re going to survive.
But, I want and not on a downer, but on an, an up note. So, I would say that there is
a silver lining, right? There always is in every cloud. Because the Bronze Age
civilizations did come to an end, it created a power vacuum in this region.
And we get new peoples then, like the Israelites, and the Phoenicians, and the
Aramaeans. And because they establish themselves, we get things like the
alphabet, we get monotheism, and then, like in Greece, eventually, we get democracy. So
I would say that, out with the old, and in with the new. And that sometimes you need
a wildfire. And a wildfire will clear away the undergrowth of an old-growth forest
and allow it to thrive anew. So the collapse of the Late Bronze Age was
terrible for them, but not so bad for us. And with that, I thank you. [Applause]

88 thoughts on “Eric Cline | 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

  1. So, do scholars (Biblical or otherwise) link the Exodus story of the Hebrews into the land of Canaan with the invasion of the Sea Peoples? Makes sense chronologically and contextually I just haven't heard that before. Could help explain the ten plagues…Also, love the reference to "Dayenu" after reeling off the catastrophes that civilization could have survived individually, but not all together. Wonderful lecture thanks for posting for public consumption!

  2. I bought and read the book before finding this lecture. I enjoyed both. I was comparing interglacial temperature spikes and drop-offs with civilization collapses and mass migrations. It would seem that this one considers with the drop after the Minoan Warm Period. During these cold snaps you have more earthquakes, droughts, famines, mass migrations and civilization collapses. There were problems after the Roman Warm Period collapsed and after the Medieval Warm Period collapsed. Now that the 20th Century Warm Period has collapsed, we are seeing a similar pattern emerging. Just a thought on history repeating.

  3. A great presentation. Fascinating. Yes, nothing that has happened in history will not happen again – world wars, famines, depressions and epidemics. It is naive to believe that we are the first blessed civilization and generations that are immune.
    Calling WW1 the first world war is far from the truth. The ancient civilizations whose economies were based on conquest were the first world wars, since so many of the known civilizations were involved.
    Mass migrations of less developed populations don't mean that they instantly 'catch up' the minute they set foot on the soil of more developed nations, especially when they have steadfastly held onto ancient ways and many have little interest in 'catching up'.
    Admit it or not, we all make is a goal to change people to our way of thinking. People who suddenly abandon their thinking for new ideas are few and far between.
    Add to that all the other factors of climate change, over stripping of resources, the epidemics that pop up on a regular basis. All those things are a recipe for unrest and rebellion. We are very likely in a similar perfect storm as the bronze age civilizations. Perhaps humans and their responses to events are a as cyclical as ice ages. I don't believe we can do anything more than watch in fascination as it happens again.

  4. That's the way the cookie crumbles, i.e., chance does operate — as well as Murphy's Law. So what — the world collapsed then and will again collapse [like a "house of cards"].
    To wit: You will yet observe that Putin & Trump will NOT light the fuse of WW3 over a bowl of "SPILLED MILK & HONEY". Get it? (These will be the days of VENGEANCE -that all things written may be fulfilled. Destruction is decreed — 0verflowing with rightousness).
    PS: The guys who prophesied in ancient times set TRAPS in their scribblings. [Traps for TRAP-SETTERS ONLY] In the end you will al understand that clearly [Jeremiah 23:20].

  5. Egyptians are like a Bronze Age to the Byzantines, who survived the migration period and carried ancient culture through centuries later.m

  6. In answer to that question about invaders (or locals) destroying crops in a drought-time, this is going on right now in present day Nigeria. "The Boko Haram raiders looted and burned houses, set fire to crops that were ready for harvesting, and killed the locals – even though the army had been alerted to the assault."

  7. Great lecturer. Very formative view into this part of history representing a peak in knowledge and interconnectednes. Filled with various details e.g. that tin was the scarcity of the time. It was traded with Afghanistan and hence the route to the Mediterranean was critical to maintain. The civilisation ended because of anything else than one particular reason though, say war, rebellion, earthquake, famine, epidemic, but a combination of such events. As far as I remember, Kenneth Clarke upon reading Edvard Gibbons, concluded that the Roman Empire did not collapse because of one single reason either, but because of fatigue, a natural death you could say. The Bronze Age apparently did not, it was vibrancy against chaos.

