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1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed

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I really dig the idea of gaming in the time of the Trojan War and the Greek myths. Can you think of a better time for heroics than the period of Odysseus and Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece? Even historically, the era seems ripe for heroic fiction or RPG-ing because we know so little about it, and much of what we “know” can be overturned with a new discovery or even chronology.

And then there was the Apocalypse.

I had often read snippets about a period in time when all the major civilizations collapsed. The time when the Mycenean Greece collapsed into the Greek Dark Ages, to remain quiet until the flourishing of the Archaic period many centuries later. The idea of an ancient apocalypse intrigued me.

I remain intrigued and better informed after reading Eric H. Cline’s 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. 1177 B.C. does a great job of explaining what happened, some theories of why it might have happened, and why we should care. For me, this book was just about the prefect mixture of information and inspiration.

So the Apocalypse was not exactly what I imagined, though there is a period in which multiple civilizations either fell or underwent extreme hardships. And it is possible that there was some kind of huge disaster that cost millions of lives. We don’t really seem to know.

What was even more fascinating for me was Cline’s explanation of how “globalized” the preceding period had become. We might call this “known globalized,” because the networks encompassed the world known to the Egyptians – whose empire did go into decline, but which most certainly did not disappear. Trade was brisk and merchants travelled extensively. This was very much a period of cultural pollination.

Which makes the following period even more fertile for RPGs. Considering the general idea in something like D&D is that the world has points of safety and civilization, but is generally dangerous and that the world lays atop the ruins of an older, more advanced world. That’s kind of the post-1177 B.C. “known globe.” Those empires that did not disappear went into decline, and the points of light style campaign would work great there.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an overview of the coming of the ancient dark ages. While the book is well-referenced – allowing a reader to quickly find a book or article Dr. Cline considers authoritative – it is also highly readable. This is much more a popular history than a scholarly work, and so is very accessible.

I give 1177 B.C. 4.5 amphorae of wine transported from Knossos out of 5.

You can learn more about 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed here.