Who were the Sea Peoples?

Feb 2011
846
Kitchener. Ont.
What's strange is why you continue to misrepresent my argument by raising straw men as you're essentially objecting to arguments I haven't made. You're referencing things I haven't even mentioned.
It's not my intention to misrepresent anyone, though we all know there is a prevalent paradigm for this subject so if you don't want your views misrepresented because they differ from the accepted paradigm, then perhaps you should step up and state your particular nuanced take on the Sea Peoples phenomenon.

...... As for the pottery, the most immediate links are certainly evident.
Killebrew & Zevulun have demonstrated the Lion-Headed cups & Hearths show their closest parallels to the same artifacts found in southern Anatolia and northern Syria, not the west Aegean.

Mazow has shown the 'Bathtubs' & Loomweights are found locally at several sites on Cyprus, and at Megiddo, therefore no reason to look to the west Aegean.

The 'Ashdoda' type figurines, as stated by Singer are very much in the style of the Anatolian mother goddess Kubaba. There is nothing in the west Aegean with which to draw a parallel.

Likewise, the incised scapulae found in the Pentapolis finds it's origins in Mesopotamia, and spread to Syria, Anatolia & Cyprus. There is nothing like it in the west Aegean.

Much of the tableware long since touted by Dothan as reflective of Aegean wares in both style & form were already identified as existing in the Late Bronze Levant by Ruth Amiran before Dothan published her work.

There's simply no justification for a west Aegean origin for these foreigners.


..... For all we know, Cyprus or other locations closer to their origination point(s) could have had large transient expatriate communities from many places to the north and west to support commercial trade and that's how they became associated with one another. Or they could have been more isolated and transient for some time.
Which tends to scuttle the idea of a migration because these ex-pat Aegeans could have occupied various cities in the east Mediterranean for a couple of hundred years before they joined up on some political venture against Egypt.
So, there you go.....

But regardless of how it occurred, it appears they managed to maintain a European genetic profile prior to their arrival in the southern Levant.
I don't think that is something that can be done intentionally. If their ancestors had links to Europe then the link does not fade with time.


Something else I'd say here. You know, I recently encountered a phenomenon that I really hadn't thought about before. Actually, it was in the sphere of Roman archaeology. But it was the idea that a large transient population could temporarily occupy a place and leave virtually no sign they had been there. That archaeologically, the best you could do would be to dig trenches looking for post holes and sift every square inch of dirt in hopes of a few small finds because no permanent or substantial structures were built. But, in order to do that you'd first have to know exactly where the site was located because, obviously, you'd have to sift all of the dirt. If a population didn't stay in a place long enough to construct large stone buildings (or didn't care to because they didn't intend to remain permanently even if they stayed a while), I'm not sure how we would even be able to document their movement because the labor required to do so would be prohibitive, particularly when it's a needle in a haystack if you don't know where to look. There's no institution that's going to commit billions of dollars to sifting every square inch of dirt along every possible route in hopes of discovering small finds or post holes which we probably have little hope of finding anyway.
Totally agree, for all the nations that have invaded Egypt across the Sinai, there is precious little to no tangible evidence of their passing.
This is the same dilemma I face with those islands in the delta. As yet no archaeological evidence exists the argument is purely from a textual perspective.
Yet, the west Aegean origin for these foreign invaders doesn't even have that.
There is no archaeological nor textual evidence in support of that claim. The idea comes entirely from an interpretation.


Prior to the period in question, we have absolutely no evidence of large settled colonies of Aegean or European descent who stayed to themselves or dominated the area around them with their cultural paradigm. And certainly, we have no evidence of state-level polities like this. In contrast, the Philistines appear to have established a state-level polity immediately after arrival. Considering they immediately began mixing with the locals here, I'm extremely skeptical they would have refrained from doing so if they'd been settled for a long time in some other Near Eastern location. I mean, really, they set up shop across a pretty good size contiguous area here. If they previously had a permanent state-level location to call their own, surely we'd have been able to find it by now, as well as a great deal of continuity from the previous location to the new. There's nothing anywhere near like that in the archaeology from the region that I'm aware of, certainly not anything that existed substantially prior to the arrival of the Philistines in the southern Levant.
But surely that argument applies to where ever we think they came from. Whether Greece, Europe or northern Syria. Shouldn't we have already found it by now? The simple answer must be "no".
But then there is the occupation of Tel Ta'yinat just outside Alalakh where some think the Philistines had strong links.
A location of that sort would still make them Asiatic, and close enough to the Aegean influenced Cilicia, yet also politically Hittite. As a site it seems to fit all the parameters.

