newly discovered “sea people” home cities

iarcuri  [antiquity]


The date of Troy VIIa’s destruction probably lies within the half-century ca. 1230-1180 B.C., although Blegen ultimately placed it a generation or so earlier and Podzuweit has recently suggested that it should be set a good deal later.

On the basis of the Iliad and Odyssey specifically and of Greek tradition in general, the destroyers of Troy VIIa have traditionally been identified as Mycenaean Greeks from the central and southern Greek Mainland. However, there is nothing in the archaeological evidence to identify precisely who the attackers were. Indeed, there is at least some archaeological evidence which suggests that the attackers were not Mycenaeans. For example, are the Mainland Greeks likely to have destroyed Troy at more or less the same time as their own centers in the Peloponnese were being destroyed? It is possible to answer this question in the affirmative if the Peloponnesian destructions were due to natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, as most recently argued in the cases of Tiryns and Mycenae) or if they were a direct result of the absence of large numbers of potential defenders who were away besieging Troy, although both scenarios do seem to stretch coincidence to its limits. Perhaps more significant is the fact that the “Coarse Ware” of Troy VIIb1, a class of pottery which makes its first appearance at Troy immediately after the destruction of Troy VIIa, is very closely related to the handmade and burnished pottery which appears in more or less contemporary contexts of the early LH IIIC period at a number of sites on the Greek Mainland as well as in Cyprus, southern Italy, and Sicily. In none of these areas does this pottery have local antecedents, and it has been argued by Deger-Jalkotzy that such pottery is to be derived ultimately from ceramic traditions at home in the Middle Danube area of central Europe. The “Coarse Ware” of Troy VIIb1 may be interpreted as identifying the sackers of Troy VIIa, a population group who crossed the Hellespont at the end of their journey from the Middle Danube through Rumania to Turkish Thrace. Similar groups may have been involved with the sacking of numerous major Mycenaean sites in the Peloponnese at the end of the LH IIIB period. One of several weaknesses of such a reconstruction of events, it must be confessed, is the fact that the quantities of “Coarse Ware” in Troy VIIb1, like those of the related handmade and burnished pottery at Mainland Greek Mycenaean sites in the early LH IIIC period, are relatively small. Did the makers of such pottery indeed play as important a role in the political and military history of the end of the Aegean Bronze Age as some authorities impute to them?

Desborough (1964)

Desborough cautiously suggested the possibility of an invasion by land from the north, although at the time he wrote he was acutely conscious of the fact that there was virtually no evidence, except for the destruction levels and widespread abandonments themselves, for the presence of such invaders. He did point out that a few new classes of bronze objects, the {fibula} [or safety-pins] and the cut-and-thrust swords of the so-called “Naue II” type, make their first appearance in the Mycenaean world ca. 1200 B.C. However, these objects always appear in “good Mycenaean” contexts such as chamber tombs with otherwise standard Mycenaean funeral assemblages. They consequently do not appear to have belonged exclusively to an intrusive, non-Mycenaean population element. As a result, Snodgrass (1974) concluded that objects of these kinds need not be taken as evidence of the invasion or immigration of northern peoples from the western Danube basin into the Aegean (as argued by Grumach, Milojcic, and Gimbutas, among others) because they could be considered simply as “good ideas” which “caught on” in the Aegean area at much the same time as similar objects first appeared in northern Italy and in the early Urnfield cemeteries of the Danube basin. All such objects, Snodgrass argued, could have been imported initially and locally copied thereafter by peoples indigenous to the areas in question, rather than necessarily being the belongings of invaders.

Rutter (1975, 1990), Walberg (1976), Deger-Jalkotzy (1977, 1983), Small (1990, 1997), Pilides (1994), Bankoff, Meyer, and Stefanovich (1996)

Rutter, following in the footsteps of E. French, identified a non-Mycenaean handmade and burnished class of pottery in early LH IIIC contexts at Korakou, Mycenae, Lefkandi, and a few other sites in central and southern Greece. Since this pottery was locally made, it constituted evidence for the presence of a non-Mycenaean population element within Mycenaean Greece in the period immediately following the destruction of the major Peloponnesian centers. This handmade and burnished pottery, in Rutter’s view, had its closest parallels in the “Coarse Ware” of Troy VIIb1 and in the pottery of the Final Bronze Age Coslogeni culture of southeastern Rumania. Rutter therefore suggested that there might be a connection between the makers of this non-Mycenaean pottery and the destroyers of both Troy VIIa and of the Mycenaean centers in the Peloponnese.

Deger-Jalkotzy, publishing similar non-Mycenaean ceramics from early LH IIIC contexts at the coastal site of Aigeira in Achaea, argued that similar pottery was to be found not only in Troy and Rumania but also in Sicily and southern Italy. In all cases, this pottery had no local ancestry and was presumably evidence for intrusive population groups. Such groups were probably not large (i.e. not comparable in scale to the migrating tribes who contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D.), but rather small bands of pirates, freebooters, and unemployed mercenaries. The original homeland of these groups, from which they filtered down into various areas of the Mediterranean by a number of different routes, was the central Danube. These warrior bands, comparable in terms of their activities and organization to the Vikings of the 7th to 10th centuries A.D., may indeed have constituted the nucleus of the raiders known later to the Egyptians as the Sea Peoples.

Hittite Inscriptions and Mycenaean Greece.-In R. &t. GT. sliii, 202 (July- September 1930), pp. 279-294, M. FORRER discusses the discovery of Mycenaean Greece in the cuneiform inscriptions of the Hlttite empire. Forrer, in an address made before the Socibtt! nsicrizqrre c t des a ~ r ~dies Z’Orzent, tells of having been the one to unpack these inscriptions upon their arrival at Berlin. He set about to llst place names, finding about 200, and to sketch the limits of territory involved (in the second millennium B.c.). Ahhijavu is mentioned in these texts along vith the names of Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria, whose kings regard the king of Ahhijava as a brother “great king” and so address him. This country (once it is referred to as rlhhija, is by the author identified with the empire elsewhere in the texts knoan as “the sea.” Such proper [lames as, e g., Ant(a)rAvas, TavagiaL Ihvas, Atarissias, Ttairoisa, all of which play no unimportant part in the texts, are by M. Forrer identified with Andreus, Eteocles, Atreus, Troja; to which, it must be conceded, they all appear to present some parallels. The theory is interesting. RI. Forrer has been at this work noTv for some years; time alone \<-ill tell if it is, as to many no doubt it appears, “too good to be true.”

Atreus, King of the Achaeans(?).-In R. Arch., fifth series, XIX, 1924, p. 403, S. R. quotes a letter of DR. EMILFORREinR which he declares that he has discovered Atreus (Attarissyas), king of Achaea (Ahhija) in the text of a tablet from Boghaz Keui. The date is 1240-1210. Sir Arthur Evans seems to accept the identification, but calls attention to the fact that the date separates Atreus definitely from the Mycenaean and Minoan civilization. (London Times, March 8 and April 8, 1924; cf. Orientulische Literatur-Zeitung, March, 1924.)

As early as 1924, Emil Forrer announced his discovery
of Homeric Greeks in the Hittite texts from Bogazkoy.’ Not only did he claim that Greece was meant by the term “Land of Ahhiyawa,” but also that a number of personal names could be equated with
the names of Homeric heroes. It did not take long for
other Hittitologists to challenge this sensational claim. After critical articles by Friedrich and G o e t ~ e it was Sommer who presented a careful reinterpretation of all the sources with detailed philological discu~sionH.~e came to the conclusion that none of the points adduced by Forrer could be taken as real proof;
consequently, he rejected the whole theory.

This total rejection was seen by others as going too
far. Already in 1935, Schachermeyr countered with a
monograph4 in which he concluded that, despite the
lack of real proof, the assumption that the name Ahhiyawa
indeed referred to Greeks was highly probable.

The discussion has continued up to the present.
The most outspoken advocate of connecting Ahhiyawa
with the Mycenaean Greeks was H u ~ l e yI.n~
disagreement was Steiner, who tried to disprove every
sive literature. I shall concentrate on a few problems,
mainly of text interpretation. But first, a few general

Regardless of whether the term Ahhiyawa refers to
Greeks or not, the country of that name must be
placed on the map somewhere. Localization outside
Asia Minor, either in Mainland Greece or on one of
the islands, obviously was advocated only by the adherents
of the Greek theory. Placement on the Asiatic
of Madduwattas. Still another new find is the
discovery, by Harry Hoffner, of a “joinn to the socalled
Milawata Letter (of which we shall speak

It is obviously impossible here to discuss all the
claim. After critical articles by Friedrich and G o e t ~ e , ~o pinions expressed and reasons adduced in this extenit
was Sommer who presented a careful reinterpretation
of all the sources with detailed philological discu~
sionH.~e came to the conclusion that none of the
points adduced by Forrer could be taken as real proof;
consequently, he rejected the whole theory.

One point is the increase of knowledge since the
time of Forrer and Sommer. The decipherment of
Linear B showed that the people whose civilization
had been called Mycenaean were indeed Greeks, confirming
what until then had been surmised but not
proven. Also, the number of West Anatolian sites
yielding Mycenaean finds has increased considerably.
Another change is the redating of certain Hittite texts
from the end of the thirteenth century to the end of the
fifteenth. I, among others, find the reasons for this redating
quite convincing. One text among these has a ~di rect bearing on the Ahhiyawa problem: the Indict- Altment
of Madduwattas. Still another new find is the
discovery, by Harry Hoffner, of a “joinn to the socalled
Milawata Letter (of which we shall speak

The oldest source, then, is the Madduwatta text.8 It
was written by an unnamed Hittite king who refers to
both his father’s and his own reigns. Goetze was able
to identify these two kings as an Arnuwandas and his father, Tudhaliyas. With the redating, these are now
taken as Tudhaliyas I1 and Arnuwandas I, three and
two generations, respectively, before the great Suppiluliumas;
that puts the text some thirty to fifty years
before 1400 B.C. (See Addendum).

At the beginning of the text we are told that Madduwattas
was driven from his country by Attarissiyas,
the man of Ahhiyd. The name of Madduwattas’ country
is not given. The short form Ahhiy2 (as against the
more frequent Ahhiyaw2) also occurs in an oracle text
of about the same period, which mentions Ahhiyd as
an enemy. Thus the short form is the older one.
Madduwattas fled to Tudhaliyas, who prevented
Attarissiyas from pursuing him any farther, gave
Madduwattas the land of Mt. Zippasla (not otherwise
known) and made him a Hittite vassal. Among his
duties as vassal is the prohibition of any contact with
Attarissiyas. Thereafter Madduwattas attacked Arzawa,
an enemy of the Hittites, but was utterly defeated,
so that he had to be rescued by a Hittite army. Nevertheless,
the king reinstated him in his old position.
Later Attarissiyas returned, seeking to kill Madduwattas.
Tudhaliyas sent out a general to help Madduwattas
who was unable to withstand the attack. The
Hittites fought a battle against Attarissiyas, who
brought 100 chariots with him. We then read: “One
leader of Attarissiyas was killed, and one leader of
ours, named Zidanzas, was killed.” The fact that in
the context of a chariot battle the death of one leader
on each side is singled out, even with the name of the
Hittite one, is unique in Hittite historical texts and
somehow recalls Homeric battles!
Then a town named Dalawa or Talawa began hostilities
against the Hittites, and the general who had
just fought Attarissiyas now turned against this city.
The name Talawas has been equated by most scholars
with that of the city of Tlds in Lycia, whose
Lycian name was T l a ~ aI.n~ th e course of the operations
the town of Hinduwa is mentioned; this name,
which in Hittite texts occurs only here, has by some
been equated with Kandyba, some 90 km. from Tlds.
It is true that both equations are based on phonetic
similarity, but the proximity of the two places supports
such a double identification, apart from the fact
that the Lycian Tlawa is practically identical with the Hittite form.1° While Attarissiyas’ name is not connected
with this city, the fact that the Hittite general
who had just fought Attarissiyas in the next paragraph
turns against Talawa suggests that the “man of
Ahhiyd” operated in Southwest Anatolia.
In the following parts of the text no reference to
Ahhiy2 is made until the last item, the much discussed
attack on Cyprus. Someone, probably king Arnuwandas,
reproached Madduwattas with these words:
“Since AlaSiya belongs to My Majesty, [why
did you attack it?]” Madduwattas replied:
“When Attarissiyas and the man of Piggaya
made raids on AlaSiya, I also made raids. Neither
the father of Your Majesty nor Your Majesty
ever advised me (saying): ‘AlaSiya is mine!
Recognize it as such!’ Now, if Your Majesty
wants captives of AlaSiya to be returned, I shall
return them to him.” (To this, the king replied:)
“Since Attarissiyas and the man of Piggaya are
independent of My Majesty, while you, Madduwattas,
are a subject of My Majesty, why did you
join them?”

We do not know on what grounds Arnuwandas
could claim Cyprus for himself or who “the man of
Piggaya” may be. The verb used in connection with
AlaSiya is the iterative form of “to attack,” which is
best rendered as “make raids.” The text does not
speak of conquest, and raids cannot be expected to
leave tangible traces.

I mention only briefly a fragment which may say
that a Hittite king banished his wife to Ahhiyawa,l1
and an oracle text of Mursilis’ time1* according to
which a deity of Ahhiyawa and a deity of Lazpa were
going to be brought to the ailing king.

Mursilis I1 mentions Ahhiyawa in two places in his
Annals13; unfortunately both are badly mutilated.
Forrer (1926), Sommer (1932) and Goetze (1933)
each restored and interpreted them differently.
The first mention is from the beginning of Mursilis’
third year. According to Forrer,14 Uhhazitis, the
ruler of Arzawa, incited the city of Millawanda to rebellion
against Ahhiyawa, whereupon the Hittite
king sent out the generals Gullas and Malazitis, who
attacked and sacked Millawanda. This would mean
that the Hittite king helped the king of Ahhiyawa against a rebellious vassal, sacking his city in the
course of this intervention. Sommer15 understood the
beginning of the passage in a similar way, but then
made the king of Ahhiyawa the subject of the sentence
“sent out Gullas and Malazitis.” Goetze showed that
the traces of the verbal form could only belong to the
first person singular preterite, not to the third,16 and
thus ruled out Sommer’s idea that the king of Ahhiyawa
employed a general with a Luwian name.
Goetze’s own understanding was that Uhhazitis took
the side of Ahhiyawa and caused the city of Millawanda
to do the same, and that Mursilis dispatched
the two generals. To me, this last reconstruction
seems the best.

