Profs and Pints DC presents: “The Year Civilization Collapsed,” on widespread disaster and upheaval at the end of the Bronze Age, with Eric H. Cline, professor of classics and anthropology at George Washington University.
Could a globalized, complex, international world system collapse suddenly, without previous warning?
Many are worried that it could happen. Few realize that it already occurred before.
Such an apocalyptic disaster struck the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions in 1177 BC, just a little more than three thousand years ago. In a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east, large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly after having taken centuries to evolve. Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all either disappeared entirely or had to transform rapidly to survive.
Come hear a discussion of why the Bronze Age came to a terrible end from Professor Eric Cline, author of 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed, a book that was considered for a 2015 Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into sixteen languages, and has now been updated, with a revised edition appearing in 2021.
In an encore of a fantastic talk last given before the pandemic, Dr, Cline will discuss how blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of invading Sea Peoples, a mysterious population known to us mainly from Egyptian records. As he’ll make clear, however, the collapse may not have been the result of a single invasion, but rather of multiple causes, with potential culprits including earthquakes, storms, climate change, droughts, famine, rebellions, and systems collapse.
The world's first recorded Dark Ages followed. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today.
Among the questions Dr. Cline will tackle: Might the collapse of those ancient civilizations hold some warnings for our current society? Since it has happened before, could it happen again? (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)
Image: "The Course of Empire: Destruction," an 1836 painting by Thomas Cole.