May 12, 2016

Luwians vs. Hittites and Mycenaeans vs. Luwians

A rather imaginative reconstruction of the events surrounding the Sea Peoples and the ending of the end of the Bronze Age.


ron quiroriano said...

Thanks for posting this Dienekes, the bronze age was a very chaotic period at times, and the newest evidence is showing a climate related causation for the four major periods of societal unrest and conflict. The fall of the Indus civ, Akkadian empire, and the egyptian first intermediate period all correspond to a worldwide climate downturn in the 22nd cent, the mid 17th cent sees a great deal of strife as does the 13th cent. with the collapse of the myceneans and the influx of the sea peoples.
Now the biggest questions are what are the causes for said downturns, evidence of which can be found around the world.
Two of the events, the events in the mid 24th and the end of the 23rd , will eventually be accepted as impact events as there is ample evidence for such, and major volcanic eruptions such as Thera and Hekla will account for the others.
Mike Baillie and associates have found plenty of evidence for these downturns and have done a good job in sorting out the causes, there newest paper can be found here

Much evidence exists for the major climate anomaly c2200-2000 BC. In this paper, we demonstrate that precisely dated Irish bog oaks record this climatic event, which appears to begin abruptly in 2206 BC and last until around 1900 BC. However, it might be unwise to ignore the precisely dated, abrupt environmental downturn that occurs some 150 years earlier. Irish and English oak tree rings draw attention to a notable decade-long growth downturn spanning 2354 BC to 2345 BC with hints of inundation. Interest in this apparently localized inundation led to the discovery that traditions from around the world specify dated stories within 10 years of 2350 BC.

The paper in this post,, hints that some extra ordinary events happened in antiquity.

la señora bibiloni said...

Does it need to be a "Luwian civilization" like the Egypthian one? Maybe a tribal Luwian-speaking confederation could have done the trick all the same...

ben-canaan said...

I understand the human need for narratives, driven by clear, singular causes. And as far as stories about the LB collapse go, the Luwian-centric one isn't so outlandish. But as Eric Cline emphasizes by the end of 1177 (a popularization, but still thought out well), trying to hone in on a single variable to explain the collapse of a complex system is a fool's errand. No one serious denying that Western Anatolia was implicated in the LB collapse — but presenting it as the epicenter of it all is both groundless and pointless.

andrew said...

Nobody doubts that Bronze Age collapse happened. Nobody doubts that Sea Peoples raided coastal civilizations in the Eastern Med. Nobody doubts (any more) that the Trojan War really happened. Bronze Age collapse did fell the Mycenean, the Hittite and the Egyptian empires, ushering in the Iron Age a few hundred years later.

But, I am with those that look to fundamentals like climate change and declining trade, rather than to the particular military and political coalitions that seized the moment to tear down civilization. And, a focus on Luwian Civilization is undermined by the fact that Bronze Age collapse had an impact as far away as Denmark, rather than being limited to the Eastern Med.

Could Luwians have played a part in effectuating Bronze Age Collapse? Sure. Did they do so as a well organized central coalition that was the primary proximate cause of the demise of Mycenean, Hittite and Egyptian civilization? I rather doubt it.

Were Luwians the Sea People? They may have been one subset of Sea People, but we know from archaeological evidence that one group of Sea People (the Philistines) were Mycenean Greeks who were resettled in basically the Gaza Strip pursuant to a deal with Egypt to leave it alone in future raids. Realistically, the Sea People were less an ethnically defined nation and more a disparate collection of refugees and raiders aggressively seeking out resources from coastal cities when the economies of their homelands collapsed for reasons beyond their control.

Constantinos said...

This comes from a privately financed (!) archaeological organization which aims exclusively to set light to the supposed Luwian culture ("Luwian studies": Given the lack of funds in the archaeological research, if anything else, this sounds at least unique. From their webpage:

"Since 1991, the research results described have been almost exclusively privately financed. Consequently, the perspectives presented here are completely independent of national interests and research institutions. "

Interesting conclusion, I didn't know that an American university (for example) would ever have any national interests when performing research on the ancient history of the mediterranean. And that a privately financed organization would be by definition beyond such criticism. And then, you read again in their website:

"The knowledge gap that Luwian Studies aims to close evolved over time and may have formed as a result of the former polarization between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Archaeology as a scientific discipline constituted itself at a time when Europe was competing against the then-powerful Ottoman Empire. "

Which does not go very well with the statement "the perspectives presented here are completely independent of national interests" that they make earlier in this page. No surprise that their storytelling is not really approved by the academic community. Given the background of the contributors, this sounds so weird.

Constantinos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Apóstolos Papaðimitríu said...

I believe the Trojans might have been non-Indo-Europeans and their defeat facilitated Hellenic colonization of Asia Minor. Also, as a result, Anatolian IE speakers moved closer to the Hellenic colonies and many of them became Hellenes. For example the father of Herodotus may have of mixed Hellenic and Carian heritage.

andrew said...

"I believe the Trojans might have been non-Indo-Europeans and their defeat facilitated Hellenic colonization of Asia Minor. Also, as a result, Anatolian IE speakers moved closer to the Hellenic colonies and many of them became Hellenes."

No and not exactly.

The Trojans lost the war to the Greeks in the 12th century BCE. The Greeks conquered Anatolia under Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE. And, contemporaneous Hittite records strong suggest that the Trojans spoke an IE language, quite likely Luwian or a close relative of it.

Gary Moore said...

