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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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The other causes of the Bronze Age Collapse created widespread piracy

The Bronze Age collapse can be attributed to climate change, famine, earthquakes, economic difficulties, internal military struggles, and banditry. The Sea people were likely raiders. They were victims of the collapse rather than its principle cause.
Ancient History

The Argument

Famine, earthquakes, economic disasters, and war all led to an unstable world in the Late Bronze Age. Attributing the collapse to “Sea People” based on several small inscriptions is a mistake. The raiders in Egypt were probably taking advantage of the chaos caused by other factors.[1] Inland empires, such as Elam, Assyria, and Kassite Babylonia were all affected by the collapse, not just maritime empires. The Bronze Age world of the Mediterranean was highly interconnected both socially and economically, and events in one place had serious repercussions in others. Attributing all the trouble in this period to one group of unidentifiable raiders is an oversimplification with little supporting evidence. [2] Widespread famine caused by climate change in this period is one possible contributor to the collapse. It is likely that famine caused mass migrations and destabilized states. Devastating earthquakes in this period appear to have destroyed some cities. The disruption of trade, particularly of tin is a possible economic factor. Egyptian sources also record internal rebellions at this time between laborers and the Imperial regime. This series of events created a perfect storm that caused a dark age. [3]The Sea People are just one small factor, probably pushed by these difficult conditions into piracy in a similar manner to the Vikings in another later dark age. They are unlikely to be an actual organized group. The Sea People inscriptions prove that many people in this period resorted to banditry to survive. Claims that one group sacked many civilizations are built on scant evidence, the existence of seaborne raiders proves that the wider economic and societal problems caused conflict and led to banditry. There is a lot of evidence for widespread and complex problems in this period that contributed to the Bronze Age Collapse.

Counter arguments

Theories about mass famine have never been confirmed. The evidence used to prove there was an Anatolian famine is based on texts which report grain shipments sent from Egypt to Anatolia. This may indicate a system of trade rather than an actual famine.[4] Earthquakes are a constant of Mediterranean history, and it has not been proved that there was an especially devastating earthquake in this period.[5] None of the present explanations for the Bronze Age Collapse has actual concrete evidence and is just theory. On the other hand, there is written evidence of invaders in Syria, Egypt, and the Hittite Empire. There is also written evidence of widespread Greek piracy in Homer. An invasion from a powerful group of seaborne raiders is the best explanation for the Bronze Age Collapse. Claims of famine, earthquakes, and internal rebellion have not yet been proved. There is strong evidence for invading forces. An alliance of Sea People remains the best explanation for the Bronze Age Collapse.



[P1] The causes of the Bronze Age Collapse are many and complex. [P2] The Sea People were likely affected by widespread societal changes. [C] The collapse caused banditry. The Sea People did not cause the collapse.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] No one theory about the Bronze Age collapse has ever been proven.


This page was last edited on Monday, 30 Nov 2020 at 13:27 UTC

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