Standard of Alaca Höyük called ”sun slice,“ Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara
For more than 300 years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 B.C. until just after 1200 B.C., the Mediterranean region was the stage on which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, Trojans, and Canaanites interacted, creating a cosmopolitan world system that has only rarely been seen before the current day.
It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, as it did in 1177 B.C. after centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt 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 that had taken centuries to evolve collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today.
Eric Cline, author of 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed and a professor of classics, history, and anthropology at George Washington University, surveys a dramatic period of achievement, upheaval, and collapse as he draws on the most recently available data on the Late Bronze Age civilizations of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. He discusses aspects of the research that suggests there was an ongoing megadrought, a catastrophe with far-reaching consequences. Much like today’s COVID-19 pandemic, it exposed a vulnerability of societies to forces of nature and reminds us of the fragility of our own world.