Between 1276 and 1178 BC, a connection of pirates famous collectively as a Sea Peoples terrorized a coastal cities and civilizations of a eastern Mediterranean. For a many part, these pirates, who were a Bronze Age precursors to a Vikings of Scandinavia, preyed on Egypt, that during that time was in a New Kingdom period.
What followed was a array of mortal raids that culminated in dual vital battles—the Battle of Djahy and a Battle of a Delta. The former, a land battle, was won by a army of Pharaoh Ramses III. The latter, a naval battle, not usually repulsed one of a final vital invasions by a Sea Peoples yet competence really good have saved ancient Egyptian civilization.
Despite their critical purpose in story and a widely hold thought that they were obliged for a Late Bronze Age Collapse, a near-catastrophic decrease in civilization via a Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, a Sea Peoples sojourn a theme of controversy.
Although there are many areas of consensus, some historians and archaeologists continue to learn new interpretations. The following 10 theories benefaction a spectrum of a many opposite theories per a Sea Peoples.
10 The Philistines
Depicted as a archvillains of a ancient Israelites in a Old Testament, a Philistines staid a southern seashore of Israel (which now includes a Gaza Strip). After substantiating settlements, a Philistines shaped a connection of city-states that enclosed Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron.
The Philistines came into brawl with a Israelites once they started expanding their energy over their coastal domains. Because of this conflict, a Israelites not usually demonized a Philistines yet done tangible demons out of their gods, including a fish God Dagon. Elsewhere in a Bible, a Philistines were synthesized in a form of a hulk Goliath, a proud, boorish soldier who is bested by a tiny and common warrior David.
Outside of a Bible, a Philistines are mentioned in several Syrian, Phoenician, and Egyptian letters. While it is generally deliberate that a Philistines were a organisation of Sea Peoples who staid a area, not everybody agrees on their accurate origins.
One of a some-more common theories is that a Philistines were creatively from a Aegean Sea region, with many some-more people claiming that a Philistines were Mycenaean Greeks. Archaeological digs nearby a ancient Philistine city of Gath unclosed pieces of pottery that bear tighten similarities to ancient Greek objects. Furthermore, a red-and-black ceramic bear taken from one of a excavations roughly positively points to a change of a Mycenaean culture.
9 The Sardinian Connection
In a Medinet Habu, a mortuary church dedicated to Ramses III, there is forged into a mill a many famous depiction of a Sea Peoples. Showing several battles, a service closely identifies a Sea Peoples with several opposite forms of headwear.
The many distinguished organisation is decorated wearing horned helmets. It is ordinarily believed that these fighters go to a Sherden, one of 9 groups named by Egyptian records. Again, since a ancient Egyptians were mostly meddlesome in fighting and defeating a Sea Peoples, they did not keep minute annals concerning their origins.
However, several researchers have resolved that a Sherden people were from Sardinia. Specifically, a Sherden are deliberate partial of a island’s Nuragic civilization, a little-known civilization that left behind countless mill sites, including towers, houses, and funeral complexes. The Nuragic people (so named since of their mill structures, or “nuraghe”) also left behind statues, including Bronze Age figurines display Sardinian warriors wearing horned helmets.
8 The Sicilian Connection
Following a age of a Sea Peoples, a island of Sicily was divided between 3 vital tribes—the Elymians, a Sicani, and a Siculi (sometimes referred to as a Sicels). While a Sicani were inland to a island, a Elymians are believed to have creatively come from Asia Minor and had low connectors to a Greek city-states of a Aegean Sea.
The Sicels, on a other hand, were expected an Italic clan from a mainland. All 3 tribes competence have connectors to a Sea Peoples, yet it is believed that marauders from Sicily were partial of a invasions by a Sea Peoples. Specifically, these Sicilian pirates were called a Shekelesh by a Egyptians.
For their part, a after Greek conquerors of ancient Sicily believed that a Sicels had fled to Troy after being degraded by a Egyptians. From there, they trafficked to southern Italy and finally to Sicily. Modern historians seem to uphold this faith that a Sicels and a Elymians were both degraded members of a Sea Peoples connection who found preserve in Sicily.
