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Thursday, April 28, 2016

007 - Late Bronze Age Collapse

In this episode, we briefly discuss the Trojan War myth; the historical evidence for Mycenaean conflict in the eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia (by looking at the Egyptian and Hittite records); the archaeological evidence for layer VI and VII on the citadel of Hisarlik, i.e. ancient Troy (Wilion/Ilion); the Bronze Age collapse in both Greece and the Near East and its possible causes/explanations; the mysterious group of people known as the "Sea Peoples"; and the so-called "Dorian Invasion" southwards into Greece

ca. 1450 BC - Egyptian records mention a land belonging to the Danaya (Danaians?), during the reign of pharoah Thutmose III
ca. 1430 BC - An anti-Hittite uprising in Assuwa (northwestern Anatolia), supported by the Ahhiyawans (Achaeans?), was put down by the Hittite king, Tudhaliya; mentioned as taking part were Wilusa and Taruisa (the city of Troy and its surrounding lands)
ca. 1400 BC - An Ahhiyawan warlord, named Attarsiya (Atreus?), attacked Hittite vassals in western Anatolia, including Madduwata (the prince of Arzawa), and the island of Alashiya (Cyprus), before being defeated by the Hittite king, Tudhaliya or Arnuwanda
ca. 1375 BC - The land belonging to the Danaya was geographically defined in an inscription on the Colossi of Memnon from the reign of Amenhotep III, in which a number of cities were mentioned and identified with certainty (including Mycenae and Thebes)
ca. 1360-1345 BC - reign of Hittite king, Tudhaliya II (son of Arnuwanda)
ca. 1345-1325 BC - reign of Hittite king, Suppiluliuma (youngest son of Tudhaliya II); led an overthrow and death of his younger brother, Tudhaliya III, upon their father's death
ca. 1325-1320 BC - reign of Hittite king, Arnuwanda II (eldest son of Suppiluliuma)
ca. 1320-1295 BC - reign of Hittite king, Mursili II (youngest son of Suppiluliuma)
ca. 1315 BC - Another anti-Hittite uprising, led by Arzawa and with the support of the Ahhiyawans, forced the Hittites to take military action in western Anatolia; at the same time,  the Ahhiyawans seized lands in the eastern Aegean Sea
ca. 1300 BC - Troy VI is destroyed by an earthquake
ca. 1295 BC - Wilusa (Troy) in the region of Taruisa (the Troad) is attacked by a Hittite vassal king, named Piyama-Radu (Priam?), and so either the Hittite king, Mursili II or Muwatalli II, marched an army to northwestern Anatolia to put down the rebellion
ca. 1295-1272 BC - reign of Hittite king, Muwatalli II (eldest son of Mursili II)
1292-1290 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Rameses (founder of 19th Dynasty)
1290-1279 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Seti (son of Rameses)
1282 BC - traditional date of the foundation of Homeric Troy's walls
ca. 1280 BC - Alaksandsus (Alexandros/Paris?), the king of Wilusa (Troy) signs a treaty with the Hittite king, Muwatalli II, pledging military support in any future campaigns
1279-1213 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Rameses II (son of Seti)
1274 BC - The Wilusans (Trojans) fought alongside Muwatalli II and the Hittites against Rameses II and the Egyptians in the Battle of Kadesh
1272-1267 BC - reign of Hittite king, Mursili III (son of Muwatalli II)
1267-1237 BC - reign of Hittite king, Hattusili III (youngest son of Mursili II)
ca. 1250 BC - Another anti-Hittite movement broke out (again by Piyama-Radu) but this time was supported by the king of Ahhiyawa, resulting in Wilusa being ravaged (Trojan War?); as a result, the Hittite king, Hattusili III, initiated correspondence with the unnamed king of Ahhiyawa in the so-called Tawagalawa (Etewoklewes/Eteocles?) Letter
ca. 1250-1210 BC - The Milawata Letter was sent from the Hittite king, either Hattusili III or Tudhaliya IV, to an unknown vassal king in western Anatolia at Milawata (Millawanda/Miletus) demanding that he turn over a fugitive from Wilusa, named Walmu, to a Hittite envoy so that the Hittites can reinstall him as king at Wilusa, seeming to imply that Ahhiyawan raids may have led to Walmu being overthrown (Trojan War?)
