The 2,491st Meeting of the Society

March 8, 2024 at 8:00 PM

Powell Auditorium at the Cosmos Club

The Survival of Civilizations

After 1177 BCE

Eric Cline

Professor of History, Classics, and Anthropology
Director, GWU Capital Archaeological Institute
George Washington University

Sponsored by PSW Science Member Edward Gadasu


About the Lecture

In the years after 1177 BCE, many of the Late Bronze Age civilizations of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean lay in ruins, undone by invasion, revolt, natural disasters, famine, and the demise of international trade. An interconnected world that had boasted major empires and societies, relative peace, robust commerce, and monumental architecture was lost. This lecture will trace the compelling story of what happened during the four centuries after 1177 BCE, across the wide swath of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean world. It is a story of resilience, transformation, and success, as well as failures, in an age of chaos and reconfiguration. Those that failed to adjust disappeared from the world stage, while others transformed themselves, resulting in a new world order that included Israelites, Philistines, Phoenicians, Neo-Hittites, Neo-Assyrians, Neo-Babylonians, and world-changing innovations such as the use of iron and standardization of the alphabet. It is now clear that this period, far from being the First Dark Age, was a new age with new inventions, new opportunities, and lessons for today.

About the Speaker

Eric H. Cline is Professor of Classics, History, and Anthropology and Director of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at the George Washington University. He is also former Chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations there. Eric is a National Geographic Explorer, NEH Public Scholar, Getty Scholar, and Fulbright Scholar.

Eric is an active field archaeologist with more than 30 seasons of excavation and survey experience in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Crete, and the United States, including ten seasons at Megiddo (1994-2014), where he served as co-director before retiring from the project in 2014, and another ten seasons at Tel Kabri, where he currently serves as Co-Director. He is the author or editor of 20 books and nearly 100 articles; translations of his books have appeared in nineteen different languages. Among them are Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology; Digging Deeper: How Archaeology Works; 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed and (with Glynnis Fawkes) 1177 BC: A Graphic History of the Year Civilization Collapsed; and After 1177 BC: The Survival of Civilizations (all Princeton).

Eric earned an AB in Classical Archaeology with Anthropology at Dartmouth and an MA in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures at Yale. He studied at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and then went on to earn a PhD in Ancient History at U Penn. Eric is also the recipient of an honorary PhD from Muhlenberg College.