Monday, June 13, 2016

Eve of Destruction: 1200 BCE

By the middle of the Second Millennium, BCE, Bronze Age civilizations had developed a "globalized" economy, encompassing the Eastern Mediterranean and other nearby areas. Tin was brought from as far away as Afghanistan to be incorporated into copper to produce the eponymous metal of the age. A vigorous trade in food, textiles, metal and artifacts was conducted by land and sea, and alliances sealed by exchange of royal princesses intermeshed the royal families of Hittites, Egyptians, Cypriots, Babylonians, Trojans and others. Diplomacy and trade relied on Akkadian as a lingua franca.

Shortly after 1200 BCE, nearly all of these city kingdoms were destroyed, often by fire and military force. Exactly who or what was responsible doesn't seem to be well understood, but then I haven't gotten quite that far in the book: 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, by Eric H. Cline.


The warriors entered the world scene and moved rapidly, leaving death and destruction in their wake. Modern scholars refer to them collectively as the “Sea Peoples,” but the Egyptians who recorded their attack on Egypt never used that term, instead identifying them as separate groups working together: the Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Shardana, Danuna, and Weshesh— foreign-sounding names for foreign-looking people. 1

We know little about them, beyond what the Egyptian records tell us. We are not certain where the Sea Peoples originated: perhaps in Sicily, Sardinia, and Italy, according to one scenario, perhaps in the Aegean or western Anatolia, or possibly even Cyprus or the Eastern Mediterranean. 2 No ancient site has ever been identified as their origin or departure point.

Cline, Eric H.. 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Turning Points in Ancient History) (p. 1). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.