ca. 1250-1190 BC - Troy VIIa was destroyed by fire
ca. 1250 BC - various Greek cities repelled invaders from the north, but heavy damage was done, leading to an increase in defensive fortifications
1237-1209 BC - reign of Hittite king, Tudhaliya IV (son of Hattusili III)
1237 BC - the power of the Hittites began to wane under Tudhaliya IV, after they were defeated by the Assyrian king, Tikulti-Ninurta, in the Battle of Nihriya
1213-1203 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Merneptah (son of Ramesses II)
ca. 1210 BC - Suppiluliuma II, the son of the Hittite king, Tudhaliya IV, had to fight off an invasion fleet coming from the direction of Cyprus using Levantine ships, including a naval battle against Alashiya off the coast of Cyprus
1209-1207 BC - reign of Hittite king, Arnuwanda III (son of Tudhaliya IV)
1207-1178 BC - reign of last Hittite king, Suppiluliuma II (younger son of Tudhaliya IV)
1207 BC - the Egyptian pharaoh, Merneptah, pushes out from the Nile Delta a mysterious group from the north, the so-called "Sea Peoples", as recorded on the "Merneptah Stele"
1205 BC - the Hittite capital of Hattusa was sacked and destroyed, probably by the proto-Phrygians (an Indo-European tribe from Thrace)
1203-1197 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Seti II (son of Merneptah)
ca. 1200 BC - Pylos was destroyed by fire (many Linear B tablets were thus baked and preserved); site was abandoned and never resettled
1197-1191 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Siptah (son of either Merneptah or Seti II)
1191-1189 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Twosret (a daughter of Merneptah); her reign ended in civil war and the dissolution of the 19th Dynasty
ca. 1190-1180 BC - The fortresses of Mycenae and Tiryns were felled by an earthquake, both were able to recover but were severely weakened
ca. 1190 BC - Various cities in the Levant were sacked by the Sea Peoples, notably Ugarit; Byblos and Sidon survive and would form the backbone of the Iron Age Phoenicians
1189-1186 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Setnakhte (founder of 20th Dynasty)
1186-1155 BC - reign of Egyptian pharaoh, Rameses III (son of Setnakhte); is considered to be the last monarch of the New Kingdom to wield any substantial authority over Egypt, and his long reign saw the decline of Egyptian political and economic power, linked to a series of invasions and internal economic problems
1184 BC - traditional date for the Homeric sack of Troy
1181 BC - the Egyptian pharaoh, Rameses III, defeats the Sea Peoples on land in the Battle of Djahy in the southern Levant; almost all that we know about the battle comes from inscriptions on the mortuary temple of Ramesses III in Medinet Habu
1177 BC - Rameses III defeats the Sea Peoples for a second time this one at sea in the Battle of the Nile Delta, but in the process Egyptian power was severely weakened
ca. 1150 BC - Mycenae was attacked for a second time from the north (the return of the Herakleidai?), but this time it did not recover and people migrated to the countryside
ca. 1150-1100 BC - Most sites in Greece declined into a group of small villages surrounding the citadel; famine and emigration set the backdrop for a massive population drop; the so-called Sea Peoples eventually settled down following a century of upheaval in the eastern Mediterranean, and their names and tentative identifications include the Peleset with the biblical Philistines who gave their name to Palestine, the Ekwesh with the Greek Achaioi, the Denyen with the Greek Danoi, the Lukka with those who gave their name to the southwest Anatolian region of Lycia, the Sherden with the Sardinians, the Shekelesh with the Sicilians, the Teresh with the Tyrrhenians (or the Etruscans), the Tjeker with the Greek Teucrians from Anatolia, and the Meshwesh with the Libyans