None of this is even relevant. In regard to what I've said, it makes no difference whether the Philistines arrived before or after the Egyptian withdrawal.
Your Philistines are never identified as "Sea Peoples" (n-p3-iamu), and they have towns & groves which the Egyptians destroyed. Therefore, they lived right on the doorstep of Egypt in year 5, three years before the so-called Sea Peoples invasion.

As I've stated before, the evidence shows only that the Philistines were of European descent and settled over a relatively brief period. I've made no claims except ones which directly concern that. It shows only that there was some element of a far-flung migration. I certainly don't believe all groups purported to be members of the Sea People came from Europe but it certainly looks like the Philistines did.
But 'migration' is a subjective term.
How many caucasian Amercians have DNA traces back to Europe?, which migration does this indicate?
 

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,418
Coastal Florida
It's not my intention to misrepresent anyone, though we all know there is a prevalent paradigm for this subject so if you don't want your views misrepresented because they differ from the accepted paradigm, then perhaps you should step up and state your particular nuanced take on the Sea Peoples phenomenon.
I've made my position abundantly clear.

Killebrew & Zevulun have demonstrated the Lion-Headed cups & Hearths show their closest parallels to the same artifacts found in southern Anatolia and northern Syria, not the west Aegean.

Mazow has shown the 'Bathtubs' & Loomweights are found locally at several sites on Cyprus, and at Megiddo, therefore no reason to look to the west Aegean.

The 'Ashdoda' type figurines, as stated by Singer are very much in the style of the Anatolian mother goddess Kubaba. There is nothing in the west Aegean with which to draw a parallel.

Likewise, the incised scapulae found in the Pentapolis finds it's origins in Mesopotamia, and spread to Syria, Anatolia & Cyprus. There is nothing like it in the west Aegean.

Much of the tableware long since touted by Dothan as reflective of Aegean wares in both style & form were already identified as existing in the Late Bronze Levant by Ruth Amiran before Dothan published her work.

There's simply no justification for a west Aegean origin for these foreigners.
I've adressed your penchant for cherry-picking and/or misinterpreting sources before. Although, to be frank, I'm not even sure you've actually read them yourself and you may have just gotten these little "talking points" from somewhere on the internet. For instance, I believe your mention of Lion-Headed cups comes from a work that Killebrew contributed to and edited but she didn't write the particular article in question. Rather, it was authored by Linda Meiberg. I would note that Meiberg disagreed with Zevulun's conclusion (northern Levant/Syria stylistic origin) and, while she personally believed they were rooted in an Anatolian tradition, she also accepted the possibility that they could have been part of the Aegean-derived repertoire as well. Actually, she eventually asserted this style of cup diffused from Anatolia to both Mycenaean Greece and Syria during the Middle Bronze Age. Even though she acceded to the possibility of an Aegean origin for the Philistines, she preferred the Syrian/Levantine derivation...but merely because those cups, like the Philistine examples, had only one hole instead of two as was common in Mycenaean Greece. Although, to me, that's a pointless distinction because, clearly, cross-pollination was a two-way street as the Philistines incorporated local stylistic elements into their own work. So, who can "prove" they didn't previously know them in a 2-hole style but chose to accommodate their local customers by producing them in a one-hole style? As far as I'm concerned, this sort of debate is pointless, particularly when the people claiming to advocate one side can't even be bothered to give it their full-throated endorsement. So, it's clear that point of minutiae isn't nearly as clear-cut as you've made it out to be. Likewise, you've handled Mazow's claims concerning bathtubs and loomweights in a similar ham-handed fashion. I could go down the list.

Which tends to scuttle the idea of a migration because these ex-pat Aegeans could have occupied various cities in the east Mediterranean for a couple of hundred years before they joined up on some political venture against Egypt.
So, there you go.....
Except, even on Cyprus we have no evidence of such a community. Indeed, the substantial increase of Aegean-style material culture on Cyprus occurred near-contemporaneously with the arrival of the Philistines in the Levant. It may have predated the Philistine arrival for a bit, but not a very long period of time.