I still prefer the more widely-accepted belief that the the fall of the Hittite Empire and the palace culture of Mycenaean Greece was due to a prolonged drought that weakened the fragile political culture that existed in the late bronze Age. If you read some of the accounts of the era, such as Virgil's account of the migration of King Teucer and the account of the Anatolian origin of the Etruscans given by Herodotus, drought as a driver of displacement of peoples looms large.

The idea of a "conspiracy" behind the fall of the great kingdoms of the Bronze Age goes back to Egyptians:

"The foreign countries (ie. Sea Peoples) made a conspiracy in their islands, All at once the lands were removed and scattered in the fray. No land could stand before their arms: from Hatti, Qode, Carchemish, Arzawa and Alashiya on, being cut off [ie. destroyed] at one time. ..."

Perhaps the Egyptians, who relied more on the Nile than rainfall, simply did not comprehend the extent of desperation that a prolonged severe drought would have caused other agricultural societies.

There is also an issue of dating the Trojan War. Many scholars believe that the war, if it did occur ("the Willusa affair"), preceded the collapse of the Hittite and Mycenaean kingdoms.

The displacement of various peoples caused by the Bronze Age collapse and the accounts of the Lycians given by Herodotus inspired French Jesuit missionary Joseph-François Lafitau to suggest that the Hurons and other Iroquois tribes were descended from refugees from the Trojan War. (An interesting implication of the Lafitau's theory is that the "barbarous people who first occupied Greece" were speakers of Anatolian languages.) Indeed, there are a number of intriguing parallels between the mythology of the Hittites and the Iroquois. The Hittite myth of the storm god Tarhunt slaying the serpent Illuyanka has a parallel the Iroquois thunder god Hinon and the horned serpent Oniare, and the Cherokee Thunderers and the Uktens. Even the stone giant Ullikummi has a counterpart in Stone Coat/Stone Clad of the Iroquois and Cherokee. These parallels, however, are more likely due to a common origin rather than a mass migration from the Near East.

H Grossman said...

I don't completely buy the whole scenario although a lot of it makes sense. I can't see 400 years of a Greek dark age caused by civil war. What about the Dorian invasion from the north. Seems more like the Mycenaeans might have become weakened by civil war, allowing other non-literate peoples to move into Greece.

Labayu said...

Actually "Sea Peoples" usually appears in quotation marks in the archaeological literature these days because it's generally thought of as an invention of 19th Century scholars that relies on a number of assumptions and speculative connections rather than any straight-forward reading of the primary sources. Which is not to say that the existence of the people represented by those individual ethnonyms is doubted or that there wasn't a collapse of sorts.

In any case, we now have strong evidence of a Philistine in northern Syria - at least two inscriptions that I'm aware of. Most important is the one in Luwian that most likely dates to the 11th Century and reads "King Taita am I, Philistine King. For my lord the Aleppan Storm-God I honered the image." It's on a statue found in Kohlmeyer's excavation in Aleppo.

peter hodges said...

This is an interesting topic.

The growing acknowledgment of the extent and time-depth of the Anatolian languages in Anatolia contradicts many of the cherished narratives of the last century. What 30 years ago was heresy, barely mentioned except in popular treatments by Michael Wood or Robert Drews, is now becoming generally accepted. That is very interesting to follow.

If one searches Amazon for "luwian" books one finds exclusively philological treatments etc, barely a single book on Luwian culture or history. This will be the first. Yet the Luwian zone, roughly a diagonal from Cilicia to Troy, was the most densely and anciently populated portion of Anatolia. The earliest attestation so far of Anatolian names are circa 2000bc from the Karum of Kanesh, where both Nesili (Hittite) and Luwian names are attested. Nesili was "the language of Kanesh" and only later become known as the language of the Hittite empire. There is ever more increasing evidence that the entire Aegean was populated by people speaking Anatolian or related languages throughout the bronze age.

A decent starting point on the entire topic is the anthology "Greater Anatolia and the Indo-Hittite Language Family" edited by Robert Drews. And even that volume, 15 years out of date, is almost the only thing on the subject to be found.

I find of most interest that the earliest attested IE languages are found in Southwest Anatolia and where we already have a diversity: Several Anatolian languages, and one likely Indian Language (with the Mitanni, and associated area wide "Maryannu").

dan said...

off topic ,but maybe a future topic
is any connection between zalmoxian religion and christianity or islam?

Gary Moore said...

I've recently been studying Luwian and Hittite. It has to be understood that Luwian influence had been gradually increasing in the Hittite Empire well before its fall. In other words, there was not a sudden Luwian takeover. There is some evidence that famine, plagues, and dynastic struggles all contributed to the decline and fall of the Hittite Empire, just as it did the Roman Empire. Likewise, the Kaska had sacked and burned Hattusas more than once before, and what hap[ended was that the Hittites were simply too exhausted to rebuild.

Regarding the antiquity of the Anatolian languages and the linguist diversity of Southwest Anatolia, Gutian, which is suspected of being an Indo-European language, should also be included in the mix. The Gutians briefly overran the Akkadian Empire in the 22nd century BCE. Some historians vaguely suspect that Gutian was somehow related to Tocharian, although the evidence of their language is scanty. One word that may be of Gutian origin and was subsequently borrowed into Hittite by way of Akkadian was LÚHATANU ‘son-in-law' (most likely meaning 'he has joined the family'), which has been linked to Western Assyrian hathno ‘son-in-law. This form does not been to have a clear Proto Semitic etymology. It does however, resembles Avestan 'belonging to the family' as well as Hittite 'family'. Quite possibly, it was borrowed into Akkadian from an Indo-European language, most likely either Indo-Aryan Mittani, or Gutian.