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Who were the Sea People who attacked Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age Collapse? Show more Show less
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During the 12th Century BC sea-faring invaders contributed to what is known as the Late Bronze Age Collapse. Greece, Egypt, the Levant, and the Hittites were all impacted. Known in the Egyptian sources as a confederation of ethnic groups, the identity and origins of the Sea People is contested.

The Sea People were bandits and raiders. Show more Show less

Far from causing the Bronze Age Collapse, the Sea People were some of its victims. Loose confederations of pirates and raiders were forced into a life of crime due to the chaos of the Late Bronze Age. They represent no one nation or ethnic group, and no one cataclysmic event. A complex series of events in this period saw a sharp rise in opportunistic banditry.
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Changes in Late Bronze Age warfare led to extensive raiding

For most of the Bronze Age, warfare was fought by armies of charioteers funded by kings. New tactics made use of heavily armored infantrymen (the precursors of the Greek phalanx). This change gave a tactical advantage to small warbands and raiders, undermining the power of Bronze Age palatial kings.
Ancient History
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The Argument

The Bronze Age period was characterized by civilizations centered around palaces which acted as storehouses. Kings and queens who controlled these palaces, used their considerable wealth to raise armies of charioteers to defend themselves. Innovations in military tactics saw the rise of shield-bearing infantrymen who used swords and wore body armor. The old techniques used in warfare relied on light infantry who threw projectiles such as stones; effective against charioteers but hugely ineffective against heavily armored infantrymen.[1] Changes in military tactics shifted the balance of power in the Mediterranean. During this troubled period, groups of raiders and pirates made use of these new technologies, which made them far more than the nuisance they had been before. Cheaper than outfitting an army with chariots and horses, armor and swords were an inexpensive alternative that could be used by small groups of warbands. The reliefs in Egypt which depict the Sea People show them using swords and shields, unlike their opponents.[2] Palatial kings did not catch up in time with technological changes to defend themselves from piracy and banditry.[3] The Bronze Age collapse was caused partly by the introduction of new military techniques that were effective against old-fashioned chariot armies used across the Aegean. The Sea People were pirates who took part in this military revolution.

Counter arguments

The military evolution explanation of the Bronze Age Collapse does not explain the motives or origins of the invaders. If widespread piracy was a factor, there must have been some cause.[4] If the Sea People really had learned to use superior technology to fight the established elites of the Bronze Age, it begs the question of why a disorganized band of pirates and raiders hit upon the idea before complex civilizations did. The Sardana or Sherden, are mentioned many times in Egyptian texts before the Sea People invasions, and appear to have been used as Egyptian mercenaries. It is unlikely the Egyptians were surprised by their use of swords and shields.[5] The military invention explanation does not sufficiently explain the origins of the Sea People.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Advances in warfare were used by the Sea People, as depicted in the reliefs in Egypt. [P2] The new technology was highly effective against established armies across the Mediterranean who used chariots. [C] Bandits and raiders, previously only a nuisance, devastated the Mediterranean with their new military tactics.

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_End_of_the_Bronze_Age.html?id=bFpK6aXEWN8C
  2. https://www.academia.edu/10445433/Ancient_Military_Technology_and_Materiel_Continuity_and_Change_in_Ancient_Close_Combat_Warfare
  3. https://www.academia.edu/7046876/ROBERT_DREWS_The_end_of_the_bronze_age
  4. https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/1177_B_C.html?id=39qIngEACAAJ&redir_esc=y
  5. https://img.4plebs.org/boards/tg/image/1498/88/1498880873171.pdf
This page was last edited on Monday, 30 Nov 2020 at 13:29 UTC

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