I don't think that is something that can be done intentionally. If their ancestors had links to Europe then the link does not fade with time.
Actually, it did fade with time...that's exactly what the paper says.

Totally agree, for all the nations that have invaded Egypt across the Sinai, there is precious little to no tangible evidence of their passing.
This is the same dilemma I face with those islands in the delta. As yet no archaeological evidence exists the argument is purely from a textual perspective.
Yet, the west Aegean origin for these foreign invaders doesn't even have that.
There is no archaeological nor textual evidence in support of that claim. The idea comes entirely from an interpretation.
Aside from this new evidence, we have plenty of cultural material which demonstrates a link of some sort. I think it's generally accepted that this material is imported from the Aegean directly and/or a product of local adoption of Aegean styles. Aside from minor disagreements over the odd point of minutiae (e.g. Lion-Headed cups), the only general disagreement is whether its arrival and dissemination was exclusively a product of commercial trade or whether at least some of it was brought by a migrating population or populations. If you're claiming that absolutely none of this material is Aegean in character, you might be the first person I've actually understood to categorically say that.

But surely that argument applies to where ever we think they came from. Whether Greece, Europe or northern Syria. Shouldn't we have already found it by now? The simple answer must be "no".
Not necessarily, particularly if their origination was diffuse. However, if they were permanently settled together over a similarly large area somewhere else in the Near East for an extended period of "hundreds of years", we would have records of a population that size as either the Egyptians or the Hittites would have reduced them to vassalage as was their custom for every surrounding polity of any substantial size. To my knowledge, there is not even a suggestion of potential identification for a matching population, much less a geographic location, prior to the time period of concern here.

But then there is the occupation of Tel Ta'yinat just outside Alalakh where some think the Philistines had strong links.
A location of that sort would still make them Asiatic, and close enough to the Aegean influenced Cilicia, yet also politically Hittite. As a site it seems to fit all the parameters.
The rise of Tel Ta'yinat was contemporaneous with the rise of the Philistines in the Levant, not prior. Although, the tel didn't become very powerful until later. It had been abandoned for centuries during the previous Bronze Age. Although, I've read a small agrarian community may have settled on it shortly before Alalakh was destroyed. But it's status as a substantial power center is of later vintage, in any case. Prior to the Iron Age, nearby Alalakh (Tel Atchana) was the seat of power in this area and the Aegean-style corpus of material from the area is not very significant prior to its destruction. I would also note the overall paradigm involving the possible identification of Philistines here is not analogous to that of the southern Levant. While the name of the Neo-Hittite or Syro-Hittite state which later evolved here could perhaps be derived from the term Philistine, these people did not culturally dominate the area as it was a Hittite-remnant style polity that arose here, not a Philistine example.

Your Philistines are never identified as "Sea Peoples" (n-p3-iamu), and they have towns & groves which the Egyptians destroyed. Therefore, they lived right on the doorstep of Egypt in year 5, three years before the so-called Sea Peoples invasion.
Again, irrelevant.

But 'migration' is a subjective term.
How many caucasian Amercians have DNA traces back to Europe?, which migration does this indicate?
Probably more than one... Not sure if you're aware but it's not uncommon for people of different ethnicities to procreate in the U.S.
 
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Aug 2018
255
Italy
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.





Yes, but they look very different; they are half-sleeves.


True, but the tiara helmets have only been found in a Greek context, iirc.



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:
I don't think Enkomi was a Mycenaean colony at the time, the local material culture prevailed over the Mycenaean imitations and imports from what I understand, and the Cyprominoan script they used was different from linear B although like Linear B it also derived from Linear A, but their langauge wasn't Greek, so calling Enkomi a Mycenaean colony is a bit of a stretch.
 
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Feb 2011
846
Kitchener. Ont.
They were Greeks. See:

Assaf Yasur-Landau, The Philistines and Aegean migration at the end of the late Bronze Age
Eric Cline, 1177 B.C. : the year civilization collapsed
From The New York Times:
Ancient Philistines Came From Away
DNA Begins to Unlock Secrets of the Ancient Philistines
As things have developed roughly over the past 25 yrs or so, it seems there are at least two camps.