In the course of his third year Mursilis conquered
Arzawa and entered its capital, Apasa, whence Uhhazitis
fled “into the sea.” He was later joined there by
his two sons.

The account of the fourth year takes the story from
there. Preserved are only the following scraps: “[. . .]
was in [ . . .] son of Uhhazitis [ . . .] and he from the sea
[. . .] with the king of Ahhiyawa [. . .] I sent by ship
[ . . . (broken verb in the third singular preterite)], and
they brought him back.””

Both Sommer and Goetze restored the first few
lines to mean that the son of Uhhazitis, who had been
“in the sea,” i.e., on an island, left that place. Thereafter
the two interpretations differ. Sommer thought18
that Mursilis sent the prince to the king of Ahhiyawa-
he completely restored “[The (Hittite) army
captured him]” in the preceding gap-continuing
with another restoration: “[Since I was by the sea] I
sent him by ship.” (Since for Sommer Ahhiyawa was
in Anatolia, this would have been along the coast.)
The following “they brought back,” according to him,
refers to (restored) captives.
Goetze restores: “[He went away] from the sea and
[came to stay] with the king of Ahhiyawa. Then I,
[My Majesty], dispatched [(someone, name lost)] by
boat. [The king of Ahhiyawa deliverled [him to him]
and they brought him back.”

Again, I prefer this last interpretation, except that I
would rather restore “he (the emissary) [took him
away]” instead of “[the king of Ahhiyawa deliverled.”
In that case the extradition mentioned by some scholars
may not have been voluntary. According to Goetze’s reconstruction, the prince leaves his island of
first refuge and goes to the king of Ahhiyawa, who
apparently is somewhere across the water, since a
ship is needed to bring the prince back. I know that
this is no proof for an overseas location of Ahhiyawa.
But since Goetze’s interpretation remains possible,
this source should not simply be dismissed.

The most famous document bearing on the relations
of Hatti with Ahhiyawa is the so-called Tawagalawa
Letter.l9 Preserved is only the third tablet (of
ca. 275 lines). From internal evidence it is clear that it
was written by a Hittite king of the New Kingdom to
a king of Ahhiyawa. The names of the two kings are
not mentioned, since this is not the beginning of the
letter. Scholars have attributed the text to Mursilis 11,
Muwatallis and Hattusilis 111. I think that Mursilis
I1 is out of the question, and of the other two, Hattusilis
is the more likely.

Throughout the letter the king of Ahhiyawa is addressed
as “My Brother.” This was the standard address
among sovereign kings of the time, such as those
of Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Mitanni and Hatti, in
their letters found at Tell el-Amarna and Bogazkijy.
The question was raised whether or not the term implies
equal rank; in other words, whether or not the
address as My Brother shows that the king of Ahhiyawa
was a Great King in the terminology of the
time. Some thought that it did, but Sommer adduced
the correspondence between the Pharaoh and the king
of Cyprus as an example of the use of this address
between rulers of unequal power.20 There is, however,
a passage in the Tawagalawa Letter that can be
interpreted as showing that the king of Ahhiyawa was
indeed considered a Great King.2 l

The Hittite king states that, having received a message
from the king of Ahhiyawa, he said: “‘If anyone
of my lords(?) had spoken to me-or one of my (other)
Brothers-I would have listened even to his word.'”
Sommer’s translation continues: “‘But now My
Brother wrote to me as a great king, my equal. The
word of one equal to me I do not hear!”‘

To my knowledge the three terms “My Brother,
Great King, my equal” can only be in apposition to one
another. Also, Sommer’s version would be rather offensive
to the addressee, in contrast to the cautious, in part even apologetic tone of the rest of the letter. I
therefore translate the second clause as a rhetorical
question. Such a question would express the Hittite
king’s displeasure with the tone of the message he had
received through subtle irony rather than through the
bluntness of Sommer’s translation. I translate: “‘But
now, My Brother, the Great King, my equal, has written
to me; shall I not listen to the word of my equal?’ So
I myself drove there.” From this I conclude that in the
early thirteenth century Ahhiyawa was indeed considered
equal to Hatti, ruled by a “Great King.”

From the latter part of the same century we have
the much debated passage in a treaty with Amurru (in
Syria)22 in which Tudhaliyas IV enumerates the
kings who are his equals: those of Egypt, Babylonia,
Assyria, and-erased-Ahhiyawa. This erasure has
been taken by some as showing that Ahhiyawa was of
equal rank, and by others, that it was not. It is true
that in the section immediately following this list
there is no mention of the king of Ahhiyawa, in contrast
to the other three kings. The text considers the
possibilities that the kings of Egypt and Babylonia
might be either friend or foe, but calls the king of
Assyria an enemy as a matter of fact. The vassal king
of Amurru is told to prevent merchants from entering
Assyria through his country. There follows (now) an
inserted paragraph about his military duties in the
war against Assyria. After that (line 23) it seems that
the original text resumes the subject of the embargo by
enjoining the vassal to let no ship of Ahhiyawa “go to
him,” i.e., unload merchandise destined for Assyria.
Thus, Sommer may be right in claiming that the
name Ahhiyawa got into the list of kings by mistake
because the scribe thought he had to include all the
countries mentioned afterward in the text. I am still
inclined to think that even so the scribe would not
have made this mistake if Ahhiyawa had been unimportant;
but I admit that the text cannot be used as
proof of its equal rank. (Intriguing is the thought that
the original paragraph now erased and replaced by
lines 19-22 might have dealt in some way with the
king of Ahhiyawa.)

Tawagalawa Letter.
The main subject of the third tablet is the affair
of a certain Piyamaradus, but for reasons not
quite clear the first sections deal with a man named
Tawagalawas or Tawakalawas. From the evidence in conthis
tablet it appears that his base of operation, if not
his residence, is the city of Millawanda. It has generally
been accepted that he was somehow close to the
king of Ahhiyawa. Forrer’s claim that he was the
king’s brother was rejected by Sommer, who thought
that he had actual proof against it.23 In the passage in
question the words “your brother” and Tawagalawa
stand side by side, each one preceded by the same
Akkadian preposition. Sommer had found no clear
example of such a repetition of the preposition with a
noun and its apposition. He also thought that a small
trace after Tawagalawa was the beginning of the Hittite
enclitic -ya, “and.” So he translated “with my
brother and Tawagalawas.” Since Sommer’s time,
good examples of the repeated preposition have been
found in texts of Hattusilis 111, and an enlarged
photograph shows that the traces cannot be the beginning
of -ya. Therefore I now return to Forrer’s translation:
“This charioteer used to step on the chariot together
with me and with your brother Tawagalawas.”
Why did the Hittite king write about this man to
the king of Ahhiyawa? Where our text begins we are
told that, after someone had destroyed the town of Attarimma,
the people of Lukka approached the Hittite
king, just as they had approached Tawagalawas, who
then came “to these countries.” So the Hittite king set
out for the same region. When he reached Sallapa, a
station on the road, he received a message from Tawagalawas,
saying: “Take me on as a vassal. Send me the
tuhkanti (so that) he will escort me to Your Majesty.”
Thereupon the king dispatched a high official, but
Tawagalawas somehow took offense and refused to go
with him. He continued by saying: “Give me the kingship
here, on the spot; if not, I shall not come!”
Why should a high-ranking Ahhiyawan, actually,
as just demonstrated, the king’s brother, seek the overlordship
of the Hittite king? The reasons, or at least
antecedents, may have been contained in the preceding
tablet. At least he asked for “kingship,” just as other
Hittite vassals were called kings. (See Addendum).
From the next station on the road the Hittite king
wrote him: “If you want my overlordship, let me not
find any of your men in Iyalanda when I get there!”
But in fact the Hittite king was attacked at Iyalanda
in three places by an unnamed “enemy,” and a certain
Lahurzi or Laharzi, “his brother” (whose? Tawagalawas’
or the unnamed enemy’s?), laid an ambush for him. Somebody, however, heeded the prohibition of
entering Iyalanda; I would restore his name, which is
lost, as Tawagalawas rather than Lahurzis. The Hittite
king takes great pains in the next lines to assure
the king of Ahhiyawa that this report of what happened
is true.

At this point Piyamaradus, who is the main object
of the greater part of the letter, enters the narrative.
The Hittite king, who was still engaged in action,
summoned Piyamaradus in a letter sent to Millawanda,
while simultaneously informing the king of
Ahhiyawa of Piyamaradus’ constant raids. The king
of Ahhiyawa replied that he had instructed Atpas to
hand Piyamaradus over to the Hittite king. So the
Hittite king went to Millawanda, where Atpas resided.
As an additional reason for going there he gave
the following: “The subjects of My Brother shall hear
the reproaches I shall make to Piyamaradus.” (From
this we learn that subjects of the king of Ahhiyawa
lived in Millawanda.) But when the king arrived,
Piyamaradus had already left Millawanda by boat.
At least Atpas and Awayanas, his sons-in-law, heard
the words of the Hittite king.

Not only Piyamaradus had left Millawanda before
the king arrived, but also Tawagalawas. At this point
the writer of the letter reminds the addressee of all the
things he did for Tawagalawas: he sent him that high
official, but he refused to go with him; now the king
came in person, only to find that he had left!
This is the end of the Tawagalawas chapter. Of the
parts concerning Piyamaradus let me only comment
on a few points.

We just read that Piyamaradus had left Millawanda
by boat. Now the writer speaks of the possibility
that this man might approach the addressee
with his plan to present himself to the king of Hatti.
So apparently Piyamaradus is now in Ahhiyawa. The
writer then assures the addressee that he has given
Piyamaradus all the guarantees of safe-conduct. In
addition he had also dispatched Dabala-Tarhuntas,
the charioteer, to stand in for him. The writer stresses
the high rank of this man by reminding the addressee
of the fact that this charioteer used to step on the chariot
with the writer and with Tawagalawas, and that
he was related to the queen. The writer also wrote to
Piyamaradus that, if the interview did not lead to a
solution satisfactory to him, one of the king’s men Tudhali would
escort him back to Ahhiyawa. Nowhere is it
said that the charioteer would do that, as some of the
advocates of putting Ahhiyawa in Anatolia have
claimed; on the contrary, Dabala-Tarhuntas “shall sit
in his place while he comes here, until he returns

We cannot follow Piyamaradus’ adventures; his
name also occurs in other texts. From the letter it
would seem that he was a protCgC of the king of Ahhiyawa,
despite his Luwian name, and a man of some

The city of Millawanda or Milawata also is mentioned
in a very fragmentary tablet that was named
the “Milawata Letter.”24 Recently Harry Hoffner
identified another fragment as joining it.25 He presented
his find to the Rencontre Assyriologique in
Vienna in July 1981 and kindly allowed me to use the
enlarged text here. I can only mention one point important
for our topic. The text is a letter of a Hittite
king to a vassal whom he addresses as “My Son.”
Since the addressee’s own father is mentioned in the
letter, it is clear that this is the address for a subordinate,
known from other examples. In one place the
added part shows that instead of “As we, My Majesty
and (you) My Son [have set] the boundaries of Milawata,”
the verb restored as “set” is really “take away”;
so the passage says: “As we, My Majesty, and (you)
My Son, took away territory of Milawata”; and a little
later: “that I did not add [(such and such places)] to
the territory of Milawata for you.”

Other results of his find are discussed by Hoffner in
his paper which is to appear in the Comptes Rendus
of the Rencontre. Here I only want to stress that instead
of Milawata/Millawanda as a Hittite dependency,
we now have a city from whose territory both
the Hittite king and his unnamed vassal enlarge their
own realms. The text is definitely late and probably
belongs to Tudhaliyas IV (second half of the thirteenth

A fragment of another historical textz6 has been
quoted to show that the king of Ahhiyawa was personally
engaged in warfare on Anatolian soil. The
fragmentary context mentions the Land of the Sheha
River and Arzawa. After the verb “made war,” whose
subject is lost, there follows the short clause which was tentatively translated by Sommer: “The king of
Ahhiyawa retreated(?).” I think that the meaning “to
take refuge with, to rely uponn attested elsewhere for
the verb in question yields a better sense here: “[(Soand-
so)] made war and relied on the king of Ahhiyawa.”
He could rely on him from a distance, without
the king’s being on the scene.
Finally it is Tudhaliyas IV again who mentioned
ships of Ahhiyawa that might arrive in the land of
Amurru in Syria, and whose scribe deleted the name
of Ahhiyawa from the list of equals.

None of the above points is real
proof for the assumption that Ahhiyawa is Greek territory,
be it in Anatolia, on one of the islands, or in
mainland Greece. But I want to say that, if the opponents
of the theory blame the advocates for being
biased in always choosing, among possible alternatives,
the one that is favorable to their views, the same
must be said of the opponents. They either choose that
interpretation which can be used against the theory or
reject all arguments that cannot be completely proved.
Common sense tells me that the Hittites must have
known the Mycenaeans, and that what they say about
Ahhiyawa fits the picture if that name refers to them.
I am not worried about the alleged linguistic difficulties:
I do not think that phonetic laws apply to foreign
names. As far as geography is concerned, I confess to
be unable to reconstruct a map of Hittite Asia Minor;
others have correctly called it “a mess.” Again, those
who put various Anatolian countries more and more
toward the Northwest do so either for the sake of an
assumed “tin route to Bohemia” or, if for other reasons,
with intentional disregard of even the possibility that Ahhiyawa may have anything to do with the

Mycenaean settlements of the Southwest. For me,
Garstang and Gurney’s reconstruction of the route to
Arzawa and the West ending in Apasa-Ephesos and
Milawata-Miletos is plausible on internal evidence,
apart from leading to the Mycenaean town at

There is no evidence for the existence of a country
Ahhiyawa in Asia Minor; the evidence from the fourteenth-
thirteenth centuries points overseas, and I
prefer mainland Greece to any of the islands as seat of
the Great King of Ahhiyawa. Attarissiyas, the man of
Ahhiy5 in the fifteenth century, is different; as I see it,
he may have come with his 100 chariots from one of
the Mycenaean settlements in the Southwest.

