New Book — Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail?

Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail? is a new book that explores the rise and fall of complex, large-scale societies in the ancient world and what lessons we can take from these past experiments in sustainability. Scott Johnson, the book’s author, is the founder of the Low Technology Institute and the current host of the podcast. The book is available for purchase this October from Routledge and Amazon.

From the publisher’s website:

Ideas abound as to why certain complex societies collapsed in the past, including environmental change, subsistence failure, fluctuating social structure and lack of adaptability. Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail? evaluates the current theories in this important topic and discusses why they offer only partial explanations of the failure of past civilizations. This engaging book offers a new theory of collapse, that of social hubris. Through an examination of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Roman, Maya, Inca, and Aztec societies, Johnson persuasively argues that hubris blinded many ancient peoples to evidence that would have allowed them to adapt, and he further considers how this has implications for contemporary societies. Comprehensive and well-written, this volume serves as an ideal text for undergraduate courses on ancient complex societies, as well as appealing to the scholar interested in societal collapse.

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