  8. Questions and more questions.
    1) drought, famine and possible plague as the collapse is sudden and sequential?
    2) administrative skills exclusively in the hands of the elite and priests and the long road back to law and order and organization?
    3) Sea invaders=pillage, slaves, wealth…what peoples prospered at this time? Early Athenians re: Plato's account of Solan's Egyptian visit?
    4) Invasion and pillaging by known local peoples also seeking food, but not necessarily know by artifact writer?
    5) Facing extinction, elite and priests gathered to leave a written history rather than rule over chaos…hence the eventual Abrahamic writings that become the bible?

  9. ..obviously not KEMET, Greeks referred to as Egyptian. The only civilization that survived what you refer to as the Bronze period.

  10. I could spend my life in college with you history scholars. you got it!!! it was a convergence of catastrophes!!!! such as new geological evidence showing roman collapse may have timed up with a regional era of soil degradation and everything that goes with it.

  11. If the middle east did collapse, it wouldn't be the world shattering event that it was in the distant past. civlization was destroyed because civilization only existed the regions that fell into ruin.

  12. How weakened was Egypt after Rameses III? Well, to give you an idea, it basically had a revolving door of foreign occupiers: Nubian, Libyans, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and finally (in terms of the ancient world) Romans.

  13. The Exodus? Really? Seriously?

    The historicity of the exodus continues to attract popular attention, but the archeological evidence does not support the story told in the Book of Exodus[4] and archaeologists have therefore abandoned the investigation of Moses and the Exodus as "a fruitless pursuit."[5]

  14. Excellent excellent presentation. Very interesting info and the modern comparisions of Bronze and Oil are too similar to ignore.

  15. I find it truly amazing that academia
    can not open their minds to space falls alike what was said 'out with
    the old and in with the new'. How does the Mediterranean trade,
    earthquakes, drought, and war affect the Maya? When I read the Iliad
    it surely sounds like a cosmic story and a lot of text back then
    sound metaphorical as in the Sea People. All of a sudden these
    people come out of nowhere and bring down all civilizations across
    the globe and vanish. Ancient text speak of the water, sea, lake,
    ocean, river, and stream as the sky and space in the most part, so
    why are educated people fixated on Earthy waters and thinking sea
    monsters (people) only exists there? The kings always take on the
    attributes of the Gods of the sky so why would one think all the
    military inscriptions are real life occurrences? Admittedly in the
    interpretation of one of those texts 'the seven ships of the enemy
    are doing us harm… if others show up tell me… ' How is the far
    away 'father' going to know what is happening where the report is
    made? That doesn't make sense. But the number seven does, as in the
    Pleiades wherein the Taurid Stream delivers bolides which could
    produce the destruction that is being admittedly guessed at as a
    combination of many factors and somehow affects the Maya culture on
    the other side of the Earth which points to a causation from above !
    Read my book From The Deep Ocean Above and tell me it doesn't add up
    much better than the points made here. Also, many places of
    destruction are abandon to archeology, could it be that they were
    taboo to go to after such a blast from above? Furthermore the
    Egyptians and the Maya speak of destruction from above by feathered
    serpents originating from the Pleiades.

  16. Gifts brought to great kings meant far more than just a gift.
    Gifts to great kings were always given in order to promote a cause the petitioner/gift-giver wanted that king to help them with.
    Hammurabi, being the king he was, probably 'returned' the shoes, because he did Not favor the representative, the cause, and/or country it came from……did Hammurabi go to war with the country, in the months after refusing the gift? Had some other country ask for his help fighting off a 3rd country? Help the petitioner's country with food? Other help petitioned for? That might help the shoe gift refusal make sense.

  17. In regards to the trade route's, the mineral signature of the copper traced it to N. America……Michigan in particular. The people of those cultures disappeared also. Thank you Mr. Cline for the lecture and thank you "The Oriental Institute" for posting it.

  18. Nice video, thanks. There appears to have been a plague affecting the Hittites at or around this time as well. Origin: Egypt. Could this have been another of the factors affecting the collapse?