Students of European history will be familiar in a general way with the phenomena of the devolution of Classic cultures, the swarming forth of innumerable barbarian tribes, and the subsequent emergence of the so-called “Dark Ages”, together with the slow re-emergence of a vibrant civilization in the Mediaeval and Renaissance eras. Such a model is an oversimplification of what occured, but it is valid at least in broad descriptive outline. What is perhaps less well recognized is that such a pattern has happened, albeit on a smaller scale, before. Before the 1200’s BCE, the Eastern Mediterranean played host to a variety of sophisticated civilizations. For a variety of reasons, the 17th to 13th centuries BCE saw a general retreat, one which did not begin to reverse itself until the 9th century BCE (leading to the eventual flowering of Classic-Age civilization by the 5th century). One important factor in this process was the sudden emergence of a group of barbarian tribes known collectively as the Sea-Peoples. These raiders critically damaged the ancient civilizations of Greece, Anatolia and Syria, and seriously threatened the southern Levant and Egypt. The origins of these peoples are unknown, though it is believed that they emerged from the Aegean and may have been Minoan or Greek in origin. They referred to their own homeland as Ahhiyawa, which seems to be related to the word “Achaea”. The Hittites described their home as an island near Milawanda (Miletos, on the Ionian coast); which may refer to Rhodes, while the Bible describes their origin-point as Caphtor, which is believed to be Crete. They were technologically and artistically sophisticated, being one of the first groups in the Levant to use iron weapons. The following is a list of the documented Sea Peoples, and what linguists and archeologists believe about their origins and eventual fates…

Aelian, On Animals 15. 2 (trans. Scholfield) (Greek natural history C2nd A.D.) :
“Those who live on the shores of Okeanos [i.e. on the Atlantic coast of North Africa] tell a fable of how the ancient kings of Atlantis, sprung from the seed of Poseidon, wore upon their head the bands from the male Ram-fish, as an emblem of their authority, while their wives, the queens, wore the curls of the females as a proof of theirs.”
Through the epics of the Greek poet Homer, tales of an “age of heroes” have been passed down through millennia. In The Odyssey and The Iliad the poet told of an era dominated by aristocratic warlords who bore ornamented weapons and commanded well-organized, armored chariot troops. This “golden age” culminated in the legendary Trojan War, fought between Troy, located in what is now northwestern Turkey, and Mycenaean Greece.
Homer himself, however, lived four centuries after the Trojan War, in a time when the communities around the Aegean were populated by little more than farmers and shepherds. The tools of the day were not finely-wrought gold nor silver nor bronze, but crudely forged of iron. Nevertheless, Greeks of Homer’s time—the eighth century BC—were surrounded by powerful reminders of a more magnificent, more prosperous past. Mighty walls, some more than seven meters (22′) thick, built of boulders two meters in diameter, jutted out of the soil in some places. Every now and then, a collapsed grave would reveal treasures of gold jewelry, silver vessels, beautifully painted pottery and decorated weapons.
Since the Middle Ages, however, Homer’s historical accuracy has been in question. It was not until late in the last century that archeologi-cal excavations around the Mediterranean began to show that Homer had indeed drawn, at least in part, on real events.
Today, we know that many sophisticated feudal societies ruled the lands around the eastern Mediterranean between 1700 and 1200 BC, the Late Bronze Age. The interior of Anatolia— now part of modern Turkey—was controlled by the centrally organized Hittite state, whose Great King resided in Hattusa near the Kizihrmak River (See Aramco World, September-October 1994). It was also in this era that in Egypt, the pharaohs of the New Kingdom began construction of the famous temples at Luxor, Karnak and Abu Simbel. In Greece, small yet rich and influential kingdoms made up the Mycenaean civilization, which we have named after its most famous archeological site, Mycenae. Likewise, Syria and Palestine were the home of numerous states ruled by aristocrats and lesser chieftains.
At times these states of diverse sizes and powers were allied to one another, and at other times they fought. In most, the political system was characterized by a palace administration supported by the relatively new development of writing. In nearly all, autocratic rulers oversaw professional armies and carried out the exploitation of economic opportunities at home and abroad. Most had well-developed social hierarchies in which specialized professions produced goods of extraordinary quality. This stimulated far-reaching international trade throughout the eastern Mediterranean.
Modern excavations in the eastern Mediterranean region have also provided evidence of the sudden, violent demise of these otherwise thriving civilizations of the Late Bronze Age. Within a few years—or decades, at the most—some of these nations collapsed completely, with the large and powerful Hittite state in central Anatolia disappearing most suddenly of all. From Troy in the northwest, to Ugarit on the coast of Syria, and southwest to the Nile Delta, unidentified attackers razed and burned international trade centers and port cities. After the assaults, most of the shattered cities were either abandoned or rebuilt only on an insignificant scale. All across the eastern Mediterranean, civilizations that had been shaped by aristocrats became societies of herdsmen and shepherds. When the fighting was over, entire languages and scripts had vanished.
This sudden collapse is one of the most dramatic events in the early history of the Mediterranean, and many archeological mysteries surround it. First, there is the Homeric account of the Trojan War, which would have to be placed within this time of crisis if one accepts that The Odyssey and The Iliad contain at least a kernel of historic truth. The second group of events that connects logically with this historical turning point is the invasions of the so-called “Sea People.” Coming, it seems, out of nowhere and lacking any obvious motive, it was these united clans that so successfully attacked throughout the region. Despite numerous scholarly attempts to identify them, we still do not know exactly who the Sea People were, where they came from, why they attacked, and, finally, where they disappeared after their raids. Scholars are even uncertain whether the Sea People’s existence was a cause or an effect of the political collapses. Were the Sea People conquerors, pirates, deserters, or refugees?
Our knowledge of the Sea People’s raids rests on texts from Anatolia, Syria and Egypt. The name “Sea People” is, however, a modern expression introduced in 1881 by the French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero. The Egyptian inscriptions themselves usually refer to the names of the individual attacking tribes, who are said to have come “from the midst of the sea” or “from the islands.” What we are calling “Sea People” were clearly separate states or tribes who had formed a military alliance to attack the Near East and Egypt.
The reliefs depicting the attacks of the Sea People, carved on the walls of the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramses III in Medinat Habu, near present-day Luxor, are also the earliest known illustrations of naval battle scenes. From these walls we know—at least approximately—what the Sea People looked like, how they dressed, what kinds of weapons they used, and what kinds of ships they sailed. We even know some of their names. But to learn anything of their motives we have to examine the historical context of their raids.
According to the inscriptions, the Sea People first appeared in about 1208 BC, the fifth year of the reign of Pharaoh Merenptah. At this time, Egypt was facing attacks by Libya, its archenemy to the west, which was approaching the frontier accompanied by a number of allies described as “northerners.” On the famous Victory Stela, found in 1896 at the Temple of Merenptah in Thebes, Merenptah declared he had overwhelmed the enemy, and provided a list of the allies of Libya, whom we now refer to collectively as the Sea People: Shardana, Lukka, Meshwesh, Teresh, Ekwesh and Shekelesh. Most of these tribes apparently came from the Aegean, and we do not know why they fought on the side of Libya. Nor can we be sure Merenptah’s claim to have overpowered them is fully justified because, after this battle, Egypt’s domestic affairs gradually degenerated nearly to the point of civil war. Possibly because Egypt was so preoccupied with its internal problems that it failed to fulfill its treaty obligations to come to Hatti’s aid, it managed to survive relatively unharmed the upheavals that took place shortly thereafter all around the eastern Mediterranean.
Thirty years after Merenptah’s encounter with the Sea People, around 1177 BC, Pharaoh Ramses in ordered the construction of his own mortuary temple and residence in Thebes, on whose walls architects and scribes recalled the dramatic events of the preceding decades. According to those inscriptions, the Sea People had returned, this time to attack Mediterranean shores from Anatolia, Cyprus, Syria and Palestine to Lower Egypt. The inscription reads:
As for the foreign countries, they made a conspiracy in their islands. All at once the lands were on the move, scattered in war; no country could stand before their arms. Hatti, Kizzuwatna, Carchemish, Arzawa and Alasiya were cut off. A camp was set up in one place in Amurru; they desolated its people, and its land was like that which has never come into being. They were advancing on Egypt while the flame was prepared before them. Their league was Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denyen and Weshesh, united lands. They laid their hands upon the lands to the very circuit of the earth, their hearts confident and trusting: “Our plans will succeed!”
But Ramses and his troops defeated the invaders. When the vanquished pleaded for mercy, the pharaoh allowed them to settle on his soil:
I slew the Denyen in their isles; the Tjeker and the Peleset were made ashes. The Shardana and the Weshesh of the sea, they were made as those that exist not, taken captive at one time, brought as captives to Egypt like the sand of the shore. I settled them in strongholds bound in my name. Numerous were their classes like hundred-thousands. I taxed them all, in clothing and grain from the storehouses and granaries, each year.
Such Egyptian inscriptions, however, have to be taken with a grain of salt. Neither the scribe’s intentions nor his instructions required him to report historical truth; for him, the laws of symmetry, esthetics and religion had priority over factual accuracy. Egyptian regnal accounts often begin with the state of disarray prevailing in the country until the pharaoh whose reign is being described appears to re-establish order—that was, after all, the function of kingship. Yet, the widespread destruction all around the eastern Mediterranean, and many contemporary documents from Ugarit and Hattusa reporting similar onslaughts by mysterious attackers, confirm the gist of the Medinat Habu inscriptions.
At the time of the Sea People’s second raid on Egypt, most areas mentioned in the Medinat Habu inscriptions were either occupied by or allied to the Hittite kingdom in central Anatolia. Hence, the purpose of the raids may well have been to weaken the Great King of Hatti from his periphery, by attacking his allies. From royal correspondence from Ugarit and Cyprus, it appears that the combined fleets of the Sea People massed off the southwestern tip of the Anatolian peninsula, from where they first attacked the western coast of Cyprus.
Battles directly between the Sea People and Hittite troops may also have taken place on the Anatolian mainland, however, because extant clay tablets inscribed with diplomatic notes show how the Great King of Hatti had to turn to his vassals at the port city of Ugarit, in northern Syria, to demand additional troops and food.
But by then, Ugarit itself was threatened by the Sea People. Desperately seeking support in his turn, the adolescent king of Ugarit wrote to his royal colleague on Cyprus:
The enemy ships are already here. They have set fire to my towns and have done very great damage in the country…. Did you not know that all my troops were stationed in the Hittite country, and that all my ships are still stationed in Lycia and have not yet returned? The country is thus abandoned to itself…. Consider this, my father, there are seven enemy ships that have come and done very great damage. Now, if there are more enemy ships, let me know about them so that I can decide what to do.
This letter never left Ugarit. Archeologists found it there in a kiln, where it was supposed to be fired before the courier departed with it. At the peak of its economic and cultural success, and showing no signs of decay, Ugarit was wiped out and was never resettled again.
The pressure on the Great King of Hatti increased further. His scribes wrote one more text illustrating the Sea People’s assaults and what turned out to be a successful Hittite counterattack:
I called up arms and soon reached the sea—I, Suppiluliuma, the Great King—and with me ships of Alasiya joined battle in the midst of the sea. I destroyed them, catching them and burning them down at sea.
Soon thereafter, however, enemy forces indeed reached the Hittite capital of Hattusa. It is doubtful that they were Sea People forces; and in fact their identity is still uncertain. There may have been internal strife in Hatti, for an inscribed bronze plate found in 1986 indicates that two members of the royal family had competed for the throne. Most scholars, however, accept that a path of destruction leads out of the northeast into Hattusa, meaning that the city was most likely destroyed by the Kashka, its neighbor and bitter enemy of several centuries’ standing. The Kashka had already destroyed the Hittite capital on one occasion and forced the king to move temporarily; this time, they annihilated the 600-year-old civilization.
A similar pattern of destruction appears in most of the cities attacked by the Sea People. By targeting government buildings, palaces and temples while leaving the residential areas and countryside mostly unharmed, the attackers aimed at the control centers of the aristocratic rulership. This tactic foreshadows the strategy of today’s warfare, and is one of the earliest known examples of it. Concentrating attacks on such centers, the Sea People must have realized, preserves strength and shortens the war.
After Hattusa and Ugarit, many other cities in Anatolia, Syria and Palestine fell to the invaders. The Sea People continued their sweep to the south until they met the Egyptian army.
This generally accepted outline of the Sea People’s incursions leaves many of its most significant questions unanswered. We still do not know either the origins or the motives of the Sea People. It is also hard to understand why they did not attempt to permanently subdue the countries they overwhelmed. Finally, virtually nothing is known about the fate of the Sea People themselves following these crisis years.
Now that there is a wealth of highly specific information in hand from numerous excavations and text sources relevant to those years, scholars have become more and more inclined to think that the time has come to begin solving some of these riddles. Although a search for a unifying explanation began some time ago, and academic conferences abound on the crisis years, the Sea People, and the Trojan War, there has still been little progress toward a plausible explanation for this watershed in history. Some archeologists suggested that the Sea People may have been invaders from central Europe. Others saw them as scattered soldiers who turned to piracy, or who had become refugees. For a long time, researchers sought to explain the transformations around 1200 BC by invoking natural disasters such as earthquakes or climatic shifts, but earthquakes on such a broad geographic scale are unheard of, and no field evidence has indicated significant climatic change. Currently, very few—if any—archeologists would consider the Sea People to have been identified.
I stumbled on these problems, mostly by accident, in an unlikely place. In the spring of 1990, I was writing up the conclusions of my dissertation research, which had involved several years of investigation in the Mycenaean heartland, searching out clues to determine what the landscape of the Bronze Age had been. The work had little to do with the Sea People.
