My book 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed just came out and has been a trending bestseller on Amazon. You can find it there in hardback, kindle, and audible editions: .

I am Eric H. Cline, a professor of Classics and Anthropology at The George Washington University, in Washington DC. I am a Fulbright scholar and National Geographic Explorer, with degrees in Classical Archaeology (BA, Dartmouth), Near Eastern Archaeology (MA, Yale), and Ancient History (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania).

I am an active field archaeologist who has worked in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Crete, and the United States for 30 seasons since 1980. I am currently Co-Director of two excavations in Israel: Megiddo (biblical Armageddon) and Tel Kabri. We dig at one or the other every summer; this summer we will be at Armageddon (and we still have a few openings:

I have also written books about the Trojan War and about biblical archaeology, in particular answering the seven questions that I am most frequently asked, including where is Noah’s Ark, where is the Ark of the Convenant, where are the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, etc; you can also find those on Amazon. This is my page on Amazon, with all the links: .


EDIT: Thanks to all for participating!

FINAL EDIT (5/23; 12:50 PM EST): That's all, folks! I have to start getting ready to excavate at Megiddo (biblical Armageddon) and have to finish up departmental paperwork before I do, so I've got to stop responding to comments at this point. If there is interest, I'd be happy to hold another AMA at some point in the near future, perhaps later in the summer after I get back from the dig. In the meantime, thanks to all of you for your comments!

Comments: 149 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

Alot_Hunter18 karma

Dr. Cline, two questions for you. First, why did I only get a 75 out of 77 on my final paper for your Troy and the Trojan War class? That was a hell of a paper!

Second, could you speak on the discovery of the "lost" dynasty of pharaohs at Abydos? Realistically speaking, does this discovery change the study of Egyptology significantly, or is it more important because it vindicates archaeologists who had theorized the existence of this dynasty?

ehcline15 karma

First, I have very high expectations for you, grasshopper. It was a hell of a paper, though; I'll grant you that! Secondly, the new discovery of the pharaohs at Abydos by Josef Wegner and his team from UPenn is extremely exciting. It is important not only because it vindicates previous theories but expands our knowledge of ancient Egypt, in terms of adding in a "missing" dynasty during the middle of the second millennium BC. See .

Alot_Hunter6 karma

Another question, on a bit of a different track: why was Linear B primarily used for accounting purposes and not much else, while other Bronze Age writing systems like cuneiform, Luwian, demotic, hieroglyphics, etc. were used in much more developed, complex ways?

ehcline10 karma

An excellent question. I would expect no less from you, grasshopper.

puddinggreg10 karma

Not one of your students here:

In what you've studied, what's the most interesting reason/way that a civilization collapsed? Is there anything in the story of that collapse that you think that we could take a lesson from today?

ehcline10 karma

I've only studied the Late Bronze Age collapse, but in my view all of the civilizations were interlinked and so I argue that there a lot of interesting reasons/ways to suggest what brought down the civilizations, ranging from climate change, drought, famine, earthquakes, internal rebellions, etc. There may or may not be lessons that we can learn; some people reading my book are intrigued by the fact that there is evidence for climate change back then, just before/as the civilizations were collapsing.

EDIT: for grammar

jjkalt18 karma

Hi. I will be an incoming freshman at GWU next year at the Elliot school. Thanks for answering I was wondering if there is any archeological evidence to the Trojan horse thanks and raise high the buff and blue

ehcline10 karma

There is no archaeological evidence for the Trojan horse, but it may be a metaphor for the earthquake that destroyed Troy VI. I discuss it in my little book published by Oxford on the Trojan War: And, stop by after you get to GW in the Fall to say "hi"!

EDIT: first point addressed.

Lenquo6 karma

What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you/your group during an excavation?

ehcline28 karma

The most exciting thing is the wine cellar that we found last summer at Tel Kabri, a Canaanite site in what is now northern Israel, that dates back 3700 years ago. It is the oldest and largest wine cellar ever found from the ancient Near East. Here are the details: within a storeroom in the palace, we found forty jars that had once contained wine, most red and some white. The wine is long gone, but residue remained in the fabric of the jars and Andrew Koh, of Brandeis University, was able to determine what they had once contained. They held the equivalent of 2,000 liters of wine, which would be about 3, 000 of our bottles today. There is at least one more room full of more jars, which we will excavate when we return during the summer of 2015. Our find was widely reported, including in the NY Times. Here is the link to the story: .

