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Cline's key point is based on the contradictions that contributed to civilization's demise, putting the Late Bronze Age to an end. He outlines compelling points regarding the destruction of civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the last decades of the 12th century B.C. The cessation of the Bronze Age contributed, among others, to losses that marked major state dissolution, abandonment of empires, destruction, and demographic decline. Cline tells a gripping tale about how intertwined setbacks ranging from famine, conquest, and foreign trade culminated in the end of the Late Bronze Period. He sketches a sweeping panorama of globalization and shows how multiple variables have contributed to globalization. Blending the compelling combinations of narratives and evidence, Cline succeeded in shedding a new light on the complexities that drove the destruction of flourished civilization in his arguments.
Causes that Led to the Collapse of Civilization in the Late Bronze Age
Cline postulates globalization saturated the all the spheres of trade in the Late Bronze Age and it is the reason for the collapse. At first, the aspects of commodity exchange and communication were regional and not global. However, the onset of globalization brought impacts which could be traced in the scattered layers of archeological digs, at the beginning of the 12th century, a real cosmopolitanism came into effect and at the same time networks of economic influence did encourage market transactions which became a major driver of globalization in the Bronze Age.
Cline addresses a number of factors that led to the collapse of the civilization which includes failure of international trade, internal rebellions, climatic changes, the “Seas People”, and earthquakes. All these factors culminated in widespread destructions and fall of empires. Trade and diplomacy led to disasters in international trade routes. Caravans and ships did transport precious stones, raw materials gold and metals globally stretching from Persian Plateau to Greece and from Dardanelles to Sudan. Mercantile interactions were often attached to diplomatic goals . The Amarna chives together with other documentations describe the many interchanges of gifts and tribute done and the Bronze Age as represented by Cline was a golden age of internationalization process coupled with sustainable relations of merchant diplomacies which later collapsed civilization . The scale of trade fragmented the Bronze Age and the book makes a strong claim to the global world being linked to the collapse of civilization.
Cline offers a more explanation of the changes in the climatic conditions of the Sea People as a catastrophic force that led to the end of civilization during the Bronze Age. Climate change, fires, earthquakes, internal uprisings and famine catastrophic disasters clearly defined the collapse of civilization. Cline states that “although the earthquakes undoubtedly caused severe damage, it is unlikely that they alone were sufficient to cause a complete collapse of society” . The destructions that were done on a number of coastal cities and greater inland destructions of the empires intensely emanated from climatic tragic changes and instigating demise of the empires. Furthermore, there was an overall breakdown of the society and culture which caused the collapse of civilization.
Evidences Used in Support of Cline’s Argument
Cline report notable discoveries of evidence from the end decade of Ugarit specifically the cache letters that were wrote by Urtenu who was an Ugaritic merchant. The merchant had contacts of that comprised the entire Eastern Mediterranean which seemed to have still been in use until the end of the Late Bronze Age. In two letters of the businessman recovered by Cline, they could be traced to “Hiyawa” which he identifies them with the Hittite Hhiyawa and Achaiwoi . The letters disclosure provide a strong support to Cline’s argument which led to catastrophic encroachment and destructions of trade. Individuals did not realize that the world was out of order and Cline did observe similar patterns in Hittite Anatolia where the empire abruptly came to a halt overnight. Signs of violent destructions are reported to have existed at the imperial capital of Hittusas which was later abandoned .
Besides, Cine cites the refugees who came from Pylos to Athens after the Trojan War as an evidence to his argument. He states the discovery of refugee shanty town used during the time. The breakdown of tin schedules in the central areas, destruction of the important harbor, crop failure, and piracy factors that were evident are all strong evidence that instigated the general crisis and became widespread to an extent of causing collapse of the civilization. It is logic to reason that in an economy that is highly interconnected and characterized with specialization, the patterns of commerce have implications to the society. Tiryns were trading the city but later became pirates after the breakdown of commerce.
The climate change argument postulated by Cline in his book is well illustrated by the plausible evidence of earthquake storm which he described as “Perfect Storm” experienced in the Eastern Mediterranean region causing the collapse of civilization . In the book, he indeed notes series of earthquakes that struck the Aegean, Greece and Eastern Mediterranean people. The earthquakes, as Diamond indicates began in 1225 B.C, lasted for 50 years and ended 1175B.C. This climatic catastrophe distressed the walls of Tiryns and Mycenae and many of the overwhelming damages were not repaired . There are a lot of evidence that cline relates to the issue of climate change including famine and drought experienced in Eastern Mediterranean. There were texts written that plainly point to the destructions caused by famine and a crying demand for grains in the Empire of Hittite and many other places at the end of the late Bronze Age. A good reference made by the author is the complaining letter from Suppiluliuma II which was directed at the shipment of 2000 units of barley to offset the famine predicament that had strong hit the area.
Braudel, Fernand. 1972. The Mediterranean And The Mediterranean World The Age. 1st ed. New York: Harper & Row.
Cline, Eric H. 2015. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. 1st ed. Paris: Princeton University Press.
Diamond, Jared M. 2005. Collapse. 1st ed. New York: Viking.
Drews, Robert. 1993. The End Of The Bronze Age. 1st ed. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
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