Who were the Sea Peoples?

Jan 2015
2,902
MD, USA
There is the gap from the Thebes Cuirass to later decorated cuirasses, but continental european examples are similar, as are cuirasses from later Iron Age civs. The Marmesse cuirasses are similar, and thoracic arch decoration would be likely:
The Marmesse cuirass | Musée archéologie nationale
Gap? Not in my book. Dendra to Thebes to bell cuirass, obviously. But the thoracic arch doesn't show up until the bell cuirass, and of course it's often more a parabola than a chevron.

We need to stop calling all those European cuirasses "Bronze Age". They are clearly just bell cuirasses with more embossing, and date to the Iron Age. Every feature of shape, closures, etc., is the same as the Greek examples.

The plate pauldrons only occur in Aegean, from Dendra Panopy to Thebes cuirass...
Could be. Don't depictions of Egyptian scale shirts have shoulder guards? Not the exact same thing as a plate pauldron, of course, but same function.

...and could have continued into the Geometric.
No. For that claim you'll need SOME kind of evidence, and there isn't any.

Some of them wear tiara helmets; those have been found in Crete, not the Nile delta.
The helmet styles have always been intriguing! But I've seen horned and tiara helmets in enough places now that I'm not sure how much significance we can attach to them.

You gotta take Odysseus at his word! Why include that humiliating episode in the Odyssey that perfectly matches a Greek raid? Too perfect.
I know that's a favorite bit of yours! And you know I'm hardly one to dismiss Homer. But why does that raid have to be connected to the Medinet Habu campaign? They could be entirely separate episodes.

Matthew
 
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Jan 2015
2,902
MD, USA
...And, the article itself even says this body armor was also made of leather.

"The efficiency of the bronze cuirass to protect from swords lashes especially in comparison to linen or leather corselet, has often been questionable. "
Unfortunately, as Dan has already pointed out, this idea is flat-out wrong. Back around 1960 John Coles made a "shield" from 0.3mm *copper* and was able to chop it with a bronze sword. That's ONE-THIRD to ONE-QUARTER the thickness of any actual armor, and the wrong metal! Copper is nowhere near as strong as bronze. Ever since then, "all bronze armor is ceremonial" has been dogma, and it's ludicrous. Every test done with even remotely realistic materials has utterly debunked it.

Bronze armor is more protective for a given weight than any other material until the development of steel. Period.

...And it isn't obviously bronze, is all I am saying.
That much, I agree with!

Matthew
 
Feb 2013
4,299
Coastal Florida
Without reading the report it's hard to say but the ethnic origin doesn't solve the issue.
I never claimed that it did. And really, I don't think consideration of ethnicity itself matters or is even relevant. Basically, all I said is that it significantly narrowed the scope of the debate. A central question of this debate concerns whether a significant European migration occurred. We saw that earlier in this very thread. For instance, from the first page:

They never invaded anywhere and there is no evidence of a mass migration. The cultures that existed in their respective regions before the collapse were exactly the same as the cultures in those regions afterwards. Nobody has a clue who they were or where they came from but the Sea Peoples were raiders, not invaders.
It now appears rather difficult for objective thinkers to continue to claim there is "no evidence of a mass migration" as the results presented by the paper seemingly demonstrate significant empirical evidence of migration from southern Europe on a substantial scale, at least as far as this question concerns the Philistines. Does this mean all of the Philistines' supposed "Sea People" brethren also came from Europe? No. Does this mean the Philistines sailed directly from some point in Europe to the Levant? No. Does this mean all Philistines arrived at the exact same time? No. Does this explain everything or answer all of our questions about the "Sea People"? Of course not. It merely appears to foreclose on the idea that no significant migration occurred. There are still plenty of other questions left to decide. I thought I made this clear when I said I thought our answers will ultimately be found somewhere in the middle of the debate.

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.
Sure, but plenty of people don't believe these results mean what others think they do, or even in the accuracy of this sort of analysis. Even I question the reliability of such analysis, particularly at the resolution at which these claims were made.

The "Sea Peoples" invasion was a political enterprise comprised of mix ethnicity. Does the DNA evidence contest this?
Did I claim that it did?

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?
For one thing, it's not just pottery. However, like I said earlier, the referenced paper appears to empirically demonstrate that the people who made '"Philistine" Monochrome & Bichrome pottery' primarily descended from a population which originated in southern Europe. It's difficult to see how this can be seen any other way. The argument for this all being a production of regionally local people who moved to this area and simply imported foreign culture appears to hinge on the idea that they "could have done it" so there's no reason to believe a far-flung migration occurred. Well, it increasingly looks to me like the "say it ain't so" position has become logically untenable as far as the Philistines are concerned.

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.
People will argue over the minutiae until the end of time. I'm skeptical we will ever definitively answer all questions concerning the microscopic details of a 50-year timespan from this period of ancient history.
 