Drapetomania2 karma

What kind of monster would forget and leave behind so much wine?

ehcline12 karma

Probably one who didn't have much of a choice... :-)

PartyOnAlec6 karma

First of all - welcome to reddit!

I have a few questions:

  1. What is an event in your area of history that is incredible, yet inexplicably unknown?
  2. Aside from getting it confused with paleontology, what do you feel is the biggest misconception about archaeologists?
  3. Do remember this? Because I do, and it was awesome.

ehcline11 karma

Hi Alec! Great pic! I remember like it was yesterday....ok, like it was 2012! I'm actually amazed at how few people know that the Bronze Age was so amazing and then collapsed so entirely. I had no idea how little know this was outside my field until I started getting feedback after the book was published. As for the biggest misconception about archaeologists, it has to be that we aren't all like Indiana Jones! I did have a whip once, but it broke...The other big misconception is whether or not we get to "keep" the stuff that we find...and they are always surprised when I tell them that we don't get to keep it. But remember — it belongs in a museum!

CreamSoda646 karma

What would you suggest an undergrad interested in archaeological fieldwork do to in order to participate in some of these excavations?

ehcline8 karma

Just go on a dig. They all need volunteers and you can get college credit for working on most of them, though you'll have to pay for room and board, as well as perhaps a tuition fee. If you are having trouble finding one, go to the Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin published online by the Archaeological Institute of America: They have a list of virtually all the digs going on world-wide, with all of the details and contact information.

tyn_peddler5 karma

What's your opinion on the hypothesis that changes in warfare helped cause the bronze age collapse? Is there any reason why the bronze age civilizations didn't adopt the new weapons and methods of warfare that they were being wiped out with? If you don't think changes in warfare drove the collapse, why was there such a change in weaponry during this period? What is the significance of the year 1177?

Sorry for all the question, but I find the bronze age collapse one of the most interesting mysteries in all of history. Besides your book, are there any others you would suggest on this topic?

ehcline3 karma

It sounds, from your question, like you've already read Robert Drews' book on the end of the Bronze Age, because he is the one that suggested that changes in warfare helped cause the Bronze Age collapse. If you haven't read it, you'll want to start there. I personally don't think that changes in warfare drove the collapse, because I don't see the evidence for new types of weapons or new types of warfare at the time. However, after the Collapse we see a change to iron, which may have been because access to tin and copper had been cut off or severely curtailed. Of course, they are already using iron during the Bronze Age and they continue to use bronze during the Iron Age, but it's a matter of preference and proliferation, perhaps as much as access. As for the significance of the year 1177 BC, see my response to the comment made by /u/MHQmag.

MHQmag5 karma

Dr. Cline, The title of your book is very intriguing. Can you explain the significance of this year and how you pinpointed 1177 B.C. as the year that Bronze Age Civilization collapsed?

ehcline10 karma

Thanks for a great question. Let me simply quote from my book by way of answering (hoping that the formatting doesn't go wonky on us):

the end of the Late Bronze Age in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean regions, an area that extended from Italy and Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, was a fluid event, taking place over the course of several decades and perhaps even up to a century, not an occurrence tied to a specific year. But the eighth year of the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses III—1177 BC, to be specific, according to the chronology currently used by most modern Egyptologists—stands out and is the most representative of the entire collapse. For it was in that year, according to the Egyptian records, that the Sea Peoples came sweeping through the region, wreaking havoc for a second time. It was a year when great land and sea battles were fought in the Nile delta; a year when Egypt struggled for its very survival; a year by which time some of the high-flying civilizations of the Bronze Age had already come to a crashing halt. In fact, one might argue that 1177 BC is to the end of the Late Bronze Age as AD 476 is to the end of Rome and the western Roman Empire. That is to say, both are dates to which modern scholars can conveniently point as the end of a major era. Italy was invaded and Rome was sacked several times during the fifth century AD, including in AD 410 by Alaric and the Visigoths and in AD 455 by Geiseric and the Vandals. There were also many other reasons why Rome fell, in addition to these attacks, and the story is much more complex, as any Roman historian will readily attest. However, it is convenient, and considered acceptable academic shorthand, to link the invasion by Odoacer and the Ostragoths in AD 476 with the end of Rome’s glory days. The end of the Late Bronze Age and the transition to the Iron Age is a similar case, insofar as the collapse and transition was a rolling event, taking place between approximately 1225 and 1175 BC or, in some places, as late as 1130 BC. However, the second invasion by the Sea Peoples, ending in their cataclysmic fight against the Egyptians under Ramses III during the eighth year of his reign, in 1177 BC, is a reasonable benchmark and allows us to put a finite date on a rather elusive pivotal moment and the end of an age. We can say with certainty that the far-reaching civilizations that were still flourishing in the Aegean and the ancient Near East in 1225 BC had begun to vanish by 1177 BC and were almost completely gone by 1130 BC. The mighty Bronze Age kingdoms and empires were gradually replaced by smaller city-states during the following Early Iron Age. Consequently, our picture of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern world of 1200 BC is quite different from that of 1100 BC and completely different from that of 1000 BC.

