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1177BC – the year civilisation collapsed

20 May 2014

This is the catastrophe Velikovsky chose to identify as a Persian invasion of Egypt many hundreds of years later. Gaston Maspero, in the 1860s, came up with the idea of a hoard of Sea Peoples invading the Aegean, Anatolia, and the Levant, and marching on Egypt they were beaten back first by Merenptah and then by Ramses III. Ever since then the Sea Peoples have been the favoured agency by the majority of historians, being responsible for a large number of site destructions across the region outlined above. Velikovsky's book, Peoples of the Sea, although a best seller, more or less brought his Ages in Chaos to an untimely ending, and the grand theory never got back on track – and most of the intervening period was never published (although it can be read online at an archive established after he died).

Eric H Cline, in '1177BC – the year civilisation collapsed' has gone back to the roots of the site destructions – but leaves the end open (to be finalised by somebody at an indeterminate date in the future). Claude Schaeffer, in the 1930s, suggested earthquake was to blame for the raft of site destructions (especially at his own excavation site, Ugarit). Marguerite Yon, the most recent archaeologist to mess around at Ugarit, disagrees – claiming it was attacked and destroyed by a human army (on the basis of arrowheads found in the ruins, and the odd hoard of buried valuables). Arthur Evans, at Knossos on Crete, and Carl Blegen, at Troy, also invoked earthquakes – an idea recently revived by Amos Nur (2009). Cline is quite happy to agree that earthquakes played a role – but he says that earthquakes are not the sole answer. He is also happy to visualise the 'sea peoples' as basically a hoard of refugees – but doesn't appear to join up the dots. He mentions various other ideas such as drought, famine, invasion, climate change etc., all ideas aired over the last 50 years or so, by different people. The big question lies unanswered – what caused an earthquake storm to strike a swathe of territory , in what looks like the trajectory of an overhead cosmic object. Merenptah actually tells us – 'the star Anath has fallen …. '

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