Tags: Cline | 1177 | bronze | collapse

1177 BC — A Bad Year for Civilization

By    |   Thursday, 09 Oct 2014 07:58 AM

During the recent National Book Festival in Washington, Eric Cline, a professor of anthropology and classics and director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University, presented his book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.

So it was not 2008 after all when it collapsed.

This article is motivated by the idea that perhaps there might be some lessons from Cline's rendition of 1177 B.C. that might be useful to policymakers as they grapple with an array of stubborn problems in 2014, before Al Gore invented the Internet and perhaps even before the advent of crisis management firms, K Street think tanks, the World Trade Organization, commodity futures trading, derivatives or the iPhone 6. What was the long-term investor thinking about in 1177 B.C.?

Thomas Youkel, enterprise systems engineering group chief of the Library of Congress, introduced Cline as the first person he had every met who has his own Wikipedia page, a specialist in biblical archaeology and of the military history of the Mediterranean from antiquity to the present and a writer or collaborator on 16 books and more than 100 articles. Youkel called this book "a fascinating read," and it attracted a large audience to this lecture.

Cline used a slide show to illustrate why 1177 B.C., which was the end of the late Bronze Age, was so fascinating and, in Cline's view, more historically significant than the fall of Rome was. Cline recounted that when he was commissioned to write about "the collapse," he insisted on being allowed to write about "what collapsed" in a world that was already "globalized," an attribute that Cline believes contributed to the collapse of the civilization of "Sea Peoples."

Spoiler alert: Cline acknowledged that the nature of ancient archaeology is that scholars are still not sure, although Cline offered a theory.

The period Cline is looking at is from 1700 B.C. to 1200 B.C., with a cast featuring the Mycenaeans, the Minoans and the Hittites, all of whom are lost in the collapse of civilization. It's a time of famous Egyptians, who also have their own Wikipedia pages, such King Tut, and Ramesses III, who was in power at the time of "the catastrophe," and it was also the time of the Trojan Wars and the Exodus, about 1250 B.C. to 1200 B.C.

According to Cline, a French Egyptologist practicing a hundred years ago came up with the theory that the Sea Peoples were the culprit in the collapse, but Cline contends that this theory is based on fragmentary evidence before any archaeology had been done.

There was drought during this period, and there were earthquakes, both of which contributed to the collapse, but Cline said there were other factors as well. This writer would note that the Federal Reserve would not commence operations until 1914 A.D.

For the uninitiated, Cline explains that bronze in that period was typically composed of 90 percent bronze from Cyprus and 10 percent tin from Afghanistan. This information was recorded on Mari tablets before tablet computers were invented. When the trade routes of the Bronze Age were cut, the stage was set for the advent of the Iron Age, the steel trust and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
During the recent National Book Festival in Washington, Eric Cline, a professor of anthropology and classics and director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University, presented his book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.
Cline, 1177, bronze, collapse
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2014-58-09
Thursday, 09 Oct 2014 07:58 AM
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