EDIT: formatting

hello_sweetie_5 karma

Cline! Rachel B here- told you I'd stop by. My question: If you could make sure everyone in the world knew one thing about the Ancient Near East/Egypt, what would it be?

ehcline36 karma

Hi Rachel — thanks for stopping by! The one thing that everyone in the world should know about the ancient Near East/Egypt is that aliens did not build the pyramids.

monkey_man_3 karma


ehcline5 karma

The same way any large building project is completed, then and now. I personally like the idea of a ramp being built around the pyramid as it went up, so that they could pull the blocks around and then lift them into place at the last moment...and then take the ramp apart after the pyramid was finished. But, there's no real proof for anything still, hence the great debate still rages on...

blarghusmaximus5 karma

Is there any non-biblical references that indicate Jesus did actually exist as a person? Ignoring the question of whether he was a deity.

Is there any evidence the jews actually wandered the desert for fourty years?

ehcline3 karma

No. And, no. But, archaeologists turn up new things every year, so that situation could change any time.

greenlightgo4 karma

What's your favorite thing about teaching at GW? (Go Colonials!)

ehcline5 karma

The students, of course! (Raise High the Buff and Blue!)

InHocSig3 karma

This might have little to do with your practice in general, but can you explain how you were selected as a Fulbright scholar, how'd you liked it, and how it has helped to get you to where you are in your career? It is something I'm soon applying for.

ehcline2 karma

There are, as you probably know, different types of Fulbrights. I was on one which was a graduate student dissertation research fellowship attached specifically to the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. I was nominated through my university and I absolutely loved it! It was invaluable to my career and I would strongly urge you to definitely apply!

troublemuffin3 karma

What would you suggest to someone planning on taking your archaeology course next semester?

ehcline2 karma

In the course itself, be prepared to enjoy yourself and to learn a lot about how to do archaeology as well as some of the fascinating sites from around the world. If you're asking what you can do beforehand to get ready, see if there is a local dig in your area or a museum where you can be a volunteer. See you in the Fall and be sure to introduce yourself on the first day!

YouStayClassyReddit3 karma


ehcline5 karma

I am a cat person, I'm afraid (see,AS0TnJm#0 for one of our two cats —he's the one on the left). Does Knapp have a cat?

dlrfsu3 karma

Some fields of study, like astronomy, are using the increased capabilities of home computers and the internet to allow amateurs to help in serious research projects. Are there any projects like that in archaeology for those of us unable to get our hands in the dirt?

ehcline3 karma

In terms of crowdsourcing, which is what I think you are talking about, there are a number of projects in which you can get involved. For a few ideas, see the blog that my wife, Diane Cline, just published: . Or you can go to or to start "digging in"...

yakovgolyadkin3 karma

You mention that you've worked as an archaeologist in Cyprus. Have you ever worked with Dr. Sarah Costello? More of a personal question than anything else. She's a former professor and good friend of mine and she's worked as an archaeologist in Cyprus, and other areas in the eastern Mediterranean for years.

ehcline5 karma

We are colleagues and see each other at the annual ASOR meetings (American Schools of Oriental Research). I don't think that we've actually been on the same dig together ever, though, if my memory serves me correctly.

i_eat_catnip3 karma

Do you ever worry that by excavating NOW that you're screwing future archaeologists who will undoubtedly have better technology and techniques than we do now? That there are ways they'll be able to get into muddy rock slab tombs in ways that will be way less intrusive and damaging to whatever little evidence exists in there? I was just watching "BBC Stories from the Dark Earth" with archaeologist Julian Richards, and in one scene they're about to finally crawl into the hole in the ground, when the ramshackle tarp they had above it, pooled up with rainwater, emptied its contents into the tomb. I thought "idiots" and the thought I proposed above came to mind.