Supplementary Resources (Videos, Photos, Other Podcasts)

Photo/Eastern Mediterranean & Near East in 14th century BC

Video/The Greatest Ancient Empire you have never heard of…The Mitanni

Video/Who were the Hittites? The history of the Hittite Empire

Video/The Bronze Age of Anatolia - The Rise and Collapse of Hittites

The Almost Forgotten Episode 3.1 Suppiluliuma - "Suppiluliuma was the greatest king of the Hittites, and helped to turn the Anatolian kingdom into perhaps the most powerful empire in the world for a time."


Wonders of the World Episode 14 The Temple of Rameses II at Abu Simbel - "Ramesses the Great, public relations genius, takes us to Abu Simbel to visit his masterpiece of self-glorification. We talk about his reign and visiting Aswan."

The History of English Podcast Ep 12 Early Greek, Hittite and the Trojan War - "Greek and Hittite civilizations emerge from Indo-European tribes in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks adopt an early form of writing and fight the Trojans. An alphabet allows the ancient history of the Greeks to be recorded in the Iliad and the Odyssey."

Video/The Mycenaeans The Real Civilization who fought the Trojan War

Map/Troad Region of Northwestern Anatolia

Video/Homer, the Trojan War & the Late Bronze Age Collapse

Video/The Trojan War | Explained as Short as Possible

Trojan War The Podcast (20 episodes) - "Jeff Wright gives a serialized telling, in contemporary language, of the myriad stories from Greek myth that together comprise the greatest epic of Western culture: the story of the Trojan War. All the great characters from Homer's Iliad are here - Achilles, Helen of Troy, Odysseys, the Olympian Gods - and all the famous moments from the story - The Trojan Horse, the Judgement of Paris, and Achilles' Heel. Episode after episode, Jeff delivers a conversational, addictive performance."

Myths and Legends Episode 132A Trojan War: The Wars to Come - "In this prelude to the Trojan War, we learn the origin of the most famous Greek hero, and maybe the most reviled Trojan prince. Also, you shouldn't let Hera plan your wedding because a bitter decade-long war might break out because of it, and if you invite Poseidon, you're going to get an immortal horse as a gift to your wedding so, you know, invite Poseidon."

Myths and Legends Episode 132B Trojan War: Some Foolish Thing - "This is the episode where Helen of Sparta becomes Helen of Troy, and an event happens that launches 1000 ships toward the city in the east. This is where it all begins."

Our Fake History Episode 15 Was There a Real Trojan War? (Part I) - "The Trojan War is one of humanity’s oldest tales of armed conflict. For the Ancient Greeks the war represented the bloody end of an historical epoch. The fall of the city marked the end of the so-called “Age of Heroes”, and heralded a new era where superhuman demi-gods would no longer walk the earth. But is the Trojan War just a myth, or was there a real conflict that provided the inspiration for the story?"

Our Fake History Episode 16 Was There a Real Trojan War? (Part II) - "In our quest to discover if the Trojan War was a verifiable historical event we have to grapple with the amateur archaeologist who first tried to solve that mystery. Heinrich Schliemann believed that he had found real proof that the city of Troy actually existed. His discoveries were some of the most celebrated archaeological finds of the late 19th century, which earned him the moniker “the father of archaeology”. But Schliemann was also a prolific liar who freely misrepresented his findings and invented wild stories about his personal life. Can we trust one of academia’s greatest scoundrels?"

Our Fake History Episode 17 Was There a Real Trojan War? (Part III) - "We have explored the myth of Trojan War and we have sung the Ballad of Heinrich Schliemann. All that’s left is to answer the question that has inspired this entire trilogy of episodes. To determine whether or not the Trojan War was based on a verifiable historical event we are going to have to scour the Iliad for clues, peruse ancient Hittite clay tablets, and examine all the archaeological evidence that wasn’t thrown in the trash by Heinrich Schliemann. Will we solve the great Trojan puzzle?"

The Maritime History Podcast Episode 17 Black Ships on Trojan Shores - "Today we delve into a grey area between myth and history: the Trojan War. The Homeric epic poem The Iliad is now one of the most well known Greek myths. Before the discoveries of Mycenae and Troy around the turn of the century, almost no one believed that the Trojan War had actually happened. Now, archaeological evidence from Troy and other Anatolian coastal cities, combined with letters and treaties found in Hittite archives give us a glimpse at a what may be the historical basis of the Trojan War. Homer tells us of black ships on Trojan shores and of epic clashes between heroes who were aided by the gods. The Hittite archives tell us of Mycenaean raiders on the Anatolian coast and of a Hittite king who moved in to quell a Mycenaean backed rebellion."

Video/Was there a Trojan War? Recent Excavations at Troy

Map/Invasions and Migrations, ca. 1200 BC

Video/Crash Course: The End of Civilization (In the Bronze Age) - "Through a complex network of trade and alliances, there was a loosely confederated and relatively continuous civilization in the region that encompassed Egypt, The Levant, and Mesopotamia. Why it all fell apart was a mystery. Was it the invasion of the Sea People? An earthquake storm? Or just a general collapse, to which complex systems are prone?"

