Wise words can live on after we’re gone. So it was with my old friend Larry Jones. As I drove down to Houston to his funeral last month, I learned more about this preacher than I had in the 45 years since I first met him. I learned that he had been adopted, which had probably motivated him to sponsor a children’s home in Mexico City. If he had lived longer, he would have done the same thing all over the world. But it was a fact that most other people missed that particularly caught my attention. He had recommended the book 1177 BC. I checked it out of the library and read it, and I’m glad I did.
In 2014, Eric Cline wrote 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed. This is an up-to-date scholarly work about ancient civilizations. I learned from it. More than anything, it opened my eyes to how non-linear history has been. I had no idea. History is filled with catastrophes that led to dark ages. The fall of the Roman Empire is one recent example. Cline specifically describes the prosperity of the world during the Bronze Age and the poverty and isolation of the following Iron Age. No one knows why it happened, but research has provided more clues, and we’re continuing to search for reasons. It remains a mystery, even for Cline, and that in itself provides a key to chronology. It was not just Egypt that had a period when history went dark. The entire world was in darkness. History stopped being recorded.
Centuries of legendary wealth in times of peace were followed by mass destruction. Ugarit and northern Syria were destroyed between 1190 and 1185 BC. Egypt was attacked by the Sea People in 1207 BC and 1177 BC. Megiddo, Lachish, and cities in southern Syria and Canaan were destroyed around 1130 BC. Babylonia was destroyed by Elam around 1158 BC. The Hittite capital of Hattusa was destroyed between 1190 and 1180 BC. Nearby cities were destroyed by fire. The destruction of Troy VIIA by fire is now dated to 1190-1180 BC. Mycenae was destroyed by earthquake around 1250 BC and nearby Tiryns in 1200 BC. In 1180 BC, the Palace of Nestor at Pylos (Greece) was destroyed by fire. Earthquakes seem to have struck Mycenae, Tiryns, Midea, Thebes, Pylos, Troy, Hattusa, Ugarit, Megiddo, Ashdod, and a dozen other places. Cyprus was overrun by refugees fleeing present-day Greece, leading to the destructions of 1225-1190 BC.
Research has show than the climate warmed and then cooled and became dryer between 1250 and 1197 BC. Drought and famine led to mass migrations. The complex trade relations that had built world-wide prosperity disappeared. Centuries of international trade and prosperity were followed by a systemic market crash and barbarism. That could be our own future. Cline describes it as a “perfect storm”. When various problems arose, the interconnectedness of society caused it to collapse like dominoes. So I began searching to find where the world-wide collapse fit in with the Bible.
Concerning Assyria, one popular source says, “After the death of Tiglath-Pileser I in 1076, Assyria was in comparative decline for the next 150 years. The period from 1200 BC to 900 BC was a dark age for the entire Near East, North Africa, Caucasus, Mediterranean and Balkan regions, with great upheavals and mass movements of people.”
The fall of international trade centers would not have affected Israel directly, since the people lived from the land. Climate change, however, would have been noticed world-wide. Looking at climate, we find a 3-year famine in the time of David (II Sam. 21:1) and another 3-year drought in the time of Ahab (I Kings 17-18). Could it be? We can adjust the date of 1177 BC for the New Chronology by subtracting 346, which brings it down to 831 BC. This is when cities were overrun by migrating peoples due to previous years of drought and famine. Ahab’s drought was around 860 BC, which falls perfectly in line with the adjusted dates. Drought preceded invasions. This helps me understand the disastrous consequences of drought. It’s more than just words in a story. This affected people. It may well be that the words of Elijah caused it to stop raining as far as ancient Greece, because of the sins of empires as well as the sins of Ahab. Elijah might be responsible for the collapse of civilization at the end of the Bronze Age. It’s certainly something to think about.