7 The Etruscans
Few European civilizations sojourn as puzzling as a Etruscans. These inhabitants of northern and executive Italy left behind a still mostly illegible alphabet and language, thereby forcing historians to rest for serve information on Roman annals as good as a colorful tombs that a Etruscans built for one another. The doubt of Etruscan origins is distant from new since a ancient Greeks pondered a emanate themselves.
While some ancient Greeks believed that a Etruscans were associated to a Pelasgians, an Aegean clan who spoke a chapter of Mycenaean Greek, Dionysius of Halicarnassus claimed that a Etruscans were in fact a internal inhabitants of Italy. The many mostly steady avowal comes from Herodotus, however. Herodotus (and after Virgil) believed that a Etruscans came from a Anatolian segment of Lydia and were led to Italy by King Tyrrhenus.
Interestingly enough, one of a Sea Peoples were a Teresh, whom some ancient historians also called a Tyrrhenians. According to this theory, a forefathers of a Etruscans were creatively Greek pirates who sacked and staid Lydia before being pushed out of Anatolia by a famine. This start competence explain a similarities between Etruscan and Greek religions.
6 Connection To The Balkans
While many of a Sea Peoples came from possibly a Aegean or a wider Mediterranean, many historians disagree that groups from a Adriatic Sea also assimilated a migration. Specifically, Austrian historian Fritz Schachermeyr asserted in 1982 that a Sherden and Shekelesh were creatively from a Adriatic and had connectors to a ancient Illyrians.
Today, small is famous about a Illyrians besides a fact that they were a genealogical connection that ruled many of modern-day Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia, and Albania. Furthermore, it is also believed that certain Illyrian tribes staid a Italian peninsula and intermixed with internal Italic tribes. Recently, dual researchers with Vienna University dispelled another thought about a Illyrians—that their denunciation directly shabby complicated Albanian.
Although Schachermeyr’s conjecture is not ordinarily hold among students of a Sea Peoples, there are those who continue to trust that a fast in a Balkans gathering several tribes, including a Illyrians, to quit over land and over water.
5 The Battle Of Troy
The Battle of Troy is a heart of The Iliad, one of a Western world’s oldest works of literature. The epic poem describes a long encircle of Troy by several armies representing a many opposite tribes of Greece. Three of these tribes—the Danoi, a Teucrians, and a Achaeans—may have participated in a Sea Peoples invasions.
In a Great Karnak Inscription and a Merneptah Stele, these Greek tribes are called a Denyen, a Tjeker, and a Ekwesh, respectively. However, nothing of this is set in stone, even yet a Aegean segment positively supposing a infancy of a pirates endangered in a Sea Peoples confederation.
Insofar as a Trojan War is concerned, many believed that Homer’s poem was a illusory digest of a genuine fight between a Greek connection and a internal inhabitants of Troy (who competence be a ancestors of a Etruscans). Tantalizingly, a Tawagalawa letter, that was combined by an unnamed Hittite aristocrat (generally believed to be Hattusili III) to a aristocrat of Ahhiyawa (an ancient Anatolia dominion usually south of Troy), speaks of an occurrence involving Wilusa.
Specifically, a minute tells of a new fight between a Hittites and Ahhiyawa over Wilusa. Many trust that Wilusa, that belonged to a dominion of Arzawa, was a Hittite name for Troy while Ahhiyawa was a name a Hittites gave to a Mycenaean Greek civilization of Asia Minor. This isn’t small conjecture since archaeological justification recovered from western Turkey positively points to a fact that Bronze Age Greeks grown city-states not distant from lands claimed by a Hittites.
4 The Minoan Connection
Although a infancy of a Sea Peoples competence have come from a Greek mainland, it has been speculated that a island of Crete, that was afterwards home to a absolute Minoan civilization, also constructed raiders who participated in a conquests of a Sea Peoples. At times, Crete has been connected to a Tjeker and Peleset peoples, both of whom were lumped in with a Sea Peoples connection by ancient Egyptian authors.
Prior to a Late Bronze Age Collapse, a Minoans traded widely with a Egyptians and a civilizations of a Levant. Furthermore, in a Amarna Letters, Crete, that is called Caphtor, is enclosed as one of a good informal powers that suffered underneath a consistent attacks of a Sea Peoples. That being said, Minoan pirates, along with Mycenaean colonists who had staid both Crete and Cyprus, competence have assimilated a Sea Peoples to constraint livestock, booty, and slaves.