  19. I love this period and have been reading about it for a long time, the book gives a great panorama of the late bronze age. This lecture is very good and I certainly would recommend it.

    I would like to add two details:

    * The military during the late bronze age was (mostly) based on elite professional charioteers using chariots that were high-tech in their age as much as the stealth jet planes of today. When the trade routes are cut or rebellion rises in many places the replacement of lost chariots (and the highly trained men who use them) is very hard. If the military force of a state collapse the country soon follows.

    * What really collapsed was the urban culture of the late bronze age, while the rural population might have suffered great decline they still were there. The so-called Dark Age is just the peasants taking over after all the towns are burnt to the ground. As the professor says at the end after the dark age the past is glorified and remembered because they are the same people! Linear-B is Greek! All the bishops of the Francs were Roman patricians, etc, etc…

    With a globalized trade-dependent world without a central political authority (Roman Empire was globalization wrapped with military power) the real question is not what caused their collapse but how did they manage to set this system up in the first place. You don't wonder why planes fall to the ground, but how they fly. I think people spend way too much time discussing collapse without a sufficient study of the rise of states/empires/trade systems, etc. One cannot understand why the Roman Empire declined and fell without studying why they ascended and got established in the first place!

  20. Yesterday I become interested in bronze age civilization collapse. Today I am watching a lecture on this by foreigner professor from the university at the another side of the world. I live in the future <3

  21. Stop the nonsense that Caphtor is Crete. No historian or Bible commentator from antiquity equated Caphtor with Crete. The Bible mentions the Caphtorim as an Egyptian people and tradition always associated it with the region of Kaphutia (Pelusium).

  22. Here is a theory, read the history book, the Bible. In it Pharaoh was expecting the jews, the people doing the real work, to make bricks without any straw, and build this great civilization, the pyramids, without giving them the means to take care of themselves. In the end God led them out of Egypt. These were the people providing the food shelter and clothing for the whole society, and they decided that if they weren't going to get to share in the fruits of their labors, they were going to walk off the job, and do their own thing, and Pharaoh could starve to death.
    History has a way of repeating itself, we build temples to ball, while the people doing the work pay for them are taxed out of their homes, while the "players" make multimillions, to play, getting the capital that should be going into homes.
    It winds up being a pyramid scheme, and pyramid schemes collapse when you run out of people to buy in, Isaiah 30, in fact Isaiah 26 to 30, or the whole book.
    But then again, Mr. Cline is a player, produces something that some people may want, as opposed to needs. Technology is such that the man hours to produce the needs is less, we no longer plow with oxen, or reap with sickles, allowing him not to struggle for food. Now we create jobs that produce nothing, junk mail and paperwork, and those people make more than people taking care of the elderly, harvesting the crops, working the stores. The people blowing up houses, and "defense contractors" make more than carpenters, who build the houses, and keep them in repair, so we have homelessness…… And the government "assistance" is relied on for even working people to eat, although the crops were grown. Etc., etc., etc..

  23. he seems like such a passionate scholar. he always makes that "i'd probably only survive 24 hours back then" joke every lecture hah

  24. For the last two decades I've been working on a theory that explains repeated systems collapse/reorganization, in terms of long-term yet rapid cyclical climate change, from warm-wet to cold-dry regimes, associated with Bond Events, which in turn are linked to increased seismicity/volcanism and nested solar cycles.

  25. No sign of a volcanic eruption somewhere in the world around that time? Like the year without summer in 1816 after an eruption in Indonesia, or the eruption in the 530s (about) in middle America that caused depopulation in northern Europe and maybe is the origin of the Fimbul winter story. Or the Laki eruption on Iceland that may have caused famine and the French revolution.

  26. Schliemann was a fraud who found nothing !
    The ancient city of Troy, Saxon Israel was the basis of Plato's Atlantis. The IS on the end, being a hint. Jesus Christ himself, was a Trojan Saxon, who was indeed a priest of ON ! A high priest of ON, as Solomon , Rameses and Poseidon, the father of Atlas, this Trojan Saxon Israel was a worldwide empire with huge fleets of ships and technology yet unequalled. 1207-1177 is obviously the forty years wandering in the desert with Moses and Aaron.
    I am not speculating, but have evidence. I mean a big hint is the" Shekelesh".

