The AIA Iowa Society Lecture Program: 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Presentation by Eric H. Cline, George Washington University 

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. When the end came, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt, large empires and small kingdoms collapsed rapidly, and, with their end, came the first recorded Dark Ages. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples; however, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was probably not the result of a single invasion, but rather of multiple causes, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — that coalesced to create a “perfect storm.” Professor Eric H. Cline will explore why the Bronze Age came to an end and whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society. 

The Archaeological Institute of American (AIA) Iowa Society Lecture Program is a joint initiative of  the Office of the State Archaeologist, the University of Iowa Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Religion, Art and Art History, the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History, and the Iowa Academy of Science.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Mark Anderson in advance at


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