Again, to reiterate my rambling, is it a topic of conversation that we should hold off a bit longer on these digs until we develop some sort of weird 3D scanning nano-digging something or other that excavates entire sites better?

ehcline6 karma

You have a good point. The way that most of us approach it now is by leaving a portion of whatever we are excavating untouched, so that future archaeologists who will have better equipment can dig that part and, hopefully, double-check our results. It is rare for an archaeologist to excavate 100% of something these days, for exactly that reason.

whovianjest2 karma


ehcline4 karma

When you're just starting out, I recommend that you focus on just publishing in academic journals, so that you are taken seriously at the beginning of your career. But, also start a blog and use twitter to begin to get your name out there and speak directly to the interested public. I personally did not start writing for the general public until my academic credentials were already firmly established...and even now I am careful to try to publish two scholarly articles for every one popularizing piece that I publish.

edefran2 karma

Hi, Dr. Cline! Had a great time traveling in Greece with you and Mme. Dr. Prof. Cline. I have several questions regarding the life of an academic: is it very difficult to establish oneself in the field? What would be your advice for students who wish to pursue Ph.D.s in classics, archaeology, ancient history, etc.? What is it like having two professors in one home? Any dinner table arguments over the veracity of the Trojan Horse?

ehcline2 karma

Hi Evan! Thanks for joining! Yes, it can be difficult to establish oneself in one's chosen field, but if you have interesting ideas, publish in respected journals, and give lots of conference papers, you can essentially burst onto the scene and establish yourself fairly quickly, given the proper circumstances. My advice would be to stick with it and follow your passion; do not give up too readily even if the going gets tough. There are not many jobs out there, but someone's got to get them! Having two professors in one home can lead to interesting discussions, not least over the veracity of the Trojan Horse! It was tough for us starting out as a dual-academic couple, but things are getting much better these days for all concerned, as such couples are almost the norm now, so the Deans and Universities are learning to deal with it better. You might, though, ask our kids what it was like to have two nerds, I mean two archaeologists/ancient historians, for parents...

kippypapa2 karma

Besides going on excavations, what's the difference between an historian and an archaeologist?

ehcline3 karma

As you point out, an archaeologist physically digs the stuff up; a historian may or may not do so, though most of them don't go digging. However, I consider myself both an archaeologist and an ancient historian, because I like to excavate but also to ask and answer historical questions based on the texts as well as the material culture. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to tell the difference as the two fields frequently overlap, especially when it comes to ancient history.

CaribKaraoke2 karma

What's interesting about this AMA is that you didn't get any real in depth questions about biblical archaeology. On reddit and it's cousin imgur , countless people bash the bible. Here you had a subject matter expert but no one asked questions on one reddits most discussed topics. I'm no expert, but biblical archaeology and history fascinates me. It's plain to see that any real research done has ended up proving the cities, people and events existed. The bible seems to be way more accurate than any history book I was taught that told me Columbus discovered America but failed to tell me who discovered Europe. Research on Jesus only leads to the conclusion that he existed, had a lot of people follow him, and had lots of people say he was God. The only question was "was he a mad man, an incredibly motivating and lying con artist, or was he telling the truth.

Tl:dr reddit, you should have asked challenging questions on the bible from an expert

ehcline3 karma

To be honest, I was really surprised that I didn't get any questions about biblical archaeology until near the end of the AMA. I thought that I would be inundated with questions about Noah's Ark, etc. But I wasn't. I am going to recommend to my good friend and colleague Bob Cargill, who teaches at the University of Iowa, that he should do an AMA, specifically on the Bible and biblical archaeology. I think it would be interesting for all concerned.

zaurefirem2 karma

No questions -- I just got linked to this from (one of?) your kid's Facebook.

