“It is a different experience to write for the public. For Eric and me, both of our books are outreach books. They’re meant to share the work of historians and archaeologists with a broader audience and to interest people in the ancient world.” – Diane Harris Cline
Whether it’s leading trips around the Mediterranean or publishing books for the public, Associate Professor of History and Classics Diane Harris Cline loves introducing people to the country of Greece. In her latest collaboration with National Geographic, Harris Cline authored the official book companion to Nat Geo and PBS’s three-part documentary series and travelling exhibition, The Greeks. “As early as 2012, I discovered National Geographic had been talking about a book to go with their upcoming television program and museum show,” recalled Harris Cline. “They were on and off with it and finally decided to move forward with the publication. It was a whirlwind to write the book, but really a fun project!”
Initially released during the summer of 2016, The Greeks: An Illustrated History has now been translated into modern Greek (ΟΙ ΑΡΧΑΙΟΙ ΕΛΛΗΝΕΣ: ΜΙΑ ΕΙΚΟΝΟΓΡΑΦΗΜΕΝΗ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑ), published by Pedio Books with Ellinika Grammata. Having had a consistent interest in outreach throughout her career, Harris Cline hopes that the translated book will inspire young Greeks. “I was speaking with my Greek friend, Andronike Makres, who is an epigrapher. She ran across a translated copy of my book last year,” said Harris Cline. “She told me that she has been concerned that Classics is not taught in schools as much in Athens anymore, but had hoped that this book would encourage young people to learn more about their heritage. I think that would be amazing if I could help do that.”
Having lectured on more than a dozen Smithsonian Journeys and National Geographic Expeditions to Greece, Harris Cline has also seen first-hand the impact that her book has had on American travelers who were relatively unfamiliar with the ancient Greeks. “Bringing people to Greece is one of the best things I do,” said Harris Cline. “And this book has now become part of the reading material for my National Geographic tours. Nat Geo sends a copy to every traveler in their welcome package and it becomes this special experience where the group travels with the author and I can share my passion for the country and its history and culture.”
Diane Harris Cline speaking at a book talk in Athens promoting the release of her publication into modern Greek.
Fourteen Languages and Counting: 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed
Since working on his dissertation from 1987 to 1991, Professor of Classics, Anthropology, and History Eric H. Cline has been wanting to tell the story of the Late Bronze Age to a wider audience. “I have notes going back 10-20 years, thinking about how I might want to write about the Late Bronze Age for those outside the academic community, but it never came to fruition until one day my editor at Princeton, Rob Tempio, took me out to lunch,” remembered Cline. “He told me that he wanted me to write a book about the Bronze Age collapse and I said ‘ok, as long as I can include history and archaeology lessons within the book.’” After that meeting, Cline was finally able to walk people through the centuries, introducing the Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, and Egyptians, and collapsing it all in the 12th century B.C. for his book, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.
First released in April 2014, the book has become an international best-seller (more than 150,000 copies have been sold world-wide so far) and been translated into a whopping fourteen languages, with the most recent being modern Greek. “A Greek reporter wrote about 1177 in a newspaper article that went viral on the web," explained Cline. “I guess the publisher, Psichogios, saw the article and decided that it would be great to translate the book into modern Greek. They contacted Princeton University Press, acquired the rights, and 1177 π.Χ. - ΟΤΑΝ ΚΑΤΕΡΡΕΥΣΕ Ο ΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΟΣ was published in February 2019. It was a great coincidence, since we had arrived in Greece at almost the same time!”
Eric H. Cline spotting the modern Greek translation of his book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed in the Athens airport!
To increase education about the Late Bronze Age, Cline has travelled around the United States giving lectures about 1177. A recording of one lecture in Bethesda, Maryland was even posted to YouTube and now has over 2.8 million views. “As professional archaeologists and historians, we often take for granted the information we know and forget that most other people usually have no idea,” said Cline. “But people have a thirst for learning and I love that everyone who views the lecture or purchases the book is one more person who gets to discover the Late Bronze Age.”
When asked about doing outreach, Cline also expressed the importance of sharing his research with both the general public and his scholarly colleagues. “I decided long ago that it was part of our mission as archaeologists to bring what we do to the public. In fact, if you look at the Archaeological Institute of America’s Code of Ethics, that’s one of the things it says,” explained Cline. “It’s been about 20 years since I’ve started to write for the public, in addition to more traditional scholarship for my colleagues, and now my rule of thumb is for every one thing that I put out for the general public, I will also try to write two academic pieces.”
Diane Harris Cline and Eric H. Cline in Athens for her book talk and signing in March 2019.
Diane Harris Cline is currently based at the University of Crete in Rethymno, on her second Fulbright Fellowship. In the Fall, Harris Cline was a Fellow in Hellenic Studies at the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies. Her association with ASCSA goes back more than 35 years: she participated in the 1982 Summer Session; had her first Fulbright in 1987-88; held the Eugene Vanderpool and Doreen Spritzer fellowships from 1988-1990; and directed the 1997 Summer Session. She has been a Senior Associate Member and currently serves on the ASCSA Managing Committee, representing George Washington University.
Eric H. Cline first became involved with the American School as an Agora volunteer in 1982. In 1987, Cline returned on the Olivia James Travelling Fellowship from the Archaeological Institute of America and then again in 1989-90 as a Fulbright Fellow. So far, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed has been translated into Italian, Dutch, Spanish, French, German, Korean, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Chinese Simplified, Czech, and Greek, with Chinese Complex still in progress. He is currently at work on a sequel.