In 1177 B.C., marauding groups known only as the "Sea Peoples" invaded Egypt. The pharaoh’s army and navy managed to defeat them, but the victory so weakened Egypt that it soon slid into decline, as did most of the surrounding civilizations. After centuries of brilliance, the civilized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economy and cultures of the late second millennium B.C., which had stretched from Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, suddenly ceased to exist, along with writing systems, technology, and monumental architecture. But the Sea Peoples alone could not have caused such widespread breakdown. How did it happen?
In this major new account of the causes of this "First Dark Ages", Eric Cline tells the gripping story of how the end was brought about by multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasion and revolt to earthquakes, drought, and the cutting of international trade routes. Bringing to life the vibrant multicultural world of these great civilizations, he draws a sweeping panorama of the empires and globalized peoples of the Late Bronze Age and shows that it was their very interdependence that hastened their dramatic collapse and ushered in a dark age that lasted centuries.
A compelling combination of narrative and the latest scholarship, 1177 B.C. sheds new light on the complex ties that gave rise to, and ultimately destroyed, the flourishing civilizations of the Late Bronze Age - and that set the stage for the emergence of classical Greece.
©2014 Eric H. Cline. Published by Princeton University Press. (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
I really like what this book is trying to do, and I respect it far more than the two stars indicate. However, the book was very dense and it is easy to get lost in the endless sea of names. Generally, I can just listen to the book multiple times, but with 1177 I still can't quite get into it. What I do complement the book on is for not oversimplifying, what is clearly a complex story. I would far rather not understand a convoluted book than understand completely a false one.
My enjoyment of this book was wrecked by the awful narration. It's sounds as if it was narrated by the Swedish chef from the Muppets. The only way I could make some sense of it was slowing it down to three quarters speed.
"Wanted to Like... And Did!"
I would rank 1177 B.C. in the top ten of my audiobook experiences. My academic training is in Ancient and Medieval History and Political Science, and I've enjoyed it enough to listen to it twice.
Many reviews criticize the prose or the narration, but I think those reviews miss the point. So, too, do the reviews that criticize the lack of scholarly notes/evidence in some areas. This is neither a novel nor a peer-reviewed, journal-level article. If you want the best dramatic readings, get Jim Dale. If you want to pore over notes and evidence, subscribe to the proper journals or get a membership to JSTOR.
However, if you want a coherent and interesting overview of the current state of scholarship regarding the Bronze Age Collapse, if you want an informative primer on that transitional period, this is a great book. It kept me awake and alert across the most boring parts of Wyoming, and added to the formulation of my research questions.
"But it was all going so well....."
What caused the almost simultaneous falls of so many great Bronze Age civilizations? The Minoans, the Hittites, the Trojans, the Babylonians and the Mycenaean Greeks all disappear around 1200 BC. What caused the decline and 2-step-back struggle of surviving Bronze Age civilizations in the Levant and Egypt? Who were these Sea Peoples which the ancient worlds' chroniclers wrote about with such dread?
What was going on?
Why did the world go through an Ancient Dark Age in 1177 BC?
Finally a comprehensive exploration of the current scholarship relating to what in the world was going on in the world around 1200 BC. Eric H. Cline presents the complicated history of the time through a cross-discipline survey of ancient literature, geology, archaeology, biblical scholarship, military accounts and diplomatic correspondence in a way that's well organized and easy to understand.
Great for anyone interested in ancient world history.
The narrator gives some strange accents when reading ancient diplomatic letters. The ancient documents have enough emotional tone on their face and the narrator's performance in these instances detracts from the poignancy.
"The next "Best Popular Book on Archaeology" award?"
In his newest book on the ancient Aegean Professor Eric H Cline, Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages at the George Washington University in Washington DC, USA, transports Everyman in his time machine to the lands surrounding the Ancient Aegean and Mediterranean Seas during the Late Bronze Age.
Once again this active digger and the winner of three “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” Awards (2000, 2009 and 2011) brings archaeology to the public. In “1177 BC. The Year Civilization Collapsed,” he starts off with the enigmatic ‘Sea Peoples’ of which the Philistines of Canaan was part. He recasts them into victims instead of presenting them as the conquerors who overrun the Ancient Aegean and Near East. Sketching a truly and surprisingly situation of flourishing cosmopolitan trade routes and political interaction between important Late Bronze cities, he gives a fresh and important look at this important era. The traditional stance that describes that the ‘Sea Peoples’ invaded and overrun the Ancient Mediterranean and Aegean lands, through conquest and due to their advanced technologies - especially the use of iron is seriously challenged in this book.
Cline spins a web which not only illuminates the mysterious late Bronze Age, but at the same time serves his argument. What I liked most about his book, was how he applied the past and what we learned from it on today. I never thought one could learn much about economy and its pitfalls from the Ancient World. Cline has proved it possible.
The book is the first book in a new series, ‘Turning Points in Ancient History” by Princeton University Press. It consists out of five chapters, each highlighting something that is significant to the Sea Peoples and the year 1177 BC. In the final chapter Cline pulls the strings together in a convincing crescendo.
I wish Audible had a PDF file with the maps and illustrations that you find in the hard copy available. If you use Whispersync, it will probably not matter or if you have bought the hard copy. That said the Audible version of the book is much cheaper than the written word, probably because it comes without illustrations and endnotes.
A last thing, I enjoyed Andy Caploe’s reading of the book. He actually brought some life in hard facts. His pronunciation was generally good.
I cannot say if this book will earn prof. Cline his fourth “Best Popular Book on Archaeology” award, but it definitely could.
