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Who were the Sea People who attacked Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age Collapse?
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Archaeology from the Balkans indicates a crisis prior to the Bronze Age Collapse

The formation and expansion of the Urnfield culture in Central Europe caused waves of migrants to travel down into the Mediterranean. This argument is supported by archaeology in the region,
Ancient History

The Argument

Pressure on the Balkans by Central European people disrupted life there in the 13th century. This disruption was caused by a break between the older Tumulus culture and the newer Urnfield culture. The Urnfield culture spread across central Europe and into the Balkans. The fallout from its formation may have caused waves of migrants who headed south. One such migration into the north of Italy, around 1200 BCE, is already well-known.[1] The Bronze Age Collapse may have occurred in a similar way to the collapse of Rome, with waves of northern migrants pushing people down into the Mediterranean on masse, causing chaos. There is evidence of material culture from the Balkans (ancient Illyria) moving south in this period into Greece, and Greek finds moving north into the Balkans, suggesting a considerable movement of people. So-called "barbarian ware" appears throughout Greece at the end of the Mycenaean palatial period.[2] Depictions of Urnfield ships mirror those in the Egyptian Hieroglyphics depicting the Sea People. The ships have prominent bird heads on the stern and prow, an unusual feature which is unlikely to be a coincidence.[3] The classical Greeks believed their own history started with "the Doric Invasions" a group of invaders who came from the North. Archaeology suggests that disturbance in Central Europe which affected the Balkans and may have caused a movement of people downwards into the Mediterranean. These people from Illyria and Central Europe may have comprised the Sea People or may have pushed others into piracy.

Counter arguments

The sources related to the Sea People mostly speak of invaders coming by sea from island lands. Overland invaders are not really mentioned. The existence of foreign objects may be due to trade and does not prove widespread invasions. The classic bird-headed boats on the reliefs in Egypt are not unique to the Urnfield culture. Boats using bird-headed figurines feature prominently in several cultures across the world. The bird-headed ship relief at Hama in Syria is a strong candidate for the origin of the ship-builders.[4] Most scholars now reject the idea of a Doric invasion occurring in this period. Many believe it happened after the Bronze Age Collapse or did not happen at all and was a myth.[5] The archaeology related to the Urnfield culture in this period is inconclusive and does not provide enough evidence for invaders from the Balkans.



[P1] Urnfield culture developed in this period in Central and Southern Europe just before the Bronze Age Collapse. [P2] Archaeology shows the movement of material culture in this period. [P3] Egyptian reliefs at Medinet Habu appear to show Urnfield ships [C] Societal changes in Central Europe caused migrations from the Balkans into the Mediterranean.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] The movement of material goods is not strong enough evidence to prove an invasion.


This page was last edited on Monday, 30 Nov 2020 at 13:21 UTC