Studying numerous earth cores taken by hand augers and power drills, I had discovered that parts of the lower town of Tiryns, one of the Greek citadels from the era of the Trojan War, had been buried under several meters of mud deposited by a flash flood that had occurred around 1200 BC. This catastrophe coincided with an earthquake, for which evidence was found in the archeological record of the Tiryns citadel. Both of these events occurred shortly after 1200 BC, precisely at the time when the Mycenaean civilization suddenly collapsed.
When summarizing these conclusions, I remembered that earthquakes, floods, and the demise of a brilliant culture are also mentioned in Plato’s dialogues Timaeus and Critias . When I turned to reread these, I noticed that the philosopher’s story may well represent yet another account—thus far unrecognized—of the events of the crisis years. Plato describes two prehistoric civilizations that possessed bronze weapons, chariots and writing, and he describes how a devastating war broke out between them. Those facts, and numerous additional elements of the account, have much in common with the Trojan War: Plato mentions a navy of 1200 ships; Homer, adding up the vessels of the united Greek army, reached a total of 1186 ships. Both Plato and Homer described the opposing armies as consisting of many allies. Both also allude to severe internal problems in the Greek camp, and both relate how the attacking Greek contingents, in the end, overwhelmed the defenders.
If applied to the Trojan War, however, Plato’s account would attribute far more political, economic and military power to Troy and its allies in western Anatolia than anyone has yet credited them with. Yet, if Troy is understood to be an equal opponent of the united Greek army, then the traditional, Homeric account of the Trojan War becomes far more plausible. According to Homer, it took 100,000 Mycenaean soldiers a decade of siege to subdue Troy, a city that has thus far been believed to have been the size of a modern athletic field.
An even more novel idea that emerged from this reading of Plato’s account, however, was that it may have been Troy and its allies that in fact triggered the conflicts at the end of the Bronze Age. Plato’s source, an Egyptian priest, says:
So this host, being all gathered together, once made an attempt to enslave by one single onslaught both your country [Greece] and ours [Egypt], and the whole of the territory within the Straits.
This passage would argue that Troy and its allies were in fact the aggressors who brought on the crisis. At the same time, the passage is reminiscent of the Sea People accounts at Medinat Habu. Thus I considered a hypothesis based on simple equivalence: The Sea People may well have been Troy and its confederated allies, and the literary tradition of the Trojan War may well reflect the Greek effort to counter those raids.
From this new perspective, I realized that archeology possesses several texts that indeed describe a coalition of Late Bronze Age states in western Anatolia that appears to have played a decisive role during the transformations around 1200 BC. Homer, for instance, lists contingents on the Trojan side in The Iliad, saying that Troy’s allies came from all along the Aegean east coast between Thrace in the north and Lycia in the south. This coastal strip, including its offshore islands, coincides with the geography of what many scholars think may represent the homeland of the Sea People.
The same kind of alliance is also mentioned in several unambiguous cuneiform tablets from Hattusa. According to these documents, 22 states in western Anatolia formed a coalition against the Hittites as early as the 15th century BC. Other documents provide evidence that such a coalition was forming for a second time a few years before the Hittite state vanished. In a letter to his wife, the Great King of Hatti describes how states to the west were rallying against him, and says that it would be difficult to keep the situation under control if they succeeded. Some texts from Hattusa also show that Hatti felt increasingly threatened by one particular neighbor in the west called Ahhiyawa, a country that many scholars locate in northwestern Turkey and which thus may be Troy itself.
To take stock of the mysteries surrounding western Anatolian states at the end of the Bronze Age, we can outline today’s knowledge in the table above.
Seven of the known Late Bronze Age civilizations had all of the following attributes: a geographical region or realm, a people, at least one substantial city, a script and a contemporary name. However, in each of these categories we find one isolated entry that is somehow related to western Anatolia, but is considered mysterious or inexplicable within the parameters of traditional scholarship.
There is, first of all, the problem of Troy, one of the most formidable archeological sites in the world, whose inhabitants, realm, script and language, and contemporary name—as well as its history and fate—remain obscure despite more than 120 years of excavation and research. There are also the Sea People, whose city, realm, script and language and name are unknown: They came from nowhere and then vanished. There are the many references to Assuwa, Asiya, Ahiya and Ahhiyawa, states or confederations of states in western Anatolia, which played an important role in contemporary documents from Egypt and Hattusa, but whose city or cities, people, language and script are unknown. And finally there is the Discos of Phaistos, a unique—some would also say notorious—document, discovered on Crete in 1908, whose spiral inscription, using 45 different symbols, is inscribed on a clay disc 16 centimeters (6¼”) across. Although the origin and importance of this artifact are fiercely disputed, its discoverer, Italian archeologist Luigi Pernier, claimed parallels between the characters used in the Discos script and images of the Sea People from the Medinat Habu inscriptions. Indeed, the latest attempt by scholars to decipher the Discos even bears the title “The Language of the Sea People,” but the city, people, realm, language and name to be associated with the Discos are all unknown.
Combining all these incomplete entries into one row in our table would produce all the attributes of a complete civilization in western Anatolia. We even possess a contemporary name for such a civilization, as “Assuwa” was the term used to describe the confederated states, of which Ahhiyawa seems to have been the most important constituent. If these deductions prove correct, archeological scholarship has overlooked an entire, and important, Bronze Age civilization.
In a practical sense, the possibility that western Anatolia hosted a civilization equal—or in some respects even superior—to those of Mycenaean Greece and Minoan Crete is quite plausible. The Aegean shore of Anatolia contains countless natural harbors and advantageous places for settlement. The interior offers an abundance of natural resources including ores, timber and water, while the coastal maritime route has been of strategic and economic importance for millennia. Despite ample evidence that it was well-inhabited during the Late Bronze Age, and despite archeological evidence from Troy and Beycesultan that indicates these Anatolian societies may well have been sophisticated enough for them to rank with Greece and Crete, the thought has simply never been entertained in archeological circles. Why not?
Two characteristics of Old World archeological research methods illuminate how this may have occurred. Building on foundations in art history and philology, today’s archeology tends to concentrate on the study of architectural monuments, artifacts and documents. This tendency rests on the implicit assumption that most of the relevant aspects of any ancient culture will indeed be recorded in these remains. But the approach puts any civilization whose people built with perishable mud-brick and wood, instead of with stone, at a serious disadvantage, for the remains of their structures will not survive. Similarly, when a civilization has traded in metal, cloth, timber, grain, leather, cattle or horses, slaves and other perishable goods rather than in pottery, the evidence of that activity will not survive the centuries. And if this civilization, in addition, used papyrus, wax or leather, rather than stone or clay, to write on, then its people may become almost invisible to archeological research.
Furthermore, the art-historical emphasis in archeology tends to highlight research that deals with concrete artifacts rather than the reconstruction of past political, economic and military relations—precisely the matters in which the Late Bronze Age Anatolian states seem to have excelled. Hence, by excavating standing monuments and artifact-rich sites, European archeology itself may have contributed to a slanted picture of antiquity.
The second characteristic goes back to the birth of scientific archeology in 19th-century Europe. The founders of the discipline had absorbed the Enlightenment belief that classical Greece and Rome were superior to the cultures of modern times. Also, both 19th-century Europe and Greece of the fourth century BC were engaged in conflicts with Anatolian powers: The Ottoman Empire’s interests conflicted with those of European powers in much the same way that Troy’s conflicted with Mycenae and, later, Persia’s with classical Greece. As the culture of antiquity was presented as the model for modern culture in Europe, the antipathies born in Greece of the fourth century BC were also readopted and reinforced. All these conflicts—contemporary and historical—caused considerable anti-Anatolian sentiment.
Early archeology, as a strictly European discipline, unavoidably took up these attitudes. Johann Winckelmann, widely considered the founder of art history, regarded the ancient Greeks as “equal to the gods,” while their contemporaries abroad were “barbarians.” Later, the European university system institutionalized such attitudes through the omnipresence of ancient Greek sculpture and architecture in European institutions of higher learning.
As a result, ancient Greece was, and to a considerable extent still is, considered the cradle of Western culture, despite clear indications that several of its achievements—agriculture, metallurgy and elements of sophisticated architecture—actually came to Greece from Anatolia.
If we can clear our minds of these inherited assumptions, we find that the fall of the Late Bronze Age civilizations can indeed be plausibly reconstructed.
Early in the 14th century BC, as the power of the Minoan civilization on Crete dwindled, the many small kingdoms on the Greek and Anatolian sides of the Aegean took advantage of the vacuum. The Greek Mycenaean kings adopted the system of a palace-administered society from the Minoans, and gradually took over Cretan trade routes. Troy achieved sole control of some islands in the eastern Aegean and of the important maritime trade route through the Dardanelles to the Black Sea. It also assumed many of Crete’s functions in the metals trade. Thus both the Mycenaean and the Trojan civilizations reached the peak of their political and economic power between 1375 and 1250 BC.
Eventually, the equilibrium must have shifted. Perhaps because Greek vessels attempted to use the straits to the Black Sea for their own trade activities, a serious conflict arose between the two sides of the Aegean. Traditional accounts recall how a small Greek contingent was sent to punish Troy in about 1250 BC. In a surprise attack, Greek units succeeded in destroying the city at its absolute cultural peak.
This first Greek assault was not the legendary Trojan War. It did, however, mark the beginning of the decline of the Late Bronze Age cultures. The Trojans rebuilt their city, but this time, the archeological evidence makes clear, they built not with status in mind, but defense. Soon after the citadel of Troy was finished, both the Mycenaean kings in Greece and the Great King of Hatti reinforced their own citadels in similar fashion. The new fortresses followed a common plan: The protected area was expanded to provide shelter not only for the upper classes but also for members of the lower echelons of society; the walls were reinforced to withstand massive onslaughts; access to freshwater springs was included in the protected areas to assure water supply under conditions of siege; and finally, defense galleries and secret escape routes were incorporated into the structures. The similarities between the citadels at Hattusa and Mycenae are so striking that one might almost infer they had been jointly designed.
Hatti’s biggest concern, however, lay to the east, at the other end of Anatolia. From its heartland in upper Mesopotamia, Assyria launched a successful attack around 1236 BC, which captured copper mines on the eastern border of Hatti. Rather than confront the militarily superior Assyrian state, Hatti determined to acquire a new source of vital copper from an easier target. The Great King managed to conquer Cyprus, one of the richest mining districts in the eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, he barred ships from western Anatolia from entering the ports of his vassals in Syria, thus interrupting trade between his rivals. This blockade was just as much an act of aggression in the 13th century BC as it would be today; war became inevitable.
The first encounters between forces from western Anatolia and those of Hatti probably took place on the mainland, but eventually western Anatolian strategists developed a plan to circumvent the stronger state by sea and attack Cyprus and Syria instead. This naval assault probably occurred around 1195 BC, and it is this that became known as the Sea People invasions.
We may never find out whether the western Anatolian Sea People actually aimed to end Hatti’s hegemony over central Anatolia once and for all, or whether they were simply retaliating against Hatti’s aggressions in hope of regaining their lost trade routes. In either case, though the first battles may have been indecisive, western Anatolia soon received support from Kashka, which used Hatti’s preoccupation with the Sea People to march again toward the Hittite capital. They left it in ashes in about 1190 BC.
With Hatti destroyed, the western Anatolian states—the Sea People—suddenly found themselves commanding an area stretching from the Aegean to Palestine. Pushing farther into the Levant, they became involved in the kind of battles that are depicted on the walls of Medinat Habu. Egypt, weakened by its internal strife, was unable to overwhelm the enemy. Only one state remained powerful enough to fight the western Anatolian allies, which were led by Troy: Mycenaean Greece.
Although Greece itself may not have been attacked, it was clearly facing a difficult future with a neighbor as powerful as western Anatolia, and a neighbor, to boot, whom Greece had already offended sufficiently to earn unwavering enmity. After much preparation, a Greek army entered the battlefield, planning attacks on the centers of cities—the same strategy used by the western Anatolian states. With the Anatolians busy in the Levant and Egypt, Greek soldiers ravaged the western Anatolian heartland, forcing the Anatolians to pull back to defend their homes. Finally, the opposing armies gathered at the city whose fate would decide the outcome of this unprecedented war. The battles at Troy probably took place around 1186 BC, and they likely lasted a few months before the Greek attackers succeeded—again—in conquering the doomed city.
In an apocalyptic war, there are no winners. Many famous Greek aristocrats lost their lives in the fighting. Those who survived had a hard time reassuming leadership upon their return, because provincial deputies had assumed their thrones and the returning warriors were too weakened and impoverished to regain their titles. Greece and Anatolia entered an era of anarchy. With the disappearance of the palaces and the aristocracy, the fine craftsmanship, the artistry, and the knowledge of writing disappeared as well. The Odyssey, numerous legends, and even the Greek historian Thucydides all recount how the survivors of the Trojan War spread all around the central and eastern Mediterranean. The archeological evidence confirms the migrations, and names still found today—Sicilian, Sardinian, Etruscan, Philistine and Thracian—are first documented after the end of the crisis years.
Although the Sea People vanished from the political records, they left a legacy second to none in world history. In Palestine, where many clans from both Greece and western Anatolia sought refuge, the Philistine and Phoenician civilizations arose, reviving and spreading much of the inventiveness in metallurgy, seafaring, warfare and trade that had characterized fallen Troy and its allies. The civilization of Rome claimed to have originated with Aeneas of Troy. And the memory of Troy and the Trojan War stood firmly at the center of interest for Western scholars up through the Middle Ages. Today it still remains one of the central legends of the West, related by one of the most eloquent poets the world has ever known.