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Oct 2013
6,252
Planet Nine, Oregon
Gap? Not in my book. Dendra to Thebes to bell cuirass, obviously. But the thoracic arch doesn't show up until the bell cuirass, and of course it's often more a parabola than a chevron.
There needs to be some allowance for the sculptors' materials; depicting hundreds of bosses in a pattern is not practical. There is the piece from Enkomi, Cyprus, Mycenaen colony at the time, and it even might have a mitra plate.. Also: BIG round shield.




Could be. Don't depictions of Egyptian scale shirts have shoulder guards? Not the exact same thing as a plate pauldron, of course, but same function.
Yes, but they look very different; they are half-sleeves.


The helmet styles have always been intriguing! But I've seen horned and tiara helmets in enough places now that I'm not sure how much significance we can attach to them.
True, but the tiara helmets have only been found in a Greek context, iirc.


I know that's a favorite bit of yours! And you know I'm hardly one to dismiss Homer. But why does that raid have to be connected to the Medinet Habu campaign? They could be entirely separate episodes.
They could, but the story exactly matches the Sea People, including being defeated, captured and settled, and shows the state if raiding and piracy at the time, regardless.

I wonder if Cilicia was the a big staging area and the place where many of their ships were constructed.
Folks don't want to imagine that Greek warriors might have had their phalli handed to them by the Egyptians..:cool:
 
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Feb 2011
797
Kitchener. Ont.
...It now appears rather difficult for objective thinkers to continue to claim there is "no evidence of a mass migration" as the results presented by the paper seemingly demonstrate significant empirical evidence of migration from southern Europe on a substantial scale, at least as far as this question concerns the Philistines. Does this mean all of the Philistines' supposed "Sea People" brethren also came from Europe? No. Does this mean the Philistines sailed directly from some point in Europe to the Levant? No. ...
But that last point is the cornerstone of the invasion/migration hypothesis.
If the DNA suggests these 'Philistines' came from Europe within say a generation then you have evidence of possible migration, if it only suggests they came from Europe over a timespan measured in hundreds of years then the invasion/migration hypothesis falters.
It is widely known Aegeans spread themselves across the east Aegean all through the 2nd millennium, this was not an invasion nor a migration.

Does this mean all Philistines arrived at the exact same time? No. Does this explain everything or answer all of our questions about the "Sea People"? Of course not. It merely appears to foreclose on the idea that no significant migration occurred. There are still plenty of other questions left to decide. I thought I made this clear when I said I thought our answers will ultimately be found somewhere in the middle of the debate.
Indeed, which makes the initial claim (...It now appears rather difficult for objective thinkers to continue to claim there is "no evidence of a mass migration") somewhat meaningless. There is still no clear evidence of a mass migration.

For one thing, it's not just pottery. However, like I said earlier, the referenced paper appears to empirically demonstrate that the people who made '"Philistine" Monochrome & Bichrome pottery' primarily descended from a population which originated in southern Europe.
Perhaps "descended" was a poor choice of term because 20th century caucasian Amercians "descended" largely from Europe, but there was no invasion nor mass migration.
So what really, does this DNA actually tell us?


It's difficult to see how this can be seen any other way. The argument for this all being a production of regionally local people who moved to this area and simply imported foreign culture appears to hinge on the idea that they "could have done it" so there's no reason to believe a far-flung migration occurred. Well, it increasingly looks to me like the "say it ain't so" position has become logically untenable as far as the Philistines are concerned.
I don't recall anyone suggesting the Philistines were ethnic pure bread Semites. Though if they have lived in some part of the Levant for several centuries (around Alalakh & northern Syria?), but originating from the west in the mid 2nd millennium, this sounds to be consistent with the DNA analysis (not having read it), so how does this support the migration/invasion hypothesis?
 
Feb 2011
797
Kitchener. Ont.
.....
They could, but the story exactly matches the Sea People, including being defeated, captured and settled, and shows the state if raiding and piracy at the time, regardless.
Being defeated, captured & settled fits a good number of different enemies of Egypt. It was the common practice of Egypt to settle their captives.

I wonder if Cilicia was the a big staging area and the place where many of their ships were constructed.
Cilicia was politically Hittite at the end of the Late Bronze, it was an area of mixed ethnicity, and three city states (in my opinion) are identified among the Sea Peoples (Adana - Denyen, Tarsus - Tursha, Issus - Weshesh). This forms the best starting point for all future questions of 'Who were the Sea Peoples'.
 
Feb 2013
4,299
Coastal Florida
I'm taking this a little out of order.

But that last point is the cornerstone of the invasion/migration hypothesis.
I find that rather ridiculous, as well as an arbitrary and unreasonable condition placed upon the concept of migration. If the starting point is A and the endpoint is C, there's no good reason to insist a migrating population couldn't stop over at point B in between. In Philistine terms, I see something like a stopover on Cyprus as a plausible scenario. Indeed, Cyprus could potentially have served as a sort of gateway to the Near East, considering its pre-existing commercial links across the region and, in particular, its apparent cultural ties to the Aegean region.