Actually, I lied. What's the coolest thing you've found at a dig, and what tips do you have for someone wanting to study history? Medieval English, specifically.

ehcline1 karma

Coolest thing, besides the wine cellar that I wrote about in another response, was a little bronze statue of the Greek god Pan. I found it at the Greco-Roman site now called Tel Anafa, in northern Israel, on the very first excavation that I went on, when I was a sophomore in college. It's now in a museum in Israel. No tips about studying medieval English, I'm afraid; too recent for me. :-)

zaurefirem1 karma

That is a pretty cool thing! Was it also your first artifact?

ehcline1 karma


corneliusofdark2 karma

Do you happen to know any scholarship grants for those interested in archaeology?

ehcline3 karma

If you mean grants to help pay for participating in excavations, the Biblical Archaeology Society gives grants every year to dig in places like Israel and Jordan ( The Archaeological Institute of America also gives scholarships to students who haven't been on a dig before (

DonaldMcRonald2 karma

Where is Noah's Ark?

ehcline5 karma

Thanks for asking; I was afraid nobody would. But, I have no idea and neither does anyone else, despite what they might claim. The Bible says that it landed on the "mountains of Ararat" (plural), which would be in the region of ancient Urartu, i.e., towards modern Iran. However, the earlier Flood stories, including the Epic of Gilgamesh, say that the Ark landed on Mt. Nisir and we don't know where that is. Suffice it to say, I don't think that it will ever be found. See my book From Eden to Exile for more information.

Syiavri2 karma

Hopefully I am not too late. Hi Dr. Cline.. My dad is an anthropologist (His field is Physical Anthropology) and through his interest, I had my official schooling in Cultural anthropology (and then my minions were born and I stopped to take care of them, I am hoping to return once they start going to school) , my question to you is what drew you to biblical anthropology, or even the field itself? What is one thing that you think people should take away from your work?

ehcline1 karma

My mother gave me a book when I was seven years old. It was a biography of Heinrich Schliemann, the excavator of Troy, written for children. After reading it, I announced that I was going to be an archaeologist. And that was that. One thing that people could take away from my work is just how fascinating the ancient world is and yet how similar to us they were in many ways. Some things just don't change much, including human relationships, whether you're living now or in ancient Mesopotamia.

Srcc2 karma

Just finished your book and found it really enthralling. I know what a lot of scientists are reluctant to write for regular people, and when they do it's often read by at best 10 people. Kudos on your success!

What do you think the biggest change in archaeological theory has been in the last ten years? Thanks!

ehcline2 karma

Thanks for the kind words. Re archaeological theory, it really depends to a certain extent about what part of the world you are talking about. In the region in which I work, i.e., the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean (Near East), I think probably entanglement, materiality, actor network theory, creolization, hybridization, and network analysis are still the newest hot topics, though some have their roots earlier than ten years ago and in other fields. Most of the time these ideas begin in other disciplines and it takes a while for us to experiment and adopt them.

poolsloth2 karma

Have you done any archeological work in the DC area? Obviously a totally different time period than the Bronze Age, but still a lot of history there

ehcline2 karma

No, I haven't. And yes there is!

EoghainMacSearraigh1 karma


ehcline2 karma

Lots of talk today about climate change, of course, which may have some similarities to what we see at the end of the Late Bronze Age. I may have something more to say about this soon, since this seems to be a topic of interest to many who are reading my new book, so stay tuned!

wizard_of_0z1 karma

Dr. Cline, I did the Megiddo 2010 Expedition with you and had a fantastic time! However, I got into it through Matt Adams and he just handed me a bunch of papers to sign and told me where to show up. Where can people sign up for it and what's the selection process, if any?

Also I can't wait to read your new book on the beach this summer! You're the man!

ehcline3 karma

Here is the website: . The link to the application and the details are in the lefthand column. The selection process varies, but is primarily dependent upon your interest! There is still some room this season, if you are want to come back! You'd be welcome. Generally people start thinking about this in February or March, so if you cannot make it this year, you can come with us to Tel Kabri next summer and help us find the rest of the storerooms, perhaps with more jars of wine!