DANYA / DANNUNA They have been identified with the Danaoi, mentioned in Homer’s Iliad; another, far-fetched explanation is that they are related to the early Irish Celts (Tuatha de Danaan) – but perhaps not completely far-fetched: variants on “Danu” (the name of an ancient river Goddess) appear all over Europe [Denmark, Danube River, Don River] – there may early links. Some historians and acheologists have suggested that the Danya invaded Canaan in alliance with the Philistines but then joined the Israelite tribal confederation as the tribe of Dan. The original territory of that tribe bordered Philistia, and the Philistines seemed to bear a particular grudge against the Danites, who eventually relocated to the Galilee. EKWESH This name is very similar to the Hittite name for Greeks (Acheans). Very little is known about them. Alternatively, some have hypothesized that the Ekwesh were the Minoan-age inhabitants of the Aegean island of Cos. KARKISA A minor Sea People nation mentioned in passing in several sources and apparently coming from southern Anatolia. They may have been allied with the Lukka. LUKKA These are believed to have hailed from Lycia, and probably returned there after several unsuccessful invasions of Egypt. LABU While not Sea Peoples per se, this coalition of Libyan tribes participated in the attacks on Egypt, in conjunction with the Meshwesh and their allies. Libya (a term once used by Greeks to describe all of Africa) derives its name from them. See also Libu, for a later kingdom established by a subsequent incursion by these people into the Nile region. They are depicted in Egyptian artwork as having fair skin, red hair and blue eyes. Unlike their allies the Meshwesh, they wore kilts and were uncircumcised. The Sheshonqid (22nd) dynasty of Egypt is believed to derive from a different tribal group. * Merirey (see also Libya)…………………..c. 1230-1220 BCE MESHWESH This nation arrived on the Libyan coast from the north and invaded Egypt in alliance with Libyan tribes, in particular the Tehenu and Tumehu under a King called Merirey (see Libya and, just above, Labu) in the reign of Merneptah (roughly 1230 BCE). They were also part of the Sea People coalition (along with the Tjekker and the Philistines) who invaded Egypt during the reign of Rameses III (early 1100s BCE). Their ultimate fate is unknown. In Classical times, Herodotus described a tribe in Libya called “Maxyes” who claimed a Trojan ancestry, but he goes on to note that his report is based on hearsay. Egyptian artwork, interestingly enough, clearly depicts Meshwesh captives as being circumcised. * Buyuwawa the Libyan ? ………………………fl. c. 1200 BCE ? * Buyuwawa is spoken of as the founder of the Sheshonqid dynasty, which succeeded in gaining control over Egypt 945-715. See Libya. PELESHET These are the Philistines who settled in the southern coast of Canaan and established the pentapolis of Gaza, Gath, Ekron, Ashkelon and Ashdod. They may have invaded Canaan originally in alliance with the Israelites, who settled in the inland areas, but any collegiality quickly disappeared if Biblical records are anything to go by. The name Palestine, given to Judea by the Romans after the Jewish Wars, is believed to be derived from Philistine, although some scholars have suggested that it actually (ironically) comes from a derogatory Greek epithet for Jew. SHARDANA (Sherden)Formerly, it was thought that this people migrated out of the Hellenic region, crossed the central Mediterranean, and conquered Sardinia, which still bears a variant of their name. Recently though, it has been suggested that the migration was in the opposite direction – that they were aboriginal inhabitants of Sardinia who traveled eastward into the Hellenic littoral. A Sardinian origin is supported further by discoveries on that island of horned helmets similar to those depicted on Egyptian images of Shardana warriors. The Shardana are the first of the Sea Peoples to appear in the historical record, as Egyptian mercenaries mentioned in the Amarna letters. They later fought in both the Egyptian army and the armies of the Sea People coalitions. SHEKELESH This is believed to be the group that sacked and destroyed Ugarit. They were part of the coalition that fought Merneptah and later Rameses III. The Medinet Habu relief depicts a Shekelesh prince, who is shown bearded, with a thin prominent nose and a swept back turban, which some scholars believe to be hair. Not much else is known about them. TJEKKER / SHEKELESH The Tjekker are of uncertain origin, but they raided Egypt repeatedly before settling in northern Canaan. They may originally have been the Teucri, a tribe inhabiting northwest Anatolia around Troy. They conquered the city-state of Dor and turned it into a Tjekker kingdom. They are one of the few of the Sea Peoples for whom a ruler’s name is recorded – in the papyrus account of Wenamun, an Egyptian priest… * Beder (Prince of Dor)………………………….c. 1050 BCE * To Macedonia…………………………………191-185 * Dor fell to King David of Israel in the 990’s, and the Tjeker are not mentioned after that date. Besides the Dorite Tjekker, some scholars believe that the Tjekker may have been connected in some way with the Israelite tribe of Menasseh. See also the Teucri, in northwest Anatolia. TYRSENNOI May be related to the Etruscans, but any connection is sheer speculation – Hellenic peoples knew of them; the “Tyrhennian” Sea – derived from a Greek term – still survives as a name for the waters between Tuscany and Corsica. Beyond that, note that the Etruscan word for themselves was “Rasena”. WESHESH Their origins are unknown, though there is some evidence that they may have come from the area of Caria. Some have theorized that they, like the Danya, became part of the Israelite confederacy (as the tribe of Asher). 1. Ham: ‘Yt is observed that Cham, and his famely, were the only far Travellers, and Straglers into diverse unknowne countries, searching; exploring and sitting downe in the same; as also yt is said of his famely that what country soever the children of Cham happened to possesse, there beganne both the Ignoraunce of true godliness…and that no inhabited countryes cast forth greater multytudes, to raunge and stray into diverse remote Regions.’ Thus far the comments of one William Strachey, who added to these words in 1612 the following damning indictment, accusing Ham’s posterity of instigating: the ignoraunce of the true worship of God…the inventions of Heathenisme, and [the] adoration of falce godes and the Devill…’ cit. Hogden, p. 262. See Bibliography. (Refs: 1DB 2:515. NBD 500. JA P 1:27) 2. Cush: Josephus writes: ‘Time has not at all hurt the name of Cush; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Cushites.’ The name of Cush (originally rendered Chus in Josephus) is preserved in Egypt’s hieroglyphic inscriptions as Kush, these records referring to the country that lay between the second and third cataracts of the Nile. This same land was later known as Nubia. Additional information on this location is gleaned from the records of Esarhaddon, king of Assyria (681-668 BC), who tells us that he made himself king of Musur (see 11), of Paturisi (see 16), and Cush. Some have claimed also that the name of Cush was likewise perpetuated in that of the Babylonian city of Kish, one of the earliest cities to be built after the Flood. (Refs: 1DB 1:751. NBD 284. JA 1, vi.2. P 1:27) 3. Sebah: He founded the nation that was known to later history as the Sabaeans. Strabo writes of their city of Sabai along with its harbour of Saba (same spelling as in Josephus), which lay on the west coast of the Arabian peninsula (see Map 2). (Refs: 1DB 4:260. JA 4. Havilah: The progenitor of the Hamitic tribe of Havilah. (There were two tribes of Havilah, one of them Semitic in origin, see Shem 25.) His descendants settled on the east coast of Arabia looking out onto the Persian Gulf. Their land was known to the pre-Islamic writers as Hawlan, and to Josephus as Evilas. Kautsch renders the name as Huwailah, and confirms their settlement on the east coast of Arabia (see Map 2). (Refs: 1DB 2:537. NBD 506. JA P 1:29) 5. Sabta: Josephus records the name of his (Sabta’s) descendants as the Sabateni or Sabathes. Ptolemy knew them as the Saptha, and Pliny called them the Messabathi. They settled on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula. Sabta’s name is also preserved in that of the ancient city of Shabwat (modern Sabota), the capital of the Hadramaut (Hazarmaveth. See Shem 16). (Refs: 1DB 4:146. NBD i112.JA P 1:27) 6. Raamah: We know from the inscriptions of ancient Sheba (see 7) that Raamah’s descendants settled near to the land of Havilah (see 4), and to the east of Ophir (see Shem 24). They are known from other sources to have traded with the children of Zidon (see 22) in the city of Tyre. Ptolemy agreed with the LXX in the name Ragma, which Josephus rendered Ragmas. There is still a place called Raamah near Ma’in in south-west Arabia (see Map 2). (Refs: 1DB 4:1. NBD 1072. JA P 1 7. Sheba: Minaean inscriptions from the north Yemen, and which date to the 9th century BC, tell us that Sheba was that kingdom’s southern neighbor. The land of Sheba is also known to us from Assyrian inscriptions of the 8th century BC. Sheba was famous as the Land of Spices (there were four ‘spice kingdoms’–Minaea, Kataban, and Hadramaut.) (See Shem 16), and we know from the vast archaeological ruins, some of whose walls still stand some 60 feet above the desert sands, that the land was extremely fertile, being watered by ingenious irrigation systems controlled by a great dam that once spanned the river Adhanat. In the year 542 BC, the dam collapsed after more than a thousand years of service, an event that is recalled in the Koran and described there as a judgment of God upon the people.(Refs: 1DB 4:311-2. NBD 1171.JA1, vi.4. P 1:27) 8. Dedan: His posterity are known to have traded with the Phoenicians. Identified from various cuneiform inscriptions, their main place of settlement was the city that is known today as Al-ula, and which lies some 70 miles south-west of modern Taima (see Shem 62 and Map 2). (Refs: 1DB 1:812. NBD 305) 9. Sabtecha: Identified by Josephus as the Sabactens or Sabactas, Sabtecha’s descendants appear to have settled in southern Arabia, the modern Yemen (see Map 2). (Refs: 1DB 4:146. NBD 1112.JA P 1:27) 10. Nimrod: Writing in 1876, George Smith tells us that: ‘Nearly thirteen hundred years before the Christian era, one of the Egyptian poems likens a hero to the Assyrian chief Kazartu, ‘a great hunter… and it has already been suggested that the reference here is to the fame of Nimrod. A little later, in the BC 1100 to 800, we have in Egypt many persons named Nimrod, showing a knowledge of the mighty hunter there.’ (Chaldean Genesis. p. 313). Nimrod was undoubtedly the most notorious man in the ancient world who is credited with instigating the Great Rebellion at Babel, and of founding the vs, astrology and even human sacrifice. Moreover, there is much evidence to suggest that he himself was worshipped from the very earliest times. His name, for example, was perpetuated in those of Nimurda, the Assyrian god of war; Marduk, the Babylonian king of the gods; and the Sumerian deity Amar-utu. His image was likewise incorporated very early on in the Chaldean zodiac as a child seated on his mother’s lap, and both mother and child were worshipped, she as the Queen of Heaven, and he as her erstwhile sacrificial son, the precursor of today’s worship of the Madonna and Child. Nimrod was also worshipped by the Romans under the name of Bacchus, this name being derived from the Semitic bar-Cush, meaning the son of Cush. A mountain not far from Ararat, has been called Nimrud Dagh (Mount Nimrod) from the earliest times since the Flood, and the ruins of Birs Nimrud bear the remains of what is commonly reputed to be the original Tower of Babel. The Caspian Sea was once called the Mar de Bachu, or Sea of Bacchus, as is witnessed by the map appearing in Sir Walter Raleigh’s History of the World, published in 1634. One of the chief cities of Assyria was named Nimrud, and the Plain of Shinar, known to the Assyrians as Sen’ar and the site of the Great Rebellion, was itself known as the Land of Nimrod. Iraqi and Iranian Arabs still speak his name with awe, and such was the notoriety of the man that his historical reality is beyond dispute (see Map 2). (Refs: 1DB 3:551. NBD 888. JA P 1:27) 11. Mizraim: A collective name, these people settled in Egypt. Modern Israelis still use the name for that country; it is preserved as Msrm in the Ugaritic inscriptions; as Misri in the Amarna tablets; and in the Assyrian and Babylonian 4 records as Musur and Musri respectively. Modern Arabs still know it as Misr. Josephus (rendering the name Mesraites) relates a curious episode that he called the Ethiopic War, incident that was apparently well-known throughout ancient world. According to Josephus, some six or sevev nations descended from the Mizraim were destroyed, clearly a major conflict that would have had profound far-reaching repercussions in the world of those times. Josephus lists those nations as the Ludim (see 12); the Anamim (see 13); the Lehabim (see 14); the Naphtuhim (see 15); the Pathrusim (see 16); the Cashuhim (see 17); and the Caphtorim (see 19). (Refs: 1DB 3:409. NBD 833. JA Lvi.2. P 1:27) 12. Ludim: Seemingly known in later records as the Lubim (which Josephus rendered Ludicim) this people settled on the north coast of Africa and gave their name to the land of Lybia. They are known to have provided Egypt on more than one occasion with mercenary troops. The records that tell us this give the Ludim’s name as Lebu. Otherwise, Josephus records their destruction, or rather defeat, in the Ethiopic War (see Map 3). (Refs: 1DB 3:178-9. NBD 755.JA P 1:28) 13. Anamim: Few occurrences of this name can now be found in the surviving records. This may be due to the devastations of the Ethiopic War. However, the Assyrian king, Sargon II, does tell us in his inscriptions of the land of the A-na-mi which lay adjacent to that of Kaptara (see 19). Josephus rendered the name Enemim. (Refs: 1DB 1:124. JA 1. vi.2. P 1:28) 14. Lehabim: The Egyptians recorded this name as ‘rbw’, although it is uncertain where they settled. Some authorities (including Josephus who renders the name Lybyos) give Lybia (Libya) as their country. This people were, however, destroyed in the Ethiopic War (Refs: 1DB 3:110. NBD 728. JA 1. vi.2. P 1:28) 15. Naphtuhim: This people are known to have settled in Nile delta and the western parts of Egypt, where early cords refer to them as the p’t’mhw–literally, ‘they of the marshland.’ Their name also appears as Na-patob-im in the same records. Josephus records their destruction in the Ethiopic War (see Map 3). (Refs: 1DB 3:510. NBD 865. P 1:28) 16.Pathrusim: The people of this name migrated to Upper Egypt, where the Egyptians recorded their name as the p’t’r or Ptores. The district of Pathros thus bears their name Esarhaddon, king of Assyria from 681-668 BC, records hi conquest of the Paturisi, thus showing that this particular tribe at least were not totally destroyed in the Ethiopic War as asserted by Josephus, who renders the name Phethrosim (see Map 3) (Refs. IDB 3:676. NBD 938. JA 17. Casluhim: The precise whereabouts of their country is uncertain, although the book of Genesis does record that the Philistines came from this people. Some cite Crete as their possible place of settlement, which, if true, would make the Ethiopic War of Josephus a truly international conflict, as he records the destruction of the Casluhim in that war. This, however, only serves to make Crete a most unlikely place for their settlement, the northern areas of Egypt being a far more reasonable proposition (but see 18 and 19 and Map 3). Josephus gives their name as the Chesloim. (Refs: 1DB 1:541. NBD 201. JA P 1:28) 18. Philistim: Better known to us as the Philistines, they were known to the Assyrians as the Palashtu and the Pilisti, and to the Greeks as the Palastine–hence the later name of Palestine. After the Assyrian conquests of the 8th century BC, the Philistines effectively disappear as a coherent nation. It is currently but wrongly believed that the Philistines did not appear until the 13th century BC, and that they are to be identified as the ‘Sea Peoples’ of Egyptian literature. But this view is erroneous. The Genesis record states emphatically that the Philistim occupied parts of Canaan as early as the time of Abraham, and far from implying that their place of origin was Crete, as currently taught, it is much more likely to have been northern Egypt (but see 19 and Map 3). (Refs: 1DB 3:791-5. NBD ‘Philistines’ 988-991. JA P 1:28) 19. Caphtorim: Some confusion has reigned in recent years over the question of the geographical location of Caphtorim. This is mainly due to modernist efforts to identify Caphtor as Crete. This would allow the assertion that the Philistines (see 18) were the Sea Peoples of the 13th century BC, and that the Genesis record therefore errs when it speaks of the Philistines as the 19th century BC conTemporaries of Abraham. In opposition to this view, however, the Genesis record gives the common sense and verifiable place of the Caphtorim’s settlement as Egypt, or Mizraim (see 11) where the name of the Caphtorim was rendered Keftiu in a record that is conventionally dated to ca 2200 BC. Genesis tells us that the Caphtorim were descended from the Mizraim, and, through the absence of any qualifying remarks, leaves us with the strong implication that the Caphtorim therefore dwelt on the mainland of Egypt or North Africa either amongst, or in close proximity to, their forebears the Mizraim. Only the descendants of Japheth are said to have occupied the isles of the sea, e.g. Cyprus or Crete et al, whereas this qualification is entirely absent with either the Semitic or Hamitic race. The early Cretans, we know, were not a Hamitic people, but rather were Indo-European in race, language and culture, which confirms their descent from Japheth (and not Ham) as provided in the Genesis account. Furthermore, Josephus relates the involvement and subsequent defeat of the Caphtorim (whom he names the Cephtorim) in the Ethiopic War, a conflagration that was confined to the borders of Egypt and Ethiopia, and which did not, as far as we know, involve the isles of the sea. Moreover, Jeremiah 47:4 describes the Philistines as the ‘remnant of the country of Caphtor’, thus implying that by his own day the Caphtorim were a depleted nation. There is also strong evidence of a direct etymological link between the ai-Kaphtor of the Old Testament and the Aiguptos of Greek literature, Aiguptos being merely the archaic form of the western name for Egypt. That Caphtor’s descendants were mainland dwellers is also confirmed in the Assyrian inscriptions in which they are named as the Kaptara; and in the Ugaritic inscriptions as the ‘kptr’. Later, Egyptian records speak of the ‘kftyw’ or Kaphtur, a term that was used in relation to Phoenicia, not Crete. Intriguingly, the Septuagint translates the name as Kaphtoriim in Genesis 10:14; whereas in the book of Deuteronomy (2:23) the name is rendered Kappadokes or Cappadocians. Likewise, the Latin Vulgate gives the rendering Caphtorim in Genesis 10:14, thus following the original Hebrew; whereas in Deuteronomy 2:23 it follows the Greek Septuagint in the rendering Cappadoces and Cappadocia–Cappadocia, of course, referring to mainland Asia Minor. Thus, to identify the Caphtorim as early Cretans is clearly untenable. (Refs: 1DB 1:534. NBD 199. JA P 1:28) 20. Put: The country in which the descendants of Put settled is well known to us from Egyptian records, which render the name Put or Punt. (Josephus calls it Phut.) It is always spoken of as closely associated with Egypt, and its close geographical proximity to Egypt is confirmed by an inscription from the archives of Darius the Great, king of Persia from 522-486 BC. Here the land of Puta is shown as lying in the proximity of Cyrenaica, i.e. on the North African coast to the west of Egypt. This same land was known as Puta to the Babylonians, and as Putiya in the Old Persian inscriptions (see Map 3). (Refs: 1DB 3:971. NBD 1066. JA P 1:27) 21. Canaan: The posterity of Canaan settled in the land that was later to be given to Israel. At the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan, the population consisted of all the tribes descended from Canaan (see 22-32). Both Sanchuniathon and Phylo of Byblos confirm the fact that the Canaanites derived their name from their founder. The Greeks and Phoenicians rendered the name Kna’an; the Egyptians knew it as Kn’nw and Kyn’nw; the Assyrians rendered the name Kinnahu; and the Hurrians described certain dyed cloths as Kinahne or Canaanite cloth. In spite of their Hamitic descent, however, the Canaanites spoke a Semitic language (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 1:494. NBD 183-6. JA P 1:27) 22. Zidon: He settled, with his descendants, on the Mediterranean coast of Canaan, where his name is still perpetuated in the modern-day city of Sidon. Originally known as Zidonians, his posterity were later known as Phoenicians. They are known to us from many and various inscriptions of the old world, the Akkadians, for example, rendering the name Sidunu, and the Armana tablets as Sa’idunu (see Map 4). Josephus adopted this spelling when he rendered the name Sidonius. (Refs: 1DB 4:343-5. NBD ‘Sidon’ 1184-5. JA P 1:28) 23. Heth: Heth was the progenitor of the Hittite nation, whose name was known to the Assyrians as the Khatti. The Hittites were apparently the first nation to smelt iron on any appreciable scale. The Armana tablets contain letters that were sent between the Hittite emperor Subbiluliuma and Amenhotep IV of Egypt. Rameses II tells us how he engaged the Hittites in what was the earliest recorded battle involving massed battle chariots. This was the famous battle of Kadesh, and it appears that the Hittites got the better of the Egyptian forces. Heth’s name was perpetuated in the Hittite capital of Hattushash, modern Boghazkoy in Turkey (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 2:597. NBD ‘Hittites’ 528-9. P 1:28) 24. Jebusite: The posterity of Jebus (whom Josephus knew as Jebuseus) settled in the mountainous regions of Judea where, due to their strong and natural fortifications they were able to withstand the armies of Israel. The chief city of the Jebusites came later to be known as Jerusalem, the Urusalimmu of the Armana tablets. (Refs: (1DB 2:807. NBD 601-2. JA P 1:28) 25. Amorite: Known to the Sumerians as the Martu, and to the Akkadians as the Ammurru, this people settled in the land of Canaan. They appear to have initially adopted a nomadic way of life, although they were soon to organise themselves into a very powerul and aggressive nation. Indeed, the Amorites later came to conquer Babylonia, subsequently producing one the most famous of Babylonian kings, Hammurabi, whose name perpetuates the designation Annurru. Josephus the name as Amorreus (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 1:115. NBD 31-2. JA l. vi.2. P 1:28) 26. Girgashite: The name of the Girgashites has been discovered in the Ugaritic inscriptions as ‘grgs’ and ‘bngrgs’, in other words Girgash and the sons of Girgash. They are also known to us in Hittite documents as the Karkisa or Qaraqisha; and in Egyptian records as the Kirkash. They settled to the east of the river Jordan, between Galilee and the Dead Sea, and their descendants are probably to be identified with the Gadarenes of the NT. Josephus rendered the name Gergesus (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 2:399. NBD 471. JA P 1:28) 27. Hivite: Known to the ancient Greeks as the Heuaios, and to Josephus as Eueus, this people moved from Canaan to the foothills of Lebanon during the Israelite conquest under Joshua. King Solomon was later to use Hivites as builders (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 2:615. NBD 529. JA P 1:28) 28. Arkite: This people come to our notice in the inscriptions of Shalmaneser II and Tiglath-pileser III, both kings of Assyria, and both of whom describe the Arkites as ‘rebellious’. The Arkites were known also to the Egyptians and are mentioned in the Armana tablets as the Irkata. They were known for their worship of Astarte. Their city is known to this day as Tell-Arqa, a place known to Thutmose III of Egypt as Arkantu. Josephus calls it Arucas, and it was known to the Romans as Caesari Libani (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 1:226. NBD 82. JA P 1:28) 29. Sinite: The name of this people is still to be found in the modern-day towns of Nahr as-Sinn and Sinn addarb, which are both in close proximity to Arqa (see 28). The Phoenicians knew the Sinites as the Usnu; the Assyrians called them the Usana and Siannu; and the Ugaritic tablets refer to them as the ‘sn’. Strabo called their town Sinna, and Heironymous rendered it civitas Sini (which Josephus gave as Sineus), (see Map 4).