The first camp maintains the Egyptian texts & reliefs showing Ramesses III fighting with foreigners in his year 8 reflects an invasion from the west. These foreigners (ostensibly Greek?) occupied the southern Levant and created Monochrome & Bichrome pottery. This has been the predominant hypothesis for over a century.

However, more recently a second view has evolved which maintains these foreigners who attacked Egypt in year 8 were of more local origin, whether they descended from Aegeans in the 2nd millennium or not is irrelevent. The war ascribed to year 8 was a local affair, but they were repulsed by Ramesses III who then held the southern Levant for the next two generations (roughly), before Egypt finally withdrew, before the end of the 20th dynasty.
Following the withdrawal of Egypt from the Levant, foreign (Aegean?) peoples from the north moved in and inhabited the southern Levant. It was these peoples who created the monochrome & Bichrome (Philistine) wares.

What is being debated here is whether the recent DNA evidence supports the first view, or the second.

The difference is the significance of this hiatus in habitation, estimated to be about two generations or 30-50 yrs.
 
Dec 2009
970
UK
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?
"so if there were any sizeable movements, how did they get from Greece to the Levant?" ............. by boat?? obviously.

If they were from Crete that just shuts down your "large movement" theory anyway.

Fact is your picking holes yet what are your alternatives, for some reason you refuse to be convinced but with the DNA evidence your confusion is just a side show.

The Sea Peoples were SE European, who at this time means they were Greek or Western Anatolian ......... that's it.

As for how or what they did when they got to the Levant / Egypt, again your over-complicating this issue but the evidence is in plane site.

The Egyptians stated the Peleset were pushed to settle on the Levant apparently by the Egyptians, the Hebrews said the Philistines were from Crete or at least alluded to that.
The Egyptians used captured Sea Peoples in their army so we actually have a decent idea and now a final idea of who they were and what they were doing.
Then we have the depictions by the Egyptians of Aegean style dress etc.

The Sea Peoples were raiders who came from coastal settlements and islands in and around the Aegean, they used Greek style armour and clothing because that's what their main lander cousins (like the Mycenae) were using.
There may of been a Sea People settlement near Egypt made up of the captured mercenaries used by the Egyptians at one point.

That's pretty much it.

If you don't believe all the evidence then what is your theory because I'm struggling to work out what it is you think is a credible alternative? ......... considering we now know who they were via DNA.
 

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
7,064
Planet Nine, Oregon
It seems that bichrome Mycenaean LHIIIb ware was found in the Pentapolis, and after the destruction of Mycenae, it appears that it was produced in different areas showing regional variation.. This would make sense if the fall of the mainland into chaos caused peoples to move into the Levant area and their styles became integrated into the local styles. Incidentally this could also be the period of the Trojan War, with Odysseus mentioning that he had gone to Egypt before joining the attack on Troy. Excavated Philistine burials have been described as in the 'Aegean tradition".
Is this informatin obsolete? Because it would seem to tie into recent tests:
The Archaeology of Ancient Israel
 
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Feb 2012
568
They were Greeks. See:

Assaf Yasur-Landau, The Philistines and Aegean migration at the end of the late Bronze Age
Eric Cline, 1177 B.C. : the year civilization collapsed
From The New York Times:
Ancient Philistines Came From Away
DNA Begins to Unlock Secrets of the Ancient Philistines
imho they were a group of ex-cucuteni/trypillians from russia. they settled on cyprus then landed at tyr a hundred years later.
state history museum in moscow holds all the proof in one display case... and i guess the bm and louvre have a little too.
this dna stuff just verifies what the most important artifacts say but not aegean... black sea... sea of azov.

alamy
 

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
7,064
Planet Nine, Oregon
imho they were a group of ex-cucuteni/trypillians from russia. they settled on cyprus then landed at tyr a hundred years later.
state history museum in moscow holds all the proof in one display case... and i guess the bm and louvre have a little too.
this dna stuff just verifies what the most important artifacts say but not aegean... black sea... sea of azov.

alamy
I think they are too early, and don't have the technological capabilities for the weapons and armour seen in depictions. Their wares don't match pottery found with Philistines etc., which are Mycenaean or created locally for Mycenaean pirates and others.