Fall of Civilizations Ep 02 - The Bronze Age Collapse - Mediterranean Apocalypse - "Sometime around the year 1100 BC, a wave of destruction washed over the Eastern Mediterranean. It wiped whole civilizations off the map, and left only ash and ruin in its wake. This catastrophe, known as “the Late Bronze Age Collapse”, has become one of the enduring puzzles of archaeology. I want to explore how so many societies could collapse all at once, and seemingly without warning, as well as examine the lessons it might teach us in our increasingly globalized and interconnected world."

Ancient Greece Declassified Ep 02 Bronze Age Apocalypse - "Most of the civilizations of the late bronze age were mysteriously destroyed at around the same time in the 12th century BC. Archaeologists have been debating what caused this destruction for over a century. Was it invaders? An earthquake storm? Famine and drought? Plague? Was it the mysterious "Sea Peoples" mentioned in the Egyptian sources as destroying everything in their path? Joining us is archaeologist and ancient historian Eric Cline."

Video/The Bronze Age Collapse - Before the Storm - "Egyptians. Hittites. Assyrians. Myceneans. Long ago, these four Bronze Age civilizations lived together in a healthy system of trade, agriculture, and sometimes warfare. But then, everything changed when the Sea People attacked."

Video/The Bronze Age Collapse - The Wheel and the Rod - "Bronze Age societies built intricate networks of trade, advanced military infrastructure, and hugely organized central governments. But when crucial parts of those systems disappear, the societies built on them began to crumble."

Video/The Bronze Age Collapse - Fire and Sword - "At last, we have the Sea People: marauders who swept into Bronze Age cities and ground them into dust. But while they're often blamed for the Bronze Age Collapse, were they really its cause? What else must have been going on to cause such illustrious civilizations to crumble?"

Video/The Bronze Age Collapse - Systems Collapse - "It started with famine... and ended with four great civilizations' utter destruction. The Bronze Age Collapse is still a matter of scholarly debate, but our favorite theory rests on an understanding of Systems Collapse and how societies build themselves to survive disaster."

Video/Who were the Sea People? Bronze Age Collapse

History of Pirates Podcast Episode 02 Ancient Pirates & The Quest For Stuff - "We cover the Earliest Pirates known as The Sea Peoples."

Video/Invasions of the Sea Peoples: Egypt & The Late Bronze Age Collapse

Video/Why did Ancient Egypt Collapse?

The Maritime History Podcast Episode 18 The Beginning of the End - "We take a look at the beginning of the end for the cultures and powers of the Bronze Age world. We make our first visit to the Levantine trade center of Ugarit, a city that will factor heavily in our look at the Late Bronze Age Collapse. Then, after a look at the broad roadmap of occurrences during the period, we will see the first mention of the Sherden, a group that became part of the Sea Peoples. The Hittites and Egyptians clash at Qadesh, the Aegean begins to unravel, and the Assyrians deal a death blow to the Hittite Empire. We finish by looking at a treaty that sought to cut off Assyrian access to the Mediterranean trade routes."

The Maritime History Podcast Episode 19 Ugarit in Flames - "We look at two Hittite invasions of Cyprus using borrowed ships, Egypt's first battle with the Sea Peoples, and the practice of using human hands as accounting units. After that, we will delve into the causes of the Late Bronze Age Collapse: earthquake, climate change, drought, famine, and invasion. With each of these causes we will look at the evidence as it comes. Finally, we have recovered letters from many cities like Ugarit, cities that were ultimately destroyed. These letters open a window on to the actions and fears of kings and merchants as the Bronze Age World collapsed underneath them."

Photo/Merenptah Stele (Egyptian Hieroglyphs)

The Maritime History Podcast Episode 20 The Sea Peoples Sail South: Vol. II - "We wrap up our look at the Late Bronze Age Collapse. We focus heavily on Egypt's naval clash with the Sea Peoples in 1177 BCE. Our main sources are the inscriptions and relief at the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. The relief in particular is very enlightening, revealing for the first time the use of a new sail type by both the Sea Peoples and the Egyptians. We talk about this technological development and finish up by looking a bit at where the Sea Peoples ended up and how the stage was set for the dawn of the Iron Age."

Video/1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed (Eric Cline)

* Drews, Robert. 1993. The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe ca. 1200 B.C. Princeton UP.
* Strauss, Barry. 2007. The Trojan War: A New History. Simon & Schuster.
* Cline, Eric. 2015. 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed. Princeton UP.


  1. Absolutely fantastic. Treasure chest of information and knowledge. Thanks for all your hard work!

    1. Hey Paul, thank you for the nice comment! Glad you are enjoying it!