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Sea Peoples

12 October 2017

At https://phys.org/print426749820.html … and at the link sent in by Gary, www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4963386/3-200-year-old-slab-tell… … and also in the current issue of Popular Archaeology, we have a story about a 29m long slab of rock with a Luwian hieroglyphic inscription that is said to describe some of the events taking place at the end of the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean …

  … Swiss and Dutch archaeologists announced the new translation. The frieze was actually found as long ago as 1875 in a Turkish village. The archaeologist at the time wrote it all down, a laborious but vital thing to do as it turned out as the slab of rock was subsequently broken up and used in the foundations of a new mosque. Swiss geoarchaeologist Eberhard Zangger, of the Luwian Studies Foundation, who has some unorthodox views about the Luwians, is at the heart of the current fanfare – via his foundation. To get a flavour of what his revision of the end of the LB age go to https://luwianstudies.org … which revolves around making the Luwians an important culture and people in order to plug the Dark Age between the Mycenaeans and Iron Age Greece. Revisionists at the SIS might disagree with the need to plug the dark age – but looking at what he says should be part of the process of learning and deciding which pathway to adopt. Zangger has been writing articles and books for a long time – such as 'The Flood from Heaven' his version of the Atlantis legend – which was very popular at the time of publication and can be purchased on Amazon for just 49 pence in sterling (and cents in the US). Bargain. The point to bear in mind here is that Zangger has used the frieze as support for his version of events, one dominated by the Luwians. In a catastrophist scenario (not necessary a revisionist scenario) the Luwians were as much victims as the Hittites and Mycenaeans, their homeland struck by natural disasters that involved a cosmic body and ground shaking earthquakes  from the Aegean to the Levant (followed by a cooling climate that led to drought and famine in some regions and incessant rainfall in other regions). It is all part of a Holocene pattern of periodic upheaval. When the climate returned to normal the Iron Age proper began – and the Greek Classical period began with the Ionians living in western Anatolia having replaced the Luwians (or intermingling with them but dominating them culturally). Mopsus, another term for Muksus of Zangger, was established in Cilicia. This suggests a migration of Luwians from western to SE Anatolia – made good by the fact that Luwians were already living there (among others) in the Hittite era.

   According to Zangger and his team the inscription was commissioned by the Great King of Mira, a Late Bronze kingdom in western Anatolia. The frieze, he says, dates to 1190BC, which is just prior to the LB collapse (if it coincides with the 1159-41BC low growth tree ring event) or somewhat later if orthodox chronology is taken at face value and the end of the LB was set in motion around 1200BC (but see Mike Baillie who favoured lowering 1200 o 1150BC in an SIS article). In Hittite texts Mopsos/Muksus was active after the initial LB catastrophe – but prior to the final event that witnessed the collapse of the Hittite empire. In Egyptian terms this would be somewhere between the end of the reign of Ramses II and the beginning of the reign of Ramses III (in the orthodox layout of dynasties). In Assyro Babylonian terms this would be after the collapse and assassination of Tukulti Ninurta I (coinciding with the initial setbacks associated with the Hittite king numbered Tudhalyas IV). Revisionists would argue about all this of course but keeping strictly to the orthodox chronology, as Zangger does, it positions the inscription in time and event which implies Mopsos/Muksus was active around the time of Suppiluliumas III (the final king of the Hittite empire period). It makes sense too as it means that Luwians and Mycenaeans, Lycians and other peoples of Anatolia (modern Turkey) were all initially set in motion by the original catastrophic earthquakes and the Trojan war may belong somewhat earlier in the LB period (and there are a few clues to this although one might also view the story of Troy as a conglomeration of events in the Mycenaean era that included the migrations and upheaval at the end of the LB era as well as its earlier struggle to gain a foothold in western Anatolia (against the kings of the Trojans and their allies which appear to include Hittites or Hittite controlled kingdoms in central Anatolia). The Trojan story is a poem or saga like account and is said to mix up Bronze Age and Iron Age elements and history and therefore we can imagine it mixed up end of LB and earlier LB events as well. It may very well also include mythological input going back much further into the past – all grist to the mill to the story tellers and reciters. In other sources Muksus is closely associated with the Phrygians, a newly arrived group of people with connections to the Balkans. This is also part of the events at the end of the LB era and when the dust is settled in the Iron Age proper much of central Anatolia is classified as Phrygian (not sure on what basis this is true) or Ionia (western Anatolia) and the Hittites appear to migrated south into Syria (which is how they come to turn up in the Bible and in Assyrian war annals). We may assume the heirs of Mopsos/Muksus were not too friendly to the Neo-Hittites but whatever, both regions eventually were subsequently overrun by the armies of the Assyrians and later, the army of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. North Syria became the Land of Hatti of the Assyro-Babylonian annals. The fact that people living in the Hittite empire migrated far and wide into the Levant may explain the tribe of Dan (the northern home of that clan). The Dan that lived on the coast in the SW may have a different origin, an association with the Mycenaeans or their Luwian neighbours. Dan has clear phonetic parallels with Danuna (modern Adana near Tarsus) – which was subsequently colonised by the like of Mopsos/Muksus and his allies, located in SE Anatolia, above the Syrian plain. King David's Uriah the Hittite was presumably another refugee that turned up further south than other Hittite subjects in North Syria. The Philistines of course are the perfect connection with the Sea Peoples (as refugees from the Aegean and Anatolia earthquake storm) and have clear parallels (such as the name of Goliath etc). The Phoenicians, it has been argued, that is the Iron Age inhabitants of the coastal region of the Levant, are said to be a combination of Sea People and the local Semitic speaking peoples, albeit a minority but bringing with them some cultural baggage, eventually integrated into the local culture by the process of hybridisation and one set of genes, the locals, dominating the introduced genes of the refugee elements. This is interesting as Zangger claims Muksus attacked Ashkelon (which later was dominated by the Philistines, or at least in the time of David, suggesting this was prior to the dilution of the incoming genes). Philistia remained mostly in the Egyptian sphere – which goes back to the events in the reign of Ramses III when the refugee hoard was halted at the borders of the Egyptian empire (which reached and embraced large chunks of southern Syria) and raiders by sea  were defeated in the delta but allowed to settle in what became Philistia, and were employed as mercenaries defending Egyptian territory in the Levant (mainly against desert marauders who were also unsettled by the deteriorating climate). This too is reflected in the story of King David. As all good imperialists the Egyptians plied the elite of the newcomers with the goodies of a rich civilisation and they became firmly allied to the Egyptian cause – and therefore were treated as baddies in the Iron Age Monarchy narrative (or mostly so). None of what Zangger has revealed from the frieze appears to contradict any of this – but I'm sure a lot of people will disagree.


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