ManicMarine1 karma

Prof Cline, are there many examples of Bronze Age scripts which we have a lot of extant records of but have no way of reading? If so, what language do you most desire to find a Rosetta Stone for?

ehcline2 karma

Yes, Linear A has not yet been deciphered — see Also, Cypro-Minoan has not yet been deciphered. It would be great if we could find a "Rosetta Stone" for either one...

revengeoftheaborted1 karma

What are your thoughts on Jesus?

ehcline17 karma

He was a nice Jewish boy.

stealthghandi1 karma

Looks good, I ordered a copy and now there's only 11 left.

Also, a question: Was Canaanite religion still active right up until Islam came in the 7th century? Were people still worshiping Ba'al and El and Asherat and so on?

ehcline2 karma

Nope. Canaanite religion, as far as we can tell, was completely gone by the middle of the first millennium BC, if not much earlier, along with the Canaanites themselves.

stealthghandi1 karma

Thanks for replying. Is there literature you can point me to regarding this decline?

ehcline4 karma

You might enjoy reading some of the things that Mark Smith has written; for instance . Also a scholarly volume with bibliography might be of interest, written by one of the giants in the field: Frank Moore Cross of Harvard — .

magmagmagmag1 karma

Hi sir,

What makes a civilization ? How do they start, how can we separate them ?

Is war the main reason of the fall of civilization ?

ehcline2 karma

All civilizations are different, of course, but I always tell my students that you need a few major things to start a civilization, including water, food, cities/towns, writing and a new invention — such as putting copper and tin together to make bronze. That is why, for instance, "civilization" as we would define it begins in the region of Mesopotamia at about 3,000 BC, because that's when all of the above came together in one place. Interestingly, "civilization" begins in Egypt at almost the same time and for approximately the same reasons. But, it's different in different places. Same thing for their fall and collapse — there is no one main reason. War is just one of the ways that civilizations can be brought down. I would suggest reading Jared Diamond's book Collapse, if you haven't done so already.

iorgfeflkd1 karma

How important were the kingdoms of Judah and Israel in regional politics back then? Were they like Belgium and the Netherlands to 1914's France and Germany?

ehcline1 karma

They seem to have been quite important, if the inscriptions left by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian rulers from the first half of the first millennium BC are any indication.

MrIvysaur1 karma

The people who invaded the east Mediterranean in around 1200 BCE and started the Dark Age...who were they? Why were they able to crush so many civilizations on their way east, and what made them migrate?

ehcline2 karma

That's what my whole book is about — 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed. Rather than just repeating everything here, I'm going to take the path of less resistance and just suggest that you read the book and then get back to me with specific questions after that. Happy to answer then.

MrIvysaur-2 karma

But I don't want to buy the book...

ehcline6 karma

Then check it out of your local library.

nuprinboy1 karma

Have you ever been asked to provide video commentary on a "documentary" only for the producers to not air your comments because they wanted more pseudoscience for better ratings? Perhaps they read only the title of your biblical archaeology book and did not realize your skepticism?

In the intro to From Eden To Exile, you mention that biblical archaeology matters to political and religious authorities. Has your research or writings been attacked by those might prefer their worldviews to be reinforced rather than questioned?

Care to give any examples?

ehcline4 karma

All the time. The funniest, perhaps, was when Fox News asked me appear live and discuss the "discovery" of Noah's Ark a few years ago. Imagine their surprise when I stated on air that it was probably a hoax, or at least that I was very skeptical. Here's a clip:

EDIT: to answer the second comment, which was added later — Yes, my research and writings have been attacked, but primarily only in blogs posted on the internet by people who, as you put it, prefer their world views or, more usually, their religious views, to be reinforced rather than questioned. The book that you mention, From Eden to Exile, has borne the brunt of such attacks, though my short introduction to Biblical Archaeology has also come in for some comments from the same sorts of people; one might detect a pattern here...

newpersonanon1 karma

Hey there, I'm 18 and very interested in classical archaeology. I know this of course depends on the individual but do you think it is wise to get into such a specialized field? I eventually want to be a scholar in this field.

ehcline1 karma

It is wise to do so, if it's what you want to do. Otherwise you'll spend your life wishing you had done so. But, be aware that there are very few jobs and that you might end up eating rice and beans in your parent's basement, as I frequently warn my students and advisees.