  27. Ok, humor me a moment and let's call this ancient systems collapse a failure of "materials systems." We are currently in the "information age." Do you guys think it's safe to say we are heading towards a collapse of "information systems" based on a lack of trust in institutions formerly relied upon to verify information, amongst other things?

  28. Moving Tin over the silk road from Afghanistan to the Med is challenging, it would dramatically increase cost with duty levied by each city (toll) and exposure the merchant to potential robbery for such a precious commodity. Moving bulks by sea is much more likely (you can move over 30 tons by ship, a ton by cart on dirt track – much slower), it is more likely that Tin was coming from Iberia (that may have also controlled supply from Brittany and Britain into the med) using established ports. We tend to think in modern terms, but maritime trade was prolific before this dark age, it was largely controlled by the Minoans in the Med before this, with their demise their was no-one to bring in Tin to power the Bronze age economy in this region, the infighting between city states which followed may have been a need to acquire sources of metal by conquest. The flow stopped, it took considerable time for the Phoenicans to reestablish these sources after the time of the Seas People.

  29. 5:22 He misrepresents Tainter to say he is only talking about collapse of single societies. Tainter specifically refers to highly interconnected societies and states that individual societies cannot collapse because one of their neighbours will take over. The exception is when they all collapse together, due to the same dynamic of increasing marginal cost of managing complexity. The Bronze Age Collapse is an example of this. Here is an excerpt from
    The Collapse of Complex Societies, by Tainter, p215
    " Collapse is possible only where there is no competitor strong enough to fill the political vacuum of disintegration. Where such a competitor does exist there can be no collapse, for the competitor will expand territorially to administer the population left leaderless. Collapse is not the same thing as change of regime. Where peer polities interact collapse will affect all equally, if and when it occurs, provided that no outside competitor is powerful enough to absorb all. Here, then, is the reason why the Mayan and Mycenaean centers collapsed simultaneously. No mysterious invaders captured each of these polities in an improbable series of fairy-tale victories. As the Mayan and Mycenaean petty states became respectively locked into competitive spirals, each had to make ever greater investments in military strength and organizational complexity. As the marginal return on these investments declined, no polity had the option to simply withdraw from the spiral, for this would have led to absorption by a neighbor. Collapse for such clusters of peer polities must be essentially simultaneous, as together they reach the point of economic exhaustion. "

  30. I love Neil Sedaka. I did not know he was an Historical expert. He seems to know it all. Bronze age collapsed while he sang "Breaking Up is Hard to Do". Thank God the Beatles came along and started the Iron Age.

  31. This was great. Why Archeology & Anthropology are important! But, there's one thing  Dr. . Cline didn't mention:  during the bronze age there were no nuclear weapons.  Just a thought. 🙂

  32. Velikovsky worlds in collision, mainstream hates him for taking all of their sources and by using interdisciplinary techniques which is the only way to go for it must all line up, claims it was the planets Venus and Mars, every prediction he made came true.

  33. 1177-1171BC; The years that the global climate collapsed. Northern Europe was iced over for the 5 year Ragnarok the Five Years without Summer, (Irish bog oak studies). The sea peoples are from the Bronze Age Civilization of Northern Europe. Phaeakian (Viking) Longboats that cruised the North Atlantic and near Arctic brought gold, silver, copper and furs to Europe (Hyperborea) from as far away as Copper County, MI.
    When the Raganarok struck, they, their families, flocks, history, culture and traditions sailed South, along side Peoples such as the Pallas-Aethenian (Peles-et, Phillas-Tine), Achaean, Danoi, Troyan and Phoenikian. They fought the local inhabitants for lands and harbors in the warmer South, from Lebanon to Cadiz they brought their Culture and Warfare.
    When the reached the Eastern Mediterranean they met the Mycenaean elite and their serfs (farmers/Aegrika/Greek) and many settled on either side of the Dardanelles and around the Western shore of the Kymerian (Cimmerian) Sea. The Kymer had the farthest to travel and they scattered far from their arctic homes in the far North of Europe to far separate lands.
    Most of the Mediterranean Bronze Age civilizations were already reeling from the Winter Storms, crop destruction, famine and pestilence that always follows a gigantic cold event.
    They stood little chance against the Sea Peoples and the others that swarmed down from the North through the passes in the Caucus Mountains. Peoples such as the Hebrews and their Céile Dé-an cousins the Gaels and Iberians had pushed East into Scythia from the Empire of the River Egypt and then after surviving many years in desperate circumstances where other died. They took lands away from the locals and made them their own.

