Books  Environmental Studies  Environmental History 

Understanding Collapse: Ancient History and Modern Myths

  • Updates Tainter's 1990 book by including the latest data and theory of collapse
  • Written in jargon-free language accessible to students and assumes little prior knowledge of ancient history
  • Includes lively case studies that show how collapse has played out across the world from prehistory to the present, including modern examples

By: Guy D Middleton(Author)

300 pages, 28 b/w illustrations, 18 b/w maps, 16 tables

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Jul 2017 | #231968 | ISBN-13: 9781316606070
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £29.99 $38/€33 approx
Hardback | Jul 2017 | #231967 | ISBN-13: 9781107151499
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £94.99 $122/€106 approx

About this book

Understanding Collapse explores the collapse of ancient civilisations, such as the Roman Empire, the Maya, and Easter Island. In this lively survey, Guy D. Middleton critically examines our ideas about collapse – how we explain it and how we have constructed potentially misleading myths around collapses – showing how and why collapse of societies was a much more complex phenomenon than is often admitted. Rather than positing a single explanatory model of collapse – economic, social, or environmental – Middleton gives full consideration to the overlooked resilience in communities of ancient peoples and the choices that they made. He offers a fresh interpretation of collapse that will be accessible to both students and scholars. Understanding Collapse is an engaging, introductory-level survey of collapse in the archaeology/history literature, which will be ideal for use in courses on the collapse of civilizations, sustainability, and climate change. It includes up-to-date case studies of famous and less well-known examples of collapses.


List of figures
List of tables

1. Introducing collapse
2. Egypt: the old kingdom falls
3. Akkad: the end of the world's first empire
4. The Indus Valley: a truly lost civilisation?
5. The end of Minoan Crete
6. The kingdoms of Mycenaean Greece
7. The Hittites and the Eastern Mediterranean
8. The fall of the Western Roman Empire
9. Collapse and revolution in Mesoamerica
10. The classic Maya collapse
11. Collapse in the Andes
12. Angkor and the Khmer
13. The incredible survival of Rapa Nui
14. Conclusions
15. Bibliographic essay

Write a review

There are currently no reviews for this book. Be the first to review this book!


Guy D. Middleton studied Ancient History and Archaeology at Newcastle University, where he won the Shipley Prize. For his PhD at the University of Durham he studied the collapse of Mycenaean states around 1200 BC. His works on collapse include: Nothing Lasts Forever: Environmental Discourses on the Collapse of Past Societies (Journal of Archaeological Research, 2012) and The Collapse of Palatial Society in Late Bronze Age Greece and the Postpalatial Period (2010). He also has a BA in Humanities and English Language and an MEd in Applied Linguistics and has worked extensively with international students. As well as teaching at universities in the UK, he has lived and worked in Greece, Korea, and for some years at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He is now a Visiting Fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University.

Bestsellers in this subject

The Making of the British Landscape

NHBS Price: £9.99 $13/€11 approx

Grazing Ecology and Forest History

NHBS Price: £108.99 $140/€121 approx

War & Peat

NHBS Price: £24.99 $32/€28 approx

Pests in the City

NHBS Price: £18.99 $24/€21 approx

Nature and Power

NHBS Price: £22.99 $30/€26 approx

VAT: GB 407 4846 44
NHBS Ltd is registered in England and Wales: 1875194