(Refs: 1DB 4:379. NBD 1194. JA P 1:28) 30. Arvadite: This people settled on the island that bore their founder’s name, Arvad. Today it is called Ruad and lies north of the bay of Tripoli about two miles out to sea. The Arvadites were famed in the old world for their skilful seamanship, drawing for this even the grudging admiration of the Assyrians. Later, the Arvadites were to play an important part in the conquests of Alexander the Great. The Arvadites were known in the Armana tablets as the Arwada, to the Akkadians as the Aruda, and the Armana tablets as Aruadi. Josephus renders the name Arudeus (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 1:242. NBD 93. JAl. vi.2. P 1:28) 31. Zemarite: The posterity of Zemar were known to the Assyrians as the Simirra, and to the Egyptians as the Sumur. The name is still perpetuated in the modern city of Sumra, just north of Tripoli. (Refs: 1DB 4:950. NBD 1357-8. P 1:28) 32. Hamathite: The city where this people settled lay on the Orontes, and was named after their forebear, Hamath. Sargon II of Assyria tells us how he conquered the city, and it was at Hamath that Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian armies in 605 BC. The city was known to the Akkadians as Amatu, to the Egyptians as Hmtu, and to the Arabs as Hamat. The Greeks and Romans subsequently knew the city as Epiphaneia, although today it has reverted to its ancient name, Hamah. In 853 BC the men of Hamath were able to successfully defeat Assyrian advances in the west by mobilizing an army of no less than 63,000 foot soldiers, 2,000 light horsemen, 4,000 battle chariots and 1,000 camels. This is the Assyrian estimate of their forces, not an exaggerated Hamathite boast! (see Map 4). (Refs: 1DB 2:516. NBD 501. P 1:28) The Sea People, who we are told of on reliefs at Medinet Habu and Karnak, as well as from the text of the Great Harris Papyrus (now in the British Museum), are said to be a loose confederation of people originating in the eastern Mediterranean. From their individual names, we believe that they may specifically have come from the Aegean and Asia Minor. However, regardless of their organization as a “loose confederation”, they did manage to invade Egypt’s northern coast and apparently mounted campaigns against the Egyptians on more than one occasion. The 12th century brought dramatic changes that permanently affected Asia Minor and the civilized world of that time. Between 1200 and 1176 BC, the chaos that occurred in that region was probably a direct outcome of Sea People activity, and may be one reason why we find it difficult to find historical documentation beyond that date in Asia Minor. We actually believe that the Sea People became active as early as the reign of Akhenaten. These were probably the Denen, Lukka and Sherden. The Lukka and Sherden are also recorded, along with the Peleset as serving as mercenaries in the army of Ramesses II, especially at the Battle of Qadesh. In fact, Ramesses II had earlier been forced to defend himself against attempts by the Sherden to establish a chain of efforts to the west of Egypt. They had arrived in that area almost a century earlier, and are said to have included the Libu, who would eventually give their name to Libya. An inscription of Ramesses II relates in the 8th year of his reign (which is dated c. 1176 BC): “No land could stand before their arms, from Hatti, Qode, Carchemish, Arzawa and Alasiya on, being cut off at one time. A camp was set up in one place in Amurru. They desolated its people, and its land was like that which has never come into being. They were coming toward Egypt, while the flame was prepared before them. Their confederation was the Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denyen, and Weshesh, lands united. They laid their hands upon the land as far as the circuit of the earth, their hearts confident and trusting: ‘Our plans will succeeded!’ Medinet Habu Inscription Various scholars have tried to place these people with recognizable regions. We are told by ancient text that they came from Ahhiyawa. However, we are told that the Sea People included: * The Peleset, who were non other than the Philistines that gave their name to Palestine. * The Lukka who may have come from the Lycian region of Anatolia. * The Ekwesh and Denen who seem to be identified with the Homeric Achaean and Danaean Greeks * The Sherden who may be associated with Sardinia. * The Teresh (Tursha or Tyrshenoi – possibly the Tyrrhenians), the Greek name for the Etruscans; or from the western Anatolian Taruisa * Shekelesh (Shekresh, Sikeloi – Sicilians?) A Sherden Soldier from the Battle of Qadesh depicted on the Temple of Ramesses II at AbydosIt would seem that, rather then bands of plunderers, the Sea People were probably part of a great migration of displaced people. The migration was most likely the result of widespread crop failures and famine. In fact, we learn from an inscription at Karnak that Merenptah had already sent grain to the starving Hittites. However, after causing havoc in Mycenaen Greece and elsewhere, they finally arrived on the Delta coast between Cyrenaica and Mersa Matruh. This area was, during this period, seasonally occupied by foreign seafarers sailing from Cyprus via Crete to the Egyptian Delta, so perhaps the initial settlement was not cause for alarm. Here, however, the Sea People joined with the Libyan tribes creating a strong force of some 16,000 men. As they began to enter Egypt, the warriors were usually accompanied by their wives and families, and it appears that they carried their possessions in ox-drawn cards, prepared to settle down though whatever territory they transverse. After organizing themselves with the Libyans, they began to penetrate the western Delta, and were moving southwards towards Memphis and Heliopolis. Ramesses III smiting the Sea PeopleThis first attack of the Sea people occurred during the 5th regnal year of Merenptah, the 19th Dynasty ruler and son of Ramesses II, and it seems that at first it took that king by surprise. Of course, Merenptah could not allow the Sea People to advance on Egypt’s most sacred cities, and it seems that he put an end to this in a six hour battle by killing more than six thousand of them and routing the rest. Those Sea People who were captured appear to have been settled in military colonies located in the Delta, where their descendants would become an increasingly important political factor over time. Moshe Dothan’s excavations at the Philistine city of Ashdod between 1962 and 1969, which uncovered a burnt layer dating to the 13th century BC, may correspond to this event, or to the arrival of the Peleset themselves in the area. Merenptah’s victory was recorded on the walls of the Temple of Amun at Karnak and on the document we often refer to as the Israel Stele from his funerary Temple. However, the Sea People’s alliance appears to have remained strong, for afterwards they destroyed the Hittite empire, ransacking the capital of Hattusas, and were probably responsible for the sacking of the client city of Ugarit on the Syrian coast, as well as cities such as Alalakh in northern Syria. Cyprus had also been overwhelmed and its capital Enkomi ransacked. It was clear that their ultimate goal was Egypt. In the 8th regnal year of Ramesses III, they again returned to attack Egypt, by both land and sea. Ramesses III records that: “The foreign countries made a plot in their islands. Dislodged and scattered by battle were the lands all at one time, and no land could stand before their arms, beginning with Khatti [1], Kode [2], Carchemish [3], Arzawa [4], and Alasiya [5]… A camp was set up in one place in Amor [6], and they desolated its people and its land as though they had never come into being. They came, the flame prepared before them, onwards to Egypt. Their confederacy consisted of Peleset, Tjekker, Sheklesh, Danu, and Weshesh, united lands, and they laid their hands upon the lands to the entire circuit of the earth, their hearts bent and trustful ‘Our plan is accomplished!’ But the heart of this god, the lord of the gods, was prepared and ready to ensnare them like birds… I established my boundary in Djahi [7], prepared in front of them, the local princes, garrison-commanders, and Maryannu. I caused to be prepared the rivermouth like a strong wall with warships, galleys, and skiffs. They were completely equipped both fore and aft with brave fighters carrying their weapons and infantry of all the pick of Egypt, being like roaring lions upon the mountains; chariotry with able warriors and all goodly officers whose hands were competent. Their horses quivered in all their limbs, prepared to crush the foreign countries under their hoofs. ” Defeated Philistines being led into captivityAgain, Egypt seems to have been ready for this onslaught, for they have positioned troops at Djahy in southern Palestine and fortified the mouths of the Nile branches in the Delta. The clash, when it came was a complete success for the Egyptians. The Sea Peoples, on land, were defeated and scattered but their navy continued towards the eastern Nile delta. Their aim now, was to defeat the Egyptian navy and force an entry up the river. Although the Egyptians had a reputation as poor seamen they fought with the tenacity of those defending their homes. Ramesses had lined the shores with ranks of archers who kept up continuous volleys of arrows into the enemy ships when they attempted to land. Then the Egyptian navy attacked using grappling hooks to haul in the enemy ships. In the brutal hand to hand fighting which ensued the Sea People are utterly defeated. Ramesses III recorded his victory in stone on the outer walls of his mortuary Temple at Medinet Habu and the author of the Harris papyrus included the accounts of these campaigns as well. He tells us that: “As for those who reached my boundary, their seed is not. Their hearts and their souls are finished unto all eternity. Those who came forward together upon the sea, the full flame was in front of them at the rivermouths, and a stockade of lances surrounded them on the shore. ” The Sea Battle of Ramesses III’s Encounter with the Sea People The Sea Battle of Ramesses III’s Encounter with the Sea People While the Sea People forever changed the face of the Mediterranean world, they never succeeded in conquering Egypt, and their presence in Syria-Palestine does not at first seem to have affected Egypt’s sway over its northern territories. [1] Khatti: The Hittite empire in Anatolia, Hatti [2] Kode: Cilicia [3] Carchemish: City on the Euphrates in northern Syria [4] Arzawa: Country in western Anatolia, allied to Hatti [5] Alasiya: Cyprus [6] Amor: Amurru in northern Syria [7] Djahi: region in Canaan, possibly in the Judean hills Troy = Wilusa In their paper, Cinnioglu et al mention the localized presence of J2f-M67 (now called J2a1b): “The J2f-M67 clade is localized to Northwest Turkey It is well known that during this period, Northwest Anatolia developed a complex society that engaged in widespread Aegean trade referred to as “Maritime Troia culture,” involving both the western Anatolian mainland and several of the large islands in the eastern Aegean, Chios, Lemnos and Lesbos (Korfmann 1996) ” (Cinnioglu et al 2004: 133) This finding was discussed in “Y Chromosomal Haplogroup J as a Signature of the Post-Neolithic Colonization of Europe” (2004) by Di Giacomo et al (see our page on The Balkans) What is less clear is whether we should now support: Hypothesis #1 J2a1b originated in Anatolia and spread westward; or Hypothesis #2: J2f-M67 (now called J2a1b) originated in the Balkans and radiated outwards (including eastward, back to Anatolia) It appears from their discussion that Di Giacomo et al (2004) favour Hypothesis #2, that is, a particular Aegean dispersal of J2a1b-M67(xM92) and J2a1b1-M92, “coincident with the expansion of the Greek world to the European coast of the Black Sea”, which leads us to interpret an eastward movement from Greece to Anatolia (which is not to eliminate the possibility that Greek migrations of J2a1b additionally moved in other directions, such as eastward) Let us keep in the back of our minds, but put to one side, the other J2 lineage (identified with the M12 marker) that Cruciani et al (2007) argue expanded from southeastern Europe, also specifically from the Balkan peninsula, during the Bronze Age Let us consider the possibility of an Anatolian origin for J2a1b (Hypothesis #1) and place it in the archaeological context Recall that Cinnioglu et al referred to the “Maritime Troia culture” The Maritime Troia culture has been associated with archaeological excavations of Troia I, II and III which date to the early Bronze Age (circa 2600-2300 B C ) The next settlement period on the site of Troy, associated with levels Troia IV and V (circa 2300-1700 B C ) have been designated the “Anatolian Troia Culture”, to reflect the latter’s stronger connection to the interior of Asia Minor during the middle Bronze Age (See: http://www uni-tuebingen de/troia/st/six/ab/english/ab1eng html) Immediately afterwards is a period lasting five hundred years distinguished by unique architecture and culture, associated archaeologically with Troia VI and VIIa (1700-1200 B C ) “Troy” and “Troia” are names of recent origin The Hittite kingdom of central Anatolia, known as Hattusa, referred to the city we now call Troy as Wilusa See for example the clay tablet that constitutes a treaty between the great Hittite King Muwattalli II (ca 1290-1272 B C ) and the ruler of Wilusa, Alaksandu (Latacz 2001) The city of Wilusa was destroyed in a great conflagration around 1200 B C It has been pointed out that Homer may have made this the culminating event of the Illiad, which gets its name from the title city, Ilios (the Greek (W)ilios) The archaeological record, however, cannot establish whether it was the people of Ahhiyawa (the Acheaens) who participated in the fire that destroyed Wilusa Vanished Peoples of the Late Bronze Age The end of the Bronze Age-approximately 1200 BC-was a time of collapse, turbulence, and historical change throughout the civilized world Most evidence of that period has been lost, the result of the passage of time and the disappearance of once numerous ancient records Knowledge of certain peoples of the Bronze Age-Greeks, Israelites, Assyrians, Egyptians, and Babylonians-has never entirely disappeared But many other peoples or ethnic groups have been completely forgotten, and their contribution to history have disappeared with them In some cases, however, the work of modern archaeolgy has resulted in the rediscovery of certain peoples long vanished and, after a lapse of over three thousand years, at least something of their role in history is recognized once again “Shasu” people, shown as captives From an Egyptian sculptural relief Among those “vanished” peoples of whom something is known again and who are important for the understanding of the end of the Bronze Age are the following: Hittites: Egyptian records, translated in the 1800’s, briefly noted a people called Kheta (or Khata, or Khita) But who were they Nothing was known of them until early in the 1900’s, when the capital of the Hittites was discovered in central Turkey There, a vast collection of their official records was found Translation proceeded rapidly As a result, much Hittite history is now known The Hittites were a relatively small group, but through skilled and determined military activity and state-craft over centuries, they came to dominate a region from the Aegean Sea through Syria It was the largest empire of the Late Bronze Age Then, mysteriously, the Hittites and the Hittite empire disappeared Hurrians: Like the Hittites, Hurrians were briefly mentioned in Egyptian records, but essentially nothing was known about them With the discovery and translation of the Hittite records, and the results of archaeolgical excavation in several places in the Near East, something is now known Hurrians occupied the mountains and valleys of eastern Turkey and northern Iraq For a time, they were able to maintain a limited empire, and they challenged the power of the Hittites Hurrians placed kings on the throne as far south as Jerusalem Then, like the Hittites, traces of them vanished Strange among the Hurrians was their leadership, which seemed to have been Indian (Asian Indian), though the Hurrians were not Arzawa: Hittites records frequently mention Arzawa, a land to the west Arzawa was a a powerful state which, over centuries, contested with the Hittites for dominance in the region until finally overcome by superior Hittite military power With the end of Hittite records, no more is heard of Arzawa Hittite records mention other nearby people or states of the Bronze Age-Mira, Seha, Kaska, Lukka All vanished from history but the Lukka, known in later years as Lycians Ahhiyawa:The Hittites wrote of Ahhiyawa, a land to the west, in the direction of Greece Linguists have debated whether the name “Ahhiyawa” is the Hittite equivalent of the Greek term “Achaean,” by which Homer referred to the Greeks Linguists could not settle the matter but circumstantial evidence supports that identification It appears that this is the earliest known reference to Greece, or part of it Hittite records mention an individual from Ahhiyawa named Attarissiyas, and this is the earliest record of a Greek name Greeks have not vanished from history, but the name of the land, Ahhiyawa, disappeared until the Hittite records were found and translated Trojans: Trojans, the Trojan War, and ancient Troy are well known from Homer’s Iliad However, Homer lived and composed his great works at least four hundred years after the collapse of the Bronze Age, so that the Iliad is not a conTemporary record of Bronze Age Troy Hittite records of the Bronze Age mention a land of Wilusa which many scholars take to be Troy Something of the Bronze Age history of Wilusa-Troy is known from Hittite records These show that Troy was a subordinate ally of the Hittites, bound to the Hittites by treaty The records also mention a king of Wilusa-Troy named Alaksandus He could have been the model for Alexander (Paris) of the Iliad Hapiru: In Bronze Age records of Syria, Canaan, and Egypt a group referred to as Hapiru or Apiru were often mentioned Ancient records indicate that the Hapiru were not an ethnic group in the usual sense, but a group of the socially displaced who banded togther for survival-an ancient version of Robin Hood’s “merry men ” Hapiru hired out as mercenary soldiers, or fought opportunistically in their own interest, occasionally attacking Canaanite cities The name Hapiru suggested the name “Hebrew” or “Hebrews” to scholars, and though the connection is now rejected, it cannot be entirely ruled out Shasu: Egyptian records tell of the Shasu They are largely herders of flocks, living in and moving through the semi-arid lands of Syria, Canaan, and Sinai Egyptian illustrations often show them in scenes of combat, and as captives Some scholars believe that certain of these Shasu were the forefathers of ancient Israel, earliest Israelites, still in the partly nomadic phase as described of the biblical Patriarchs Philistines: At the end of the BronzeAge, invaders came by sea and attacked Egypt, or landed on the nearby coast of Canaan They were the “Peoples of the Sea,” and their leaders were the Philistines Egyptian reliefs show them, and the Egyptian report of the Philistines is earlier than the earliest biblical record of them The origin of the Philistines is a mystery Philistines settled on the coast of Canaan, and were for a time a distinct people, but eventually merged invisibly into the local population ”

Medinet Habu is a mortuary temple that was constructed for Ramesess III at Thebes, in Upper Egypt. The temple decoration consists of a series of reliefs and texts telling of the many exploits of the king, from his campaign against the Libyans to, most importantly, his war against the Sea Peoples.
The texts and reliefs that deal with the Sea Peoples date to year eight of Ramesess III’s reign, approximately 1190 BCE. The significance of these texts is that they provide an account of Egypt’s campaign against the “coalition of the sea” from an Egyptian point of view. In the inscriptions, Ramesses alludes to the threat the Sea Peoples posed, as can be seen in this portion of text:

…the foreign countries made a conspiracy in their islands. All at once the lands were removed and scattered in the fray. No land could stand before their arms from Hatti, Kode, Carchemish, Artawa, and Alashiya on being cut off [at one time]. A camp was [set up] in one place in Amor. They desolated its people and its land was like that which has never come into being. (Medinet Habu, Year 8 inscription.)

The inscriptions go on to specify the groups which were involved in the “confederation”: Peleset, Tjeker, Shekelesh, Denyen, and Weshesh.
Although Ramesses III boasts of his defeat of the Sea Peoples’ coalition on land and sea, the portion of text quoted above gives the impression that the Egyptians were facing a great and strong military presence. However, some scholars believe that the battles described at Medinet Habu were not one coherent event, but were actually small skirmishes between the Sea Peoples and the Egyptians at different intervals that were conflated in Ramesses’ account into two grandiose battles. Barbara Cifola (1988: 275-306) concluded that, due to the vague manner in which the northern enemies were described, they could not possibly represent one force, and were probably never joined into a clearly defined confederation (see also O’conner 2000: 94).
The Medinet Habu inscriptions are also significant for their artistic depictions of the Sea Peoples. These provide valuable information about the appearance and accoutrements of the various groups, and can lend clues towards deciphering their ethnic backgrounds (Redford 1992: 251).
From the textual evidence on the temple walls, it appears that the Peleset and the Tjeker made up the majority of the Sea Peoples involved in the year 8 invasion. In the artistic depictions, both types are depicted wearing a fillet, from which protrudes a floppy plume and a protective piece down the nape of the neck. Their armament included long swords, spears and circular shields, and they are occasionally shown wearing body armor. Other groups, such as the Shekelesh and Teresh, are shown wearing cloth headdresses and a medallion upon their breasts. The weaponry that they carried consisted of two spears and a simple round shield. The Shardana soldiers are most obviously armored in the artistic depictions, due to the thick horned helmets that adorn their heads (Redford 1992: 252).
The land battle and sea battle scenes provide a wealth of information on the military styles of the Sea Peoples. The reliefs depicting the land battle show Egyptian troops, chariots and auxiliaries fighting the enemy, who also used chariots, very similar in design to Egyptian chariots. Although the chariots used by the Sea Peoples are very similar to those used by the Egyptians, both being pulled by two horses and using wheels with six spokes, the Sea Peoples had three soldiers per chariot, whereas the Egyptians only had one, or occasionally two.
The land battle scenes also give the observer some sense of the Sea Peoples’ military organization. According to the artistic representations, the Philistine warriors were each armed with a pair of long spears, and their infantry was divided into small groups consisting of four men each. Three of those men carried long, straight swords and spears, while the fourth man only carried a sword. The relief depicting the land battle is a massive jumble of figures and very chaotic in appearance, but this was probably a stylistic convention employed by the Egyptians to convey a sense of chaos. Other evidence suggests that the Sea Peoples had a high level of organization and military strategy (O’Conner 2000: 95).
A striking feature of the land battle scene is the imagery of ox-pulled carts carrying women and children in the midst of a battle. These carts seem to represent a people on the move (Sandars 1985: 120).
The other famous relief at Medinet Habu regarding the Sea Peoples is of the sea battle. This scene is also shown in a disorganized mass, but as was mentioned earlier, was meant to represent chaos, again contradicting the Egyptians’ descriptions of the military success and organization of the Sea Peoples. The sea battle scene is valuable for its depictions of the Sea Peoples’ ships and their armaments. The Egyptians and the Sea Peoples both used sails as their main means of naval locomotion. However, interestingly, the Sea Peoples’ ships appear to have no oars, which could indicate new navigation techniques (Dothan 1982: 7). Another interesting feature of the Sea Peoples’ ships is that all the prows are carved in the shape of bird heads, which has caused many scholars to speculate an Aegean origin for these groups. Wachsmann (2000) speculates that the sea battle relief shows the battle in progression, from beginning to end.
Medinet Habu still remains the most important source for understanding the Sea Peoples, their possible origins, and their impact on the Mediterranean world. To this day, no other source has been discovered that provides as detailed an account of these groups, and this mortuary temple still provides the only absolute date for the Sea Peoples.

Excerpt from Ramesses III’s speech about the war against the Sea Peoples, year 8 (Breasted 2001: 37-39: sections 64-66):

The countries — –, the [Northerners] in their isles were disturbed, taken away in the [fray] — at one time. Not one stood before their hands, from Kheta, Kode, Carchemish, Arvad, Alashia, they were wasted. {The}y {[set up]} a camp in one place in Amor. They desolated his people and his land like that which is not. They came with fire prepared before them, forward to Egypt. Their main support was Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Denyen, and Weshesh. (These) lands were united, and they laid their hands upon the land as far as the Circle of the Earth. Their hearts were confident, full of their plans.
Now, it happened through this god, the lord of gods, that I was prepared and armed to [trap] them like wild fowl. He furnished my strength and caused my plans to prosper. I went forth, directing these marvelous things. I equipped my frontier in Zahi, prepared before them. The chiefs, the captains of infantry, the nobles, I caused to equip the river-mouths [1], like a strong wall, with warships, galleys, and barges, [–]. They were manned [completely] from bow to stern with valiant warriors bearing their arms, soldiers of all the choicest of Egypt, being like lions roaring upon the mountain-tops. The charioteers were warriors [– –], and all good officers, ready of hand. Their horses were quivering in their every limb, ready to crush the countries under their feet. I was the valiant Montu, stationed before them, that they might behold the hand-to-hand fighting of my arms. I, king Ramses III, was made a far-striding hero, conscious of his might, valiant to lead his army in the day of battle.
Those who reached my boundary, their seed is not; their heart and their soul are finished forever and ever. As for those who had assembled before them on the sea, the full flame was in their front, before the river-mouths, and a wall of metal upon the shore surrounded them. They were dragged, overturned, and laid low upon the beach; slain and made heaps from stern to bow of their galleys, while all their things were cast upon the water. (Thus) I turned back the waters to remember Egypt; when they mention my name in their land, may it consume them, while I sit upon the throne of Harakhte, and the serpent-diadem is fixed upon my head, like Re. I permit not the countries to see the boundaries of Egypt to [–] [among] them. As for the Nine Bows, I have taken away their land and their boundaries; they are added to mine. Their chiefs and their people (come) to me with praise. I carried out the plans of the All-Lord, the august, divine father, lord of the gods.

Texts found with the year 8 relief scenes of the Sea Peoples war (Breasted 2001: 41-49: sections 70-82):

1. A scene depicting Ramesses overseeing the distribution of weapons to the soldiers:

Text behind the king: All the gods are the protection of his limbs, to give to him might against every country.

Text before the king: ——– king; he saith — — to the princes, every leader of the infantry and chariotry who are before his majesty: “Bring out the weapons ——–. Let the archers march to destroy the enemies, who know not Egypt, with might.”

Text over the officials: Utterance of the princes, companions, and leaders of the infantry and chariotry: “Thou art the king who shinest upon Egypt. When {thou} ristest, the Two Lands live. Great is thy might in the midst of the Nine Bows. Thy roaring is as far as the circuit of the sun. The shadow of thy sword is over thy army. They march, filled with thy might. Thy heart is stout, (for) thy excellent plans are established. Amon-Re appears, leading the way. He lays low for thee every land beneath thy feet; {thy} heart is glad — forever. [Thou art] the protection which comes forth without delay. The heart of the Temeh is {dis}turbed, the Peleset are hung up, [–] in their towns, by the might of thy father, Amon, who has decreed to thee ——–.”

Text over officers by the weapons: ——– {Give} the weapons to the infantry, the chariotry and the archers ——–.

Text over officers distributing weapons: Take ye the {weapon}s of {King} Ramses III.

Text over soldiers receiving weapons: The infantry and chariotry who are receiving {weapons}.

2. A scene depicting Ramesses setting out in a chariot for Zahi, accompanied by both Egyptian and Shardana infantry:

Text over the horses: Great first span of his majesty (named): “Amon-He-Giveth-the-Sword.”

Text behind the king and over the Shardana: His majesty marches out in victorious might, to destroy the rebellious countries. His majesty {marches out} for Zahi, like the form of Montu, to crush every country that has transgressed his boundary. His infantry are like bulls, ready for battle upon the field. {His} horses are like hawks in the midst of his fowl before him. The Nine Bows are under (his) power. Amon, his august father, is for him a shield, King — –, Lord of the Two Lands, Ramses III.

3. A scene depicting Ramesses charging the Sea Peoples with a drawn bow in his chariot with Egyptian and Shardana troops (the land battle relief):

Text over the battle: ——– {at} the sight of him, as when Set is enraged, overthrowing the enemy before the celestial barque, trampling the lands and countries prostrate, crushed [–] before his horses. His heat consumes {them} like fire, desolating their gardens — –.

Text over the kings horses: Great first span of his majesty (named): “Beloved-of-Amon.”

4. A scene depicting the naval battle between the Egyptians and the Sea Peoples, with the king in his chariot on the shore:

Text by the king: The Good God, Montu over Egypt, great in might, like Baal in the countries, mighty in strength, far-reaching in courage (lit., heart), strong-horned, terrible in his might, a — wall, covering Egypt, so that every one coming shall not see it, King Ramses III.

Text over the chariot: Lo, the northern countries, which are in their isles, are restless in their limbs; they infest the ways of the river-mouths. Their nostrils and their hearts cease breathing breath, when his majesty goes forth like a storm-wind against them, fighting upon the strand like a warrior. His puissance and the terror of him penetrate into their limbs. Capsized and perishing in their places, their hearts are taken, their souls fly away, and their weapons are cast out upon the sea. His arrows pierce whomsoever he will among them, and he who is hit falls into the water. His majesty is like an enraged lion, tearing him that confronts him with his hands (sic), fighting at close quarters on his right, valiant on his left, like Set; destroying the foe, like Amon-Re. He has laid low the lands, he has crushed every land beneath his feet, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Lord of the Two Lands, Usermare-Meriamon.

5. A scene depicting Ramesses, along with soldiers and court officials, overseeing the counting of Sea People captives and hands from slain enemies before a palace:

Text by the king: Utterance of his majesty to the king’s-children, the princes, the king’s butlers, and the charioteers: “Behold ye, the great might of my father, Amon-Re. The countries which came from their isles in the midst of the sea, they advanced to Egypt, their hearts relying upon their arms. The net was made ready for them, to ensnare them. Entering stealthily into the river-mouth, they fell into it. Caught in their place, they were dispatched, and their bodies stripped. I showed you my might which was in that which my majesty wrought while I was alone. My arrow struck (lit., seized), and none escaped my arms nor my hand. I flourished like a hawk among the fowl; my talons descended upon their heads. Amon-Re was upon my right and upon my left, his might and his power were in my limbs, a tumult for you; commanding for me that my counsels and my designs should come to pass. Amon-Re established the — of my enemies, giving to me every land in my grasp.”

Text over the officials: Utterance of the king’s-children, the princes, and the companions; they reply to the Good God: “Thou art Re, shining like him. Thy might crushes the Nine Bows, every land trembles at thy name, thy fear is before them every day. Egypt rejoices in the strong-armed, the son of Amon, who is upon the throne, King Ramses III, given life, like Re.”

Text over the palace: Migdol of Ramses, Ruler of Heliopolis.

Text over the king’s horses: Great first span of his majesty (named): “Strong-is-Amon.”

Text over the grooms: Live the Good God, achieving with his arms, making every country into something that exists not, strong-armed, mighty, skilful of hand, King Ramses III.

Text over the prisoners: Said the vanquished chieftains of Tjekker: “——– like Baal ——– give to us {the breath that thou givest] ——–.”

6. A scene in which the king leads captive Tjekker and Libyans before Amon, Mut, and Khonsu:

Text over Amon: Utterance of Amon-Re, lord of heaven, ruler of gods: “Come thou with joy, slay thou the Nine Bows, lay low every opponent. Thou hast cast down the hearts of the Asiatics, thou takest breath from their nostrils, — — — by my designs.”

Text before the king: Utterance of Ramses III before his father, Amon-Re, king of gods: “I went forth, that I might take captive the Nine Bows and slay all lands. Not a land stood fast before me, . . . . . . . . and my hands took captives in the van of every country, by the decrees which came forth from thy mouth, . . . . . . that I might overthrow my every opponent. The lands behold me with trembling, (for) I am like Montu, — — — him who relies upon thy designs, O protector, lord of might ——–.”

Text over the Tjekker: Said the fallen, the great ones of Tjekker, who were in the grasp of his majesty, while praising this Good God, Lord of the Two Lands, Usermare-Meriamon: “Great is thy strength, victorious king, great Sun of Egypt. Greater is thy might than a mountain of gritstone, and thy terror is like Set. Give to us breath, that we may breathe it, the life that is in thy grasp, forever.”

Text over the Libyans: Said the fallen of Libya, who were in the grasp of his majesty: “Breath, breath! O victorious king, Horus, great in kingship.”

7. A scene of Amon, with Mut, presenting a sword to Ramesses, who leads three lines of captives:

Text before Amon: Utterance of Amon-Re, lord of heaven: “Come thou in peace! Thou hast taken captive thine adversary, and slain the invader of thy border. My strength was with thee, overthrowing for thee the lands. Thou cuttest off the heads of the Asiatics. I have given to thee thy great might, I overthrow for thee every land, when they see thy majesty in strength like my son, Baal in his wrath.”

Text before the king: Utterance of king Ramses III to his father, Amon-Re, ruler of the gods: “Great is thy might, O lord of gods. The things which issue from thy mouth, they come to pass without fail. . . . . . Thy strength is behind as a shield, that I may slay the lands and countries that invade my border. Thou puttest great terror of me in the hearts of their chiefs; the fear and dread of me before them; that I may carry off their warriors, bound in my grasp, to lead them to thy ka, O my august father, — — — — –. Come, to [take] them, being: Peleset, Denyen, Shekelesh. Thy strength it was which was before me, overthrowing their seed, — thy might, O lord of gods. He who relies upon him whom thou hast entrusted with the kingship, and everyone who walks in thy way are in peace. Thou art the lord, strong-armed for him who leans his back upon thee, a Bull with two horns, ready, conscious of his strength. Thou art my august father, who createdst my beauty, that though mightest look upon me, and choose me to be lord of the Nine Bows. Let thy hand be with me, to slay him that invades me, and ward off every enemy that is in my limbs.”

Text over the captives: Utterance of the leaders of every country, who are in the grasp of his majesty: “Great is thy might, victorious king, great sun of Egypt. Greater is thy strength than a mountain of gritstone; thy might is like Baal. Give to us the breath that we breathe; the life which is in thy hands.”

Text over the middle line of captives: Utterance of the vanquished of Denyen: “Breath! Breath! O good ruler, great in might {like} Montu, residing in Thebes.”

Text over the lower line of captives: Utterance of the vanquished Peleset: “Give to us the breath for our nostrils, O king, son of Amon.”

1. Here Breasted (2001: 38) gives the translation “harbor-mouths,” since he takes the view that the wars with the Sea Peoples took place in Syria rather than in the Egyptian Delta. He notes, however, that the Egyptian phrase r’-kh’wt is used in the year 5 text to refer to the “river-mouths” (38, note h). Throughout this adaptation, “river-mouths” will be used where Breasted uses “harbor-mouths.”

Ra brings to Teta “the power to journey over the Great Green Sea” The Manes {Teta} “goes round about the Lake and on the flood of the Great Green Sea”. Again: “Thou sailest over the Lake of Kha, in the north of heaven, like a star passing oer the Great Green Sea… as far as the place where is the star Seh.”


2 Responses to “Sea People”

  1. 1 shebtiw July 10, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    if you are interested in Akkiyawa and the Sea People, i would recommend looking into the 2 new MASSIVE cities they have found in Romania at Urzica Mare [2010] and Cornesti [north of Timisoara in 2005]. Mum has been the word but Goethe U quitely published their prelims on Cornesti.

    In 1400bc, the city at Cornesti [known tentively as Iarcuri to them or “Ak-Ink II” to the more learned] was larger than Rome at its peak. Its walls were 100meters thick and enclosed 1800hectares.

    Urzica Mare is star shaped, has massive walls and has an attached port unlike Cornesti where 9km separates it from its port.

    Cornesti was destroyed about 1250bc by “fire”

  2. 2 John September 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Excelent article, thank you.
    Libya and ancient Egypt. From: Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Revised Edition.

    This was the land bordering Egypt on the northwest, mentioned in papyri as far back as the Early Dynastic Period (2920–2575 BCE) and providing the Nile Valley with two dynasties in the later eras. The Libyans, called the Tjehenu (or Tjehemu), were depicted on temple walls and portrayed as having the same characteristics as Egyptians. They were termed the Hatiu-a, “the Princes,” perhaps because of their splendid attire. Bearded, light-skinned, and having red or fair hair and blue eyes, the Libyans were also identified as the Libu and Meshwesh, two major groups.

    The Libyan areas that bordered the Delta were attacked by the early Egyptians in the Predynastic Period (before 3000 BCE) as the southerners started moving north to unite the Two Kingdoms of the Nile Valley. Djer (r. ca. 2900 BCE) recorded his campaign to rid the Delta of the Libyans. Snefru (r. 2575–2551 BCE) used the same policy in dealing with them. The Palermo Stone recorded his invasion of their territory. Sahuré (r. 2458–2446 BCE) depicted an Egyptian goddess recording herds of cattle, sheep, and goats that he captured during his campaigns in the Fifth Dynasty in Libya. Members of the Libyan royal family were also brought to Egypt by Sahuré to serve as hostages.

    During the Middle Kingdom (2040–1640 BCE) such military campaigns against Libya were part of the Egyptians’ ongoing policies. The Libyans were used as units of the pharaoh’s army, either pressed into service or hired as mercenaries. Senwosret I (1991–1926 BCE) still conducted assaults on Libya itself. When the Middle Kingdom collapsed, however, the Libyans became the aggressors. The Hyksos, invaders who ruled in Avaris in the eastern Delta, could not halt the Libyan incursions along the western border. The so-called Wall of the Prince, the forts erected both in the east and the west during the Middle Kingdom, failed to protect the Delta.

    ‘Ahmose (r. 1550–1525 BCE) united Egypt and started the New Kingdom, routing the Hyksos and repelling the Libyans. His successor, Amenhotep I (r. 1525–1504 BCE), had several military confrontations with the Libyans in the Western Desert. In the Nineteenth Dynasty, Seti I (r. 1306–1290 BCE) met a combined force of Libu and Meshwesh in the Delta and banished them. His son and heir, Ramesses II (r. 1290–1224 BCE), met them again and vanquished them. His son, Merenptah (r. 1224–1214 BCE), faced the Meshwesh, Ekwesh, and Sea Peoples and was victorious. Ramesses III (r. 1194–1163 BCE) was equally successful in his military campaigns against full-scale invasions of the Meshwesh and Sea Peoples. The result of this campaign was the capture of the Libyan clans, which were brought into Egypt. Some disappeared into the general population and some served in the Egyptian military or as an internal police force, similar to the Nubian Medjay. Bubastis (Tell Basta) and Tanis became the center of the Libyans from that time on, and the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Dynasties would emerge from their ranks in the Libyan Period, 945–712 BCE. Rulers such as Shoshenq I (r. 945–924 BCE) brought a renaissance into Egypt in the arts and in military might. Ruling as contemporaries from Tanis and Bubastis, the Libyans could not maintain their domain as the Nubian kings moved on northern Egypt.

    “Ironically the New-Kingdom thrived from adopting Hyksos technology such as innovative weapons and agricultural techniques and also from trading-networks with the Near-East and Eastern-Mediterranean.” It looks like aryans and they brought with ’em asiatic mercenaries from behind Bharat.

    Some linx

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