Thursday, March 28, 2019 • 6:00 PM

Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library (University of Louisville)

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed

Professor Eric Cline – The George Washington University

For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, 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. 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 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 the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. 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. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end. In this illustrated lecture, based on his book of the same title (1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed; Princeton University Press, 2014) that was considered for a 2015 Pulitzer Prize, awarded the American School of Oriental Research’s 2014 prize for “Best Popular Book on Archaeology,” and is being translated into fourteen foreign languages, Professor Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University 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.

Eric H. Cline
is Professor of Classics, History, and Anthropology in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at The George Washington University and Director of the GWU Capitol Archaeological Institute. He is the AIA's Norton Lecturer for 2018–19.

The Norton Lecture
is named for Charles Eliot Norton, Professor of the History of Art at Harvard University and one of the founders of the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as its first president. The Norton Lectureship is one of the highest honors that the AIA can bestow, and has been held by a series of distinguished scholars since its inception in 1907.

Lectures in Archaeology, 2018–19

Throughout the 2018–19 academic year, the Kentucky Society, in cooperation with the University of Louisville Departments of History and Anthropology, will bring internationally-recognized scholars to the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky campuses to present public lectures about their research. Topics range from the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations of the Mediterranean to the role played by the Rocky Mountains in the peopling of the Americas during the Pleistocene, and from the origins of the Speed Museum’s collection of Roman antiquities to the anthropology of disaster among Native American communities in the northern Great Plains. All talks are free of charge and open to the public. We hope to see you there! 


                                         KENTUCKY SOCIETY

Thursday, February 28, 2019 • 6:00 PM

Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library (University of Louisville)

Boomtown Blues: Archaeologies of Expansion and Collapse in Amazonia

Professor Anna Browne Ribeiro – University of Louisville

Amazonia has a deep and complex history of human habitation marked by political diversity, ancient practices of environmental engineering, and long-distance networks of communication. As we have seen elsewhere in the world, this deep history is marked by cycles of political or economic consolidation and resource control and maximization, and periods of infrastructural collapse and settlement abandonment. In this lecture, Dr. Browne Ribeiro explores some of the major ancient and historic patterns of expansion and contraction of political-economic systems alongside an analysis of resource and land-use strategies. Building on recent findings about environmental shifts and her own ethno-archaeological research, she grapples with the relative successes of late pre-colonial and modern systems of exploitation, and consider these in terms of contemporary risk-management and the future of tropical forests.

Anna Browne Ribeiro is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Louisville.