3 The Dorian Invasion
Although it has been argued that a Sea Peoples undertook their voyages for plunder, some historians have claimed that a Sea Peoples were journey from invasions in their possess homelands.
Regarding Mycenaean Greece, Carl Blegen of a University of Cincinnati due a thought that a Greek people of a executive seashore were forced to rush their homes due to a Dorian advance from a alpine south. While many contend that a several Mycenaean city-states collapsed due to healthy disasters, there are many who still contend that Mycenaean Greeks fled blazing city-states and assimilated a Sea Peoples connection to find new homes.
The whole judgment of a Dorian advance comes from ancient Greek legend, privately a Heracleidae, or a sons of Hercules. In a story, a banished descendants of Hercules, who had been betrothed all of Greece, started a fight to recapture their father’s mislaid land.
From this, certain historians due a conjecture concerning a successful defeat of Mycenaean Greece by Greek-speaking tribes from Laconia. Accordingly, Doric Greek, that was oral by a inhabitants of Sparta and Pylos, became a statute denunciation of post-Mycenaean Greece, improved famous as a Greek Dark Age.
There are many problems with this theory, generally deliberation a default of archaeological justification ancillary it. But it does offer an engaging answer as to because a once-powerful city-states of Mycenaean Greece collapsed.
2 A Greater Indo-European East
Considering that many of a Sea Peoples came from Europe, it has been due that their incursions into a eastern Mediterranean form a arrange of Indo-European emigration period. Although it is not certain, it is expected that many of a Sea Peoples spoke opposite Indo-European languages, from Mycenaean Greek to a several Italic languages of Italy and Sicily.
Similarly, a grade to that a Sea Peoples combined permanent settlements in a eastern Mediterranean is in dispute, yet they were expected assimilated by a indicate land emigration entrance from both Europe and Asia Minor. Some have due a indeterminate conjecture that “Land Peoples” from as distant north as a Carpathian Mountains assimilated this migration, while others have beheld that a Lukka, one of a named Sea Peoples, seem identical to a Lydians or Luwians, dual Indo-European peoples from western and executive Asia Minor.
Indeed, a Anatolian dominion of Kizzuwatna, that is now located in southwestern Turkey, competence have enclosed settlers from both Phoenicia and Mycenaean Greece. Furthermore, Hittite annals competence indicate to some Indo-European migrations predating a Sea Peoples, such as a conquests of Attarsiya, a Mycenaean Greek ubiquitous who not usually helped to settle a Greek dominion of Ahhiya yet also invaded Cyprus and several Hittite bondman states, including Arzawa.
1 Outsized Influence On Greek Mythology
As formerly mentioned, some scholars trust that The Iliad recalls an ancient fight between a Mycenaean Greek state of Ahhiyawa and a Hittite Empire. Similarly, The Odyssey sum a attempts of a Greek ubiquitous Odysseus to lapse to a island of Ithaca after portion in a Trojan War. Although these are a many famous examples of Greek legends traffic with a eastern Mediterranean, other legends indicate to a probable Greek memory of allotment in a Near East.
For instance, a story of Zeus, a arch God of a Olympians, and his brawl with a beast Typhon expected comes from Cilicia, a dominion in southern Anatolia tranquil by a Hittites. Before a fall of Mycenae, Greeks staid Cilicia in vast numbers. From there, a Greeks engrossed Hittite and Cilician legends, including a story of a sea dragon degraded by a rumble god.
The Greek story of Teucer, one of a heroes of a Trojan War, likewise showcases a laxity with a ancient Near East. It is pronounced that Teucer and his group staid Crete and Cyprus and afterwards set out on many voyages that took them by Canaan and Phoenician cities such as Sidon. It is probable that a story of Teucer, as good as other stories concerning a travels of Greek heroes following a Trojan War, competence be parables about Mycenaean Greek allotment in a Near East during a age of a Sea Peoples.
Benjamin Welton is a freelance author formed in Boston. His work has seemed in The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, Listverse, Metal Injection, and other publications. He now blogs during literarytrebuchet.blogspot.com.