  34. i like , good works , to be more visual , how about art , faces in each cultres style ,,also knief , whos brandishing what , ag tools ? rake hoe an plow ,again times 8 cultures , 1177 bc is remote , oh rocks an stones geology , a cut at where who was getting tin from where ,who made do with arsnec ? ,c ya

  35. I am watching the your lesson s. Im deep a prissier This lessons I am CP I am disabled and I cannot staying in the abraded thank you so much for your support and your team program thanks a lot.

  36. I am watching the your lesson s. Im deep a prissier This lessons I am CP I am disabled and I cannot staying in the abraded thank you so much for your support and your team program thanks a lot.
    And I d like to stading more long time and version
    I am a majoring China’s Buddiesisms
    I have master of art ‘s degree thanks so much

  37. What about the global climate issues of the time ? Tree ring studies of Northern Europe point to devestating effects triggered by either a volcano eruption or a comet strike.

  38. Great job, only the "sea peoples" could be all the shifting populations going to "better shores" trying to survive.

  39. I am absolutely floored by the fact that Dr. Eric Cline not only omits that fact that the Canaanites known as "Phoenicians" (and their cities) were left untouched by the Sea Peoples but he actually claims that they too were destroyed among others. Nothing can be further from the truth. Speechless. The collapse of the Eastern Mediterranean civilizations (Mycenaeans, Hittites, Egypt, Ugarit et al.) not only benefited the Canaanites known as "Phoenicians" in getting rid of competitors/ennemies (the Mycenaeans thwarted the Phoenicians from expanding West, the Hittites had taken over Ugarit in the North and were also at the Western border of Phoenicia, Egypt didn't offer the promised protection to the Phoenicians against the Hittites). The Phoenicians played a major role, if not THE role, in the collapse. Their cities remained intact. The Phoenician city of Award (captured by the Hittites) was returned to the Phoenicians after the Sea People had recaptured it. Most importantly and above all, the Phoenicians were able to expand their maritime empire west and thrive for at least another millenium. Their expansion West was also responsible in the formation of the Western world (Greeks and Romans) where the Phoenicians, either their own knowledge/inventions and/or in relaying the ones of the others in the East (namely the Egyptians and Mesopotamians).

  40. wish you would have spoken more in-depth about the book, stopped watching after 18 minutes because you comedy is horrendous and dont care about you side commentary. guess ill never know

  41. As humans progress technologically, generation know how is gained but also lost, like today we know who to operate a computer but we dont know who to grow a damm cabbage, my theory is that when tin stopped flowing from the far east afghanistan, going west to the mediterranean sea, for some unknown reason, these societies collapsed because they didnt knew who to function properly without bronze anymore, the same would happen today if oil stopped flowing, if central power can´t manage to fed and protect their populations its just the end of it. Right? just a guess.

  42. Thank you for this lecture and posting. It's indeed interesting and mesmerising; one of the more peculiar thing in this, is that the "invaders", being it Sea People, are not said by any in this huge area where come from. It would had been both easy and natural to say "the Cretans", "the Cypriots", the Myceans" etc. Strange.

  43. В России вышла книга об экономических кризисах (Колташов В. Г. Капитализм кризисов и революций: как сменяются формационные эпохи, рождаются длинные волны, умирают реставрации и наступает неомеркантилизм, М.: «РУСАЙНС», 2019), включающих кризис III в. и кризис XIV в. Автор известный специалист по кризисам. Рецензия на нее: Эта книга выйдет и на английском языке, возможно уже в 2020 г. Если поставить в ряд 1177 г. до н.д. с кризисами III в. и XIV в., то получится целостная картина важнейших – определяющих экономический, политический и культурный ландшафт кризисов-взрывов. (в продаже и торрентах книга есть)

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