While looking through one of the History Roundups over at the Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog (History Roundup #183 to be precise), I came across an article concerning a book that discusses how a society consisting of a number of countries all interconnected by diplomacy, commerce, and military alliances could be brought down by changes in the climate, pressure on agricultural resources, masses of refugees, and outside aggressors.
No, this wasn’t one of those books like Thom Hartmann’s “The Crash of 2016” concerning a possible economic disaster of epic proportions, nor is it a book set in the near future. This book is “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Ended” by Eric H. Cline, and it describes the circumstances that brought about the near-simultaneous collapse of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites, Mycenaean Greeks, and other societies in the late Bronze Age.
The fact that the description of the book’s thesis sounds so familiar to us is exactly the point that Cline is trying to make. We may be heading down a similar path as Cline feels that there are similarities between modern Western civilization and the network of societies in that era. I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know if Cline believes that we can prevent this fate or if it is inevitable.
I suspect that it is likely an inevitable fate. As Douglas Adams once observed, “Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.” But, it could be argued that we have a few more tricks up our sleeves than the folks in the Bronze Age did, so we might be able to avert this disaster.
Is Cline on the right track, or is he finding similarities between our era and those days that don’t really exist? If he is right, are we capable of avoiding the kind of catastrophe that befell those ancient societies?