Philistines: Greeks or Egyptians?

By Vern Crisler

Copyright, 2004

Rough Draft 

1.  Courville’s View

2. Terminological Confusion

3.  Circular Reasoning and Terminology

4.  What’s In a Name?

5.  A Mysterious Homeland

6.  The Archaeology of Crete

7.  Pottery Anachronisms

8.  Religious Anachronisms: Dagon or Ashdoda?

9.  Linear A

10.  Mycenaean Influences

11.  The Sea Peoples & Politics



1.  Courville’s View:


Our chronological perspective is called the Neo-Courville Interpretation, or New Courville for short.  In the process of comparing and contrasting our view with Donovan Courville’s own view (which we have dubbed Classic Courville), we have found an area of major agreement, and an area of major disagreement.  Our major area of agreement is with Courville’s understanding of the Exodus and Conquest.  He correlated this major event as recorded in the Bible with the end of what is known as the Early Bronze Age.  In this, Professor Anati now agrees with Courville (though not necessarily on the time frame).


Our major area of disagreement, as we have stated many times, is with Courville’s view on the later history of Israel.  From our perspective, Courville erroneously followed Velikovsky in equating biblical Shishak with Thutmose 3.  We think that this