Who were the Sea Peoples?

Dec 2009
969
UK
Initially I thought they were raiders like many other people, but more recent evidence and better translations suggest that they were rebels. They were a bunch of minorities who had lived in the region for centuries and periodically attempted to shake off the rule of the Pharoah. The recorded "Sea People" attack wasn't the first nor the last of these rebellions. It has been fixated upon by some historians in an attempt to rationalise their "collapse" theory.

There was no Collapse. There was no Dark Age. It only looks like one because of the dodgy chronology we've been saddled with.
This is way too much of an over simplification of the situation because you talk about it like it was one event when it was multiple.

The Egyptians recorded 9 tribes of Sea Peoples, not 1, whether this was due to a "collapse" etc is not my concern or what I'm trying to prove, its you who seem fixated on that theory.

The 2 which have been afforded the most attention seem to be the Sherden and Peleset.

The Sherden after their defeat by the Egyptians had some prisoners incorporated into the Egyptian Army by Ramses II, who of which were used in the battle of Kadesh against the Hittites, this is recorded on the Aswan Stele and the Medinet Habu.

Now its possible that after one of these attempted raids were defeated the Egyptians did allow a small encampment or village of Sea Peoples to settle in exchange for mercenary service but again this would only address one occasion and was not long term.

The facts that have been unearthed clearly show that all Sea Peoples (I mean the name says it all) originally came as foreign naval raiders and were SE European due to DNA, then add the weaponry, clothing, armour, pottery the answer becomes relatively clear.

There is no reason in my mind to think this description isn't perfectly valid ..........

 
  • Like
Reactions: Todd Feinman
Dec 2009
969
UK
I don't think the resolution of the recoverable evidence is sufficient to temporally quantify everything when it comes to the minutiae. However, it certainly supports the view that a substantial migration from across the sea occurred, at least in the case of the Philistines...also that they mixed with the local population and were eventually absorbed by it a few centuries later. This broadly sustains the more traditional view and strongly refutes newer interpretations that there was no large migration of European people and this was merely an agitation of the existing regional population who simply imported "culture" (e.g. pottery) from across the sea. Perhaps the total reality was somewhere in the middle but this clearly casts doubt on claims that this was primarily a local phenomena without substantial outside involvement.
I agree with everything your stating but I just wanted to raise the "absorbed" part of your comment.

Yes there was obviously mixing with the local population but if you mean the Philistines disappeared over time due to inter breeding and absorption into the local majority culture then that is where I would disagree.

The reason for the disappearance of Philistine culture and dominant inhabitants was because they were routed by the Neo Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II who conquered the region in the 6th Century BC.

I've often pointed to this event as well as further proof of the Philistines foreign origin, the ruthless put down and extraction of the Philistines by the Babylonians show a more merciless approach then when the Babylonians attacked other local rivals.
There seemed to be little if any diplomatic discourse as the Babylonians usually afforded local Kingdoms, it was more an opportunity to get rid of this foreign element once and for all.

Usually the discourse would be "We're coming to conquer you, either give up peacefully or you'll be punished" where as the Philistines were not afforded any such luxury, they were annexed from the pages of history without ceremony.

I think this different approach of aggression is what's expected when the peoples who are attacked are an invading foreign culture.
 
Feb 2011
823
Kitchener. Ont.
Wickerman said: "
You'll notice the Vikings only raided towns & villages, they did not take on a city-state with a national army."

The Great Heathen Army and raids/sieges of Paris put the lie to this; and might be considered as models for the 'Sea Peoples" actions: small raid, small raid. let's go for it. Just a thought.
"Great Heathen Army"?
Ramesses took more prisoners than the Vikings had in their entire army. You are talking about one siege on one city, if that's what you call a comparison, then thats your choice, but not a good one.
 
Feb 2011
823
Kitchener. Ont.
A new paper has been published in the journal Science Advances which presents DNA evidence from the recently discovered Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon. It's unfortunate that its merits can't be discussed here as, in general, it clearly seems to offer strong empirical support for one side of this debate. Although the result set's resolution is limited due to degradation of the sample, the evidence gathered was broadly consistent and raises a number of other interesting questions as well.
Without reading the report it's hard to say but the ethnic origin doesn't solve the issue. It has been recognised for more than half a century that the inhabitants of the Levantine coast were foreigners. Skeleton's were unearthed at Azor back in the 50's or 60's. Analysis was conducted on five of them focussing on their skull type, it was determined, "two were brachycephalic, or short-headed. Armenoid or Dinaric classes, probably of Balkan or Asia Minor origin. One was a "short-headed" Alpine type of central Europe. One jaw pointed to another short-headed type of an indeterminate subgroup. And the last was a skull that contained mixed Mediterranean and short-headed characteristics".
Peoples of the Sea, Dothan & Dothan, 1992, p 113.

The "Sea Peoples" invasion was a political enterprise comprised of mix ethnicity. Does the DNA evidence contest this?
 
