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The Sea People

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Consider this: at the height of the Bronze Age, during a time of imperial expansion and increased literacy and advanced agriculture methods, nearly every empire was submerged in a period of deconstruction. This period lasted fewer than seventy years, yet by its end, most of the known world was set back hundreds. The Assyrians, the Hittites, the Greeks, and the Egyptians suffered tremendous loss. What caused this, the event to which historians refer as the Bronze Age Collapse? The evidence leads to various possibilities: famine, disease, and other Malthusian catastrophes. The most supported of these possibilities, albeit still ambiguous, is the emergence of the Sea People, a massive seafaring tribe of marauders.

The Sea People originated from the Aegean Sea and migrated around the Mediterranean, pillaging every civilization they found for reasons no one knows. Lasting less than a century, according to historians, the Sea People conquered an immeasurable amount of territory–yet they never settled it. They destroyed and took, but did not occupy any of the land. As far as historians currently know, the Sea People disappeared without a trace.

Where did they come from? Their first traces were around the Aegean Sea, but most of their prevalence was in sea towns along the Mediterranean. There is no evidence for where they resided before their emergence, and there is none for where they went after fighting the multitudes of empires.

The Sea People are an ambiguous entity who possibly caused the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Dark Age. No one knows whence they came; no one knows where they went. Four thousand years have passed, and little has been revealed. Perhaps the future will be different concerning the Sea People’s origins.

Drawing by an Egyptian artist of the Sea People’s invasion on King Ramsey’s fortification

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Evan McElveen, Writer

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The Sea People