"Poor narration kills the experience"
This didn't seem like a bad book. The subject matter is fascinating. Cline's prose wasn't particularly imaginative. He didn't seem to providing a unique or create synthesis of the available evidence - really he just reviewed a few hypotheses and used a middle-ground "they're all true" sort of construction. That's not a terrible structure for a popular audience book aimed at lay people. In fact, it may even be the ideal lay-audience structure.
The real problem with this book was the narration. Oh my god is Caploe terrible. He reads like he's performing story time to the preschool crowd at the local public library, with all sorts of over exaggerated tonal inflections. In an expository reading like this one, it's completely distracting and nearly impossible to follow the prose. I nearly gave up 10 minutes into the book. I stuck through it because the topic is really cool, but I probably absorbed less than half of the material.
I may listen to another Cline book at some point. I will never buy another book narrated by Caploe.
Prior to reading this book I had no idea that the Bronze Age seemingly ended so suddenly. The author presents a number of potential causes, although a strong case for an exact cause is still lacking. Only issue I had was I had hoped to learn more about the "sea peoples" that were referenced by he Egyptians and several other Mediterranean cultures. It is still uncertain who they were or where they came from. It was amazing to see not only the amount of trade that was taking place across the Mediterranean in the 13th Century BC, but also some of the correspondence between rulers and empires.
The Narration was decent, but not great.
This is a major new account of the causes of the “First Dark Ages.” Eric Cline tries to explain how this happened. He describes multiple interconnected failures, ranging from invasions, revolts, to earthquakes, drought and the cutting of international trade routes. Cline is a professor of Classics and anthropology at George Washington University. Cline explains the new archaeological and geological evidence that drought, famine, earthquakes, migration and internal rebellions all contributed to the end of the Bronze Age. Cline is writing for the average reader not the scholar so the book is easy to read.
The author brings to life the vibrant multicultural world of the great civilizations (Minions, Mycenaean, Trojans, Hittites, Babylonians, and Egyptian). The thriving economy, culture of the late second millennium B. C. from Greece to Egypt suddenly ceased to exist, along with the writing systems, technology and architectures.
The description, Cline presents in his book resemble our own today. And if you take into account the new NASA funded study, warning of the possibility for an irreversible collapse of our industrial civilization in just a few decades this book is relevant for us today. History may be repeating itself, making it an interesting time to be living. Andy Capole did a fair job narrating the book. If you are interested in history this is an interesting book for you to read.
"Not a Storyteller"
Someone with purely academic interests who wants all the supporting information listed.
Put the supporting information in end notes. Don't put the end notes in the audiobook.
Inflections often did not match the meaning of the sentence.
The book does not create a sense of a single defining moment, quite the opposite. Which is fine, but that's not what it seems like from the title and description. The book is dry with lots of lists, and is repetitive because it's not organized well.
"Wanted to enjoy but..."
I couldn't get focused or interested in this book at all, perhaps it was because the narrator was so bad or I had different expectations. I couldn't even finish listening and that rarely happens to me.
"Interesting but scattered; poor narration"
This is a time period I don't know much about, so I've enjoyed learning more about the cultures and interactions that were going on at the time. However, it could have used a stronger editing hand, I think; it's repetitive (how many times do you need to tell us that "Keftiu" means "Crete" in Egyptian?), and often feels somewhat patched together from a variety of different stories. Also, there seem to be a lot of "it could be argued..." or "one might conclude..." statements around issues that even the author acknowledges are controversial, without really providing a lot of support.
The real problem with this book, however, is -- as others have said -- the narration. Andy Caploe reads the book in an over-excited, overly dramatic way that is very distracting.
The most interesting aspect is simply exploring an area of history I know little about. The least interesting is the rehashing of information already offered.
Not for a nonfiction book such as this; his approach distracts from, rather than enhances, the material.
Yes, though I am unlikely to choose another book by the same author or narrator.
A very thorough and expansive analysis of the theories and factors that led to the collapse of civilization in the late Bronze Age. This not my field of study but I found it fascinating.
"Brilliant book: shame about the narrator."
Notwithstanding the poor narration, this audiobook takes pride of place in my Ancient History collection.
Prof. Cline has satisfactorily resolved the issue of the Sea People.
He reads this work as if it were a 'Gangster' novelette. He unnecessarily over-emphasizes words, and I found that I was listening to the delivery rather than the content.
No, because I would carry out further research, after each section. This however was my choice.
It is a great pity that Prof. Cline was not allowed to read this work, himself. He is a great lecturer, (see the Great Courses on Audible) and would immediately engage and hold the listener. I shall buy the book.
"Entertaining and Thought Provoking"
1177 B.C. strikes a fine balance between telling a story and acknowledging the extent to which gaps in the evidence make it difficult to speak write with certainty about the ancient world. A personal problem with histories covering this period is that they can either be a bit too dry to appeal to the general reader; focusing on tussles between academics at the cost of maintaining the reader's interest; or they gloss over the fact that historians are working with partial documents in dead languages and fragmentary archaeological evidence which evokes a suspicion that they're offering a superficial summary. Eric Cline hits a real sweet spot in acknowledging the uncertainties while maintaining a gripping narrative drive as he describes Bronze Age civilization; charts its destabilization and draws lessons about how our own world parallels many of the factors that lead to the 1177 BC collapse. After one listen it's gone straight back to the beginning for a second time. Highly recommended for history fans
"Trying to squeeze too much from too little"
No - none of my friends would find this remotely interesting.
Pretty average, slightly dull tone.
I found this quite underwhelming. I was hoping for an overview of pre-collapse history in the western Mediterranean cultures followed by a discussion of the events that occurred during and after, as well as the effects of the collapse on cultural development in the area and changes in the major political entities. Instead there was far too much methodological discussion - not really that relevant or interesting for the intended audience. Pity.
A bit impenetrable and difficult to get into. Probably would work better actually reading the book without distractions
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