Sea Peoples

Sea Peoples

The sea peoples appear to have been a “disparate mix of Luwians, Greeks and Canaanites, among others.”243 The earliest extant mention of the sea peoples occurs in an obelisk from Byblos that may date to around 2000 BCE, some 2,500 years after that city’s settlement by the ancestors of the Phoenicians. 

Regarding their arrival along the southern coast of Canaan during the eighth year of the reign of Ramesses III, Redford remarks, “The invasion of year 8 was sudden and unique; and all references to ‘Philistines’ in the Bible must postdate it.”245 Depending on which chronology one uses, the eighth year of Ramesses III would fall around 1178 BCE or some other time during the 12th century, decades or centuries after the Israelites purportedly were encountering “Philistines” in the Promised Land. This invasion and destruction by the sea peoples at the end of the 12th century led to the Iron Age.

Summarizing the sea peoples’ era, Redford states:

The contemporary, as well as the classical, evidence permits us to draw the following sketchy picture. At the end of the thirteenth century B.C. a desperate effort to reunite the disintegrating Mycenaean community directed a loose coalition of former member states against Troy, the former leader of the erstwhile Ionian confederation against the Hittites. In the years immediately following the reduction of Troy some of the members of the Mycenaean expedition, under the leadership of enclaves in Caria, banded together in a loose federation and moved east along the southern coast of Asia Minor, along with their families, to settle in the plains of Cilicia and North Syria. Branch movements spread far and wide. Sardis was occupied by Greeks around 1200 B.C., and ships of the movement made for Cyprus…

The end was near. In truth, no one could stand before these raiders. Hattusas was destroyed, and the Hittite empire swept away in one stroke. Tarsus was laid waste, as was Enkomi on Cyprus. Alalakh and Ugarit were razed to the ground, never to be rebuilt. The Late Bronze Age of the Levant vanished in an instant: archaeology gives a graphic dimension of the terror conveyed by the written record.

From their camp in Amurru—that is, in the Eleutheros Valley—the confederacy trundled south, women and children in oxcarts, while the ships kept pace offshore.

 Sardis or Sardes is an ancient site in Turkey, southeast of Troy and northeast of Ephesus, here claimed by Redford to have been occupied by Greeks by around 1200 BCE. Hence, we have Greek culture in the region before the Israelites emerge as an ethnicity, an important fact when considering the possible influences on the Bible and Jewish doctrines.