PriestofAlvis1 karma

It's late but I just noticed your AMA so I'm hoping you'll still be responding in the morning. I'm a fan of your Trojan War Modern Scholar lecture series. It actually inspired me to visit Troy last summer when I was traveling through Greece and Turkey and it gave me a lot of insight on what I saw there. I am very interested in history particularly late Roman/Byzantine history. My question for you is what is it about the late Bronze Age that particularly interests you and makes it unique from previous and subsequent eras? Thanks for the lectures and the AMA.

ehcline2 karma

Great; glad that you went to Troy! Hope it was worth the long trip there! If you liked the Trojan War lecture series, you'll probably now want to get my short book published recently by Oxford, in which I updated a lot of the information found in the lecture series (2006 vs. 2013). As for the Late Bronze Age, I find it fascinating and unique insofar as it was one of the only periods in history where one can even begin to talk about civilizations who were as interconnected as we are today; they were as globalized in the Aegean and ancient Near East as us now. I also love the fact that we have their ancient texts and can read the letters that they wrote to one another, which show us that not much has changed over the centuries. That's why in my new book 1177 BC I actually start the story 300 years earlier, because I am just as interested in WHAT collapsed as I am in HOW and WHY...and I spend a lot of time simply telling stories about those centuries, including lots of quotes from the ancient texts themselves. Even though we don't have all of the answers to our questions, the journey of investigation, and the amount that we learn along the way, makes it fascinating, at least for me.

PriestofAlvis1 karma

It was cool to simply be at Troy and your lectures made what I was seeing make a bit more sense but there wasn't anything nearly as spectacular as the walls in Istanbul, the library at Ephesus, or all the Hittite artifacts at the museum in Ankara. I'm looking forward to reading 1177, do you have any plans for future lecture courses?

ehcline1 karma

Not at this point, but if the Teaching Company comes knocking at my door, I'll be happy to talk to them...

Finrod_the_awesome1 karma

What is your position on preserving ancient ruins? Should they be "restored", have deterioration prevented or left for nature to take its course? I was lived in Greece and it seemed that Knossos seems to be left alone but the Parthenon in Athens seems to be in perpetual repair. Just curious of various schools of thought. Not an archeology student. Just interested. Thanks.

ehcline2 karma

Ah, my students know what my position is on this one. We need to do conservation as soon as we uncover something, so that it is protected, especially if there is mud brick involved which could wash away in the rain during the winter, but "restoration" should not be done unless we are certain that is what it looked like. Knossos, as restored by Sir Arthur Evans, is a prime example of what should not be done. However, in the case of the Parthenon, we have to repair the damage done by faulty repairs in the 1890s or thereabouts.

HaydenPlanettierium1 karma

My knowledge the end of the Bronze Age is general, so I would like to ask about one of the mysterious things I recall: I believe there were an unnamed people referred to as the "Sea People" who raided coastal areas like Vikings. Is there any consensus yet as to who these people were or from where they came? Thanks!

ehcline2 karma

You are correct; that is the subject of much of my new book, 1177 BC. But, there is no consensus yet as to who they were or from where they came. I favor the Western Mediterranean (Sardinia, Sicily, Italy) as the origin for some of them, but other peoples most likely joined in along the way, until we get the multitude of different groups that the Egyptians name in their records and whom we simply call the "Sea Peoples." They remain one of the great mysteries of the Bronze Age, but I don't think that they were the cause of the Collapse; instead, they are one of the symptoms. They may have started migrating because of drought and famine, but it was a migration of entire families rather than Viking raiders.

ShakaUVM1 karma

This is the question I was most interested in. The Sea Peoples have always fascinated me. (Have you read Black Ships? It's about them, sorta.)

Is there any new scholarship on them?

ehcline1 karma

There's not all that much new, but our attitude towards them has changed. I've written about that specifically in the book -- like I said above, I think they were a symptom rather than a cause of the Collapse and were as much victims as oppressors. And, no, I haven't read Black Ships...I'll have to try to find it.

M3Prince1 karma

Dr. Cline, when Dr Jones discovered the famous artifacts in the canyon of the crescent moon, i was inspired by his dedication to his field. Since then, I have lived my life as if a penitent man shall only pass. Can you share with me a life experience that has changed your worldview?

ehcline2 karma

Yes. Watching the third Indiana Jones movie. Sean Connery was brilliant.

