Choice Reviews

The 12th century BCE is one of the watershed eras of world history. Empires and kingdoms that had dominated late Bronze Age western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean collapsed. This book is the first comprehensive account of this crisis since the publication 36 years ago of N. K. Sandars's The Sea Peoples: Warriors of the Ancient Mediterranean (CH, Oct'78; rev. ed. 1985). After a prologue in which Cline (George Washington Univ.) explains the significance of the year 1177 BCE, four chapters discuss the crisis from its 15th-century BCE origins to its conclusion in the 12th century BCE. A fifth chapter reviews theories proposed by scholars to explain the crisis, while the epilogue describes the new world that emerged out of the wreckage of the Bronze Age political order. One of the highlights of the book is Cline's full and lucid discussion of the new archaeological evidence that has accumulated since Sandar's 1985 publication, including the excavation of shipwrecks and the discovery of texts suggesting a Hittite political context for the Trojan War. Particularly valuable is the author's convincing argument that only a multifactor analysis can account for the end of the Bronze Age. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All university levels/libraries. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. S. M. Burstein emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Library Journal Reviews

The end (14th–12th century BCE) of the Late Bronze Age was a time of international commerce, politics, and war among the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Mycenaean Greeks, the Hittites, and lesser groups. However, over the span of about a hundred years, this ancient brand of globalism fell apart, and the great kingdoms collapsed, giving way to smaller polities and localized economies—the Iron Age. Traditionally, the "Sea Peoples," nomadic tribes scarcely identified in historical or archaeological records, were blamed for the collapse. Many recent historians have looked to other root causes: climate change, earthquakes, or internal rebellions. Cline (classics, George Washington Univ.; The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction) has created an excellent, concise survey of the major players of the time, the latest archaeological developments, and the major arguments, including his own theories, regarding the nature of the collapse that fundamentally altered the area around the Mediterranean and the Near East. He assesses how, when considering the evidence of burnt remains of an ancient city, it is not so simple to determine whether it was from raiders, internal rebellion, or natural disaster. VERDICT This admirable introduction to the study of the era between the glorious past of Egypt (the Great Pyramid was already 1,500 years old) and the rise of Classical Greece (another 750 years away) will be appreciated by both generalists and classics buffs.—Evan M. Anderson, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

Archaeologist Cline (From Eden to Exile) looks at the downfall of the many interconnected civilizations of the Late Bronze Age. This complex, highly organized interplay was sustained for three centuries, and came to an end over a period of approximately 100 years. Cline explores a vast array of variables that could have led to the disruption of the society of this era, including earthquakes, famines, droughts, warfare, and, most notably, invasions by the "Sea Peoples." In some cases, the end was abrupt, but mostly it was highly evolved kingdoms ending not with a bang but a whimper. Cline handles the archeological evidence well, though the narrative drive is lacking. For example, early in the book he refers to the 2011 Arab Spring, making a comparison between those events and similar incidents in ancient times. Unfortunately, he doesn't carry the analogy far enough and the book's storyline suffers. Cline is at his best when he discusses the archives of letters found at Ugarit and Amarna. Much time is spent invoking the Sea Peoples, but the conclusion is that their role was small. Overall, Cline's work appears aimed at those who have more than a passing interest in archeology, as that record bears the heaviest influence on the whole of this story. (Apr.)

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