Perhaps "descended" was a poor choice of term because 20th century caucasian Amercians "descended" largely from Europe, but there was no invasion nor mass migration.
In my view, that's complete nonsense. The USA has a population numbering in the hundreds of millions and nearly every single member of this population descended from the many millions of people who came here from far-off places. In actuality, much of that immigration came in concentrated waves of mass migration from certain foreign countries and regions during particular periods of our history. As for whether it amounted to an invasion, I'm sure there were many Native Americans who thought so. There've been quite a few nativists who weren't too happy with all these foreigners entering our country either.

It is widely known Aegeans spread themselves across the east Aegean all through the 2nd millennium, this was not an invasion nor a migration.
You are correct that we have evidence indicating migration was common throughout this region over the 2nd millennium BC. We clearly see evidence of it in the archaeology as well as written sources from the region like the corpus of Hittite treaties and diplomatic correspondence. However, generally speaking, those phenomena don't appear to be anywhere near the same scale as the movement of the Philistines into the coastal Levant. Previously, we have evidence of things like merchant and artisan communities among a myriad of other smaller and more isolated groups from all over which settled amongst a sea of the existing population surrounding them. When something like a community of Aegean artisans or merchants came to Egypt or a Levantine polity, it certainly doesn't appear they arrived in sufficient numbers to impose their own material culture and practices over that of the locals. This doesn't appear to have happened with immigrants of apparent Indo-Aryan descent either. While it's obvious in many cases that cross-pollination occurred and there may have been significant changes in terms of politics or warfare (e.g. the apparent situation of Mitanni, Egypt under the Hyksos), the existing cultural paradigm generally persisted. Hence, I simply don't see this prior evidence of migration as analogous to that of the Philistine example. If the Philistines were primarily composed of these prior assimilated groups I would expect the existing culture to have remained predominant rather than see sudden and broad cultural change.

If the DNA suggests these 'Philistines' came from Europe within say a generation then you have evidence of possible migration, if it only suggests they came from Europe over a timespan measured in hundreds of years then the invasion/migration hypothesis falters.
Actually, their evidence says quite the opposite, that this migration was not something that occurred "over a timespan measured in hundreds of years". In fact, they found discontinuity between the Bronze and early Iron Age populations of Ashkelon. The early Iron Age population strongly featured European ancestry while the Bronze Age population did not. That's how they concluded this was the result of an influx of new people during the Bronze-Iron transition period. The signal they detected was strong but relatively short-lived...and completely absorbed into the regional population within 200 years. Interestingly, the Philistines were powerful enough to entrench their political and cultural paradigm so deeply over the area that it appears to have actually survived far longer than their genetic profile. Obviously, this necessarily implies a significant migration event occurred and then came to a halt as the Philistines subjugated and mixed with the existing local population rather than being sustained by a long period of additional migration. The paper can't quantify an exact number of years over which this migration occurred but, realistically, their findings do necessarily limit its duration to a relatively brief period. And certainly, "hundreds of years" seems far outside the realm of possibility.

Indeed, which makes the initial claim (...It now appears rather difficult for objective thinkers to continue to claim there is "no evidence of a mass migration") somewhat meaningless. There is still no clear evidence of a mass migration.
The evidence appears as clear as a bell to me. I would go so far as to assert that, when combined with the archaeological and very small epigraphic corpus, it all gels together and looks rather conclusive. Again, I would note that those who think this was purely a local phenomenon believe it, not because there's any concrete evidence to support that interpretation, but only because they think it's merely possible and prefer not to consider whether a far-flung migration occurred. I realize many probably find this an unwelcome development which challenges cherished sacred cows but here we have substantial empirical evidence of a far-flung migration which clearly refutes the local event hypothesis when it comes to the Philistines.

So what really, does this DNA actually tell us?
There's nothing earth-shattering about it. On a fundamental level, it merely verifies empirically a conclusion many have independently drawn from the archaeology alone. What it doesn't tell us is much about the broader context of the Sea People or the associated conflicts engendered by this agitation.

I don't recall anyone suggesting the Philistines were ethnic pure bread Semites.
Why would they?

Though if they have lived in some part of the Levant for several centuries (around Alalakh & northern Syria?), but originating from the west in the mid 2nd millennium, this sounds to be consistent with the DNA analysis (not having read it), so how does this support the migration/invasion hypothesis?
As noted above, this is not consistent with the researchers' findings, nor does it seem consistent with earlier records concerning migration in the region that I'm aware of. In particular, the Hittite corpus covers the topic of migration in this area. While there are certainly extant records concerning a people around this area who could also be a Philistine group or related group, they were contemporaries of the Philistines occupying the southern Levant, not a Philistine power base which existed earlier in the Bronze Age.
 
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