Have I chosen...wisely?

Griff21 karma

I have limited knowledge on my ancient history but I was wondering if you have heard the myth that Crete was Atlantis and was wiped out by tsunami caused by a volcano and if so if you could weigh in on it and your ideas on the theory.

ehcline2 karma

I do think that there is a version close to what you describe that is more likely to be the kernel of truth at the basis of the Atlantis myth and that is the eruption of Santorini, an island about 70 miles north of Crete. That island was in contact with Egypt and the Near East, as well as with Crete and Mainland Greece, but all of that ended when the volcano exploded in either the 17th or the 16th century BC. For me, that is the most likely link between reality and the myth of Atlantis.

joebob8011 karma

There are already two holds on this book at my local library. Is it really worth waiting a few months to read?

ehcline2 karma

I think so. :-) But, you could also buy or rent the Kindle version, which isn't very expensive...and then you'd have it in under a minute, rather than waiting for months...

globotech1 karma

I haven't had a chance to read your book yet but I'm looking forward to it. Are there any civilizations that you think will remain a mystery to us as a result of not enough artifacts and also are there any newly discovered sites that you find especially interesting? Thanks!

ehcline2 karma

I think there are quite a few civilizations that still remain to be discovered, in various parts of the world, but we shall see. As for newly discovered sites, I don't know that this counts anymore, but when I first learned about the Moche in Peru — I think it was in the early 1990s -- I was absolutely fascinated (and still am). I think if I weren't so happy working where I am, I'd want to work in Peru.

AwsmCookie1 karma


ehcline3 karma

That we're never going to find Noah's Ark. That pisses off more people than you might imagine...

chronikfunk1 karma


ehcline2 karma

Dissimilar in almost everything way. Different period, different topic, different author. Read both and see what you think.

GdubScholar1 karma

What was the premise of your Fulbright scholar?

ehcline1 karma

The project that I was working on was my dissertation, cataloguing all of the Egyptian and Near Eastern objects found in good contexts in the Late Bronze Age Aegean, to show beyond the shadow of a doubt that there was lots of trade ongoing across the Mediterranean more than 3,000 years ago. That eventually became my first book, Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: International Trade and the Late Bronze Age Aegean.

rberg89-8 karma

You lost me at biblical archaeology.

Jesus Fucking Christ.

ehcline10 karma

I'm sorry, but you lost me at "you lost me". Your comment is thoroughly confusing; do you have something against biblical archaeology? And if so, why? Biblical archaeology is simply a subset of the larger field of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, to quote from my small book on the topic. Or were you attempting to make a different point?

rberg89-4 karma

I don't think the bible is a legitimate source of information.

Did you check out the red sea before you realized it was the reed sea?

I'm sure there's some history there but I don't know how to respect a pursuit based on a big book compiled from hundreds of games of telephone.

Edit: Do you think Noah's Ark is real? Did you find it? I think the claim that a single non-shipwright family could build a boat and collect and house two of every creature for 40 days is just silly. Doesn't that sound like crap to you? Why would someone look for Noah's Ark?

ehcline8 karma

I think we are closer in opinion than you would have expected. For instance, I don't think Noah's Ark is real and there is no way that I would go looking for it, nor do I condone anyone else doing so. As I've said in many places, that's a waste of time, money, and effort. I think you would very much enjoy my book From Eden to Exile, in which I debunk those who are searching for it, along with the other things that will probably never be found. Most of those "looking" for the Ark are really scam artists looking to get your money, in my opinion; some may be legitimate believers, but you will notice that there are almost never any real archaeologists associated with such expeditions. However, I would suggest to you that, even if it was compiled by many people over a long period of time, the Bible is a legitimate source of information, if you treat it carefully — the same way that we very carefully use Homer to get tidbits of information about the Greek Bronze Age and the Trojan War. It is not a history book, but there is some real history in it. I treat the Bible, in my professional life, as simply another ancient source, to be poked, prodded, analyzed, questioned, and then used when verified against other sources, just like I do for Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Egyptian, and Hittite sources. And, most of us scholars know that the "red sea" is a mistaken translation for the "reed sea".