Feb 2011
823
Kitchener. Ont.
I don't think the resolution of the recoverable evidence is sufficient to temporally quantify everything when it comes to the minutiae. However, it certainly supports the view that a substantial migration from across the sea occurred, at least in the case of the Philistines...also that they mixed with the local population and were eventually absorbed by it a few centuries later. This broadly sustains the more traditional view and strongly refutes newer interpretations that there was no large migration of European people and this was merely an agitation of the existing regional population who simply imported "culture" (e.g. pottery) from across the sea. Perhaps the total reality was somewhere in the middle but this clearly casts doubt on claims that this was primarily a local phenomena without substantial outside involvement.
I've looked intently for this "substantial evidence for migration", if any such event truly occurred there must be archaeological traces.
No-one, to my knowledge, has been able to publish anything of any value, or at least nothing that cannot be explained by other circumstances.
All through the Dodecanese islands through to Rhodes, there 's no archaeological trace of a mass movement of peoples at the end of the Late Bronze Age from outside their immediate domain.
Likewise, across southern Anatolia, no trace of foreign intrusions, so if there were any sizeable movements, how did they get from Greece to the Levant?
And if, as some have staked their reputation on, the "Philistine" Monochrome & Bichrome pottery is the fingerprint of the arrival of these foreigners in the Levant. Where did they come from, this pottery does not exist in the west Aegean, not on mainland Greece or Crete. So, from where?
 
Apr 2012
261
Iowa, USA
"Great Heathen Army"?
Ramesses took more prisoners than the Vikings had in their entire army. You are talking about one siege on one city, if that's what you call a comparison, then thats your choice, but not a good one.
Was Paris not part of a kingdom that had an army? Wessex, Merica, and Anglia are kingdoms not villages. As for Ramses' claims this is the Ramses who won the great victory at Kadesh right?

Why do you keep referring to DNA? Wrong forum.
 
Feb 2011
823
Kitchener. Ont.
I would also mention something I've noted before. I've long doubted the "no migration" extremity of the debate because the archaeology shows a clear break of the material culture across the coastal region occupied by the Philistines. Generally speaking, either a new population arrived in substantial numbers at around the same time and took control of the area or the existing population suddenly abandoned all they knew and began doing something completely different for some reason. The idea the existing population somehow found sufficient reason to do that has always struck me as rather odd. It's one thing to start importing a few pots and change over time but the sudden and broad cultural change seems extreme, particularly over a large area at around the same time.
I think you are right, there was an influx of peoples from outside the region. Likely from the north.
Though I agree with Finkelstein, this influx is more correctly dated after the 20th dynasty, roughly 1115 BCE or after. More in line with the dawn of the emergence of Phoenician Bichrome on the northern coast.
There is no Monochrome pottery securely dated to the 20th Dynasty, and yes there is a hiatus of habitation for roughly 2 generations or 50+ years on the south coastal Levant.

Below the Levantine destruction levels we find Cypriot, Mycenaean, Egyptian & Canaanite pottery.
Directly within & for a short time above we only find Egyptian & Canaanite pottery.
After a short time span estimated at 50+ years we find the first traces of Monochrome pottery, with Bichrome following.
So it seems the appearance of the first Monochrome wares came about 2 generations after the time of the destruction. So how does that support a new arrival of foreigners bringing their new pottery technology with them?
The clear answer is, it doesn't. And this fact concerned Trude Dothan (a firm supporter of the Sea Peoples invasion) in no small way.
 
Feb 2011
823
Kitchener. Ont.
Thomas Hulit created similar armour as an interpretation, but there is no evidence for it at all in the record. They look much closer to Aegean and central European decorated examples of bronze cuirasses; it's possible the artists had one example of a panoply for a model.
Leather doesn't preserve too well after 3000 years, especially in the Delta, so we might not expect to find any. However, bronze armor should, yet we have not found any examples, like we see at Medinet Habu, in bronze either. So we can only speculate at this time.
 
Feb 2011
823
Kitchener. Ont.
Was Paris not part of a kingdom that had an army? Wessex, Merica, and Anglia are kingdoms not villages.
Yes, but the Sea Peoples are traditionally supposed to have destroyed nations, and taken on the might of the
Egyptian empire. Not a kingdom, beside those English kingdoms you refer to do not compare in size or wealth with what those Sea Peoples have been credited with destroying.

As for Ramses' claims this is the Ramses who won the great victory at Kadesh right?
No, that was Ramesses II, a century before the Ramesses (III) we are talking about.

Why do you keep referring to DNA? Wrong forum.
You must have missed post 186.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dvch

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
6,591
Planet Nine, Oregon
Leather doesn't preserve too well after 3000 years, especially in the Delta, so we might not expect to find any. However, bronze armor should, yet we have not found any examples, like we see at Medinet Habu, in bronze either. So we can only speculate at this time.
We do have examples; the period in question would fall between the Thebes Cuirass (with pauldrons) and early Archaic armour: scroll down here:
The Greek Age of Bronze - Armour
Decorated cuirasses were common some probably looked similar to the dipictions, with patterns of repousse bosses and decorative embellishments imitating the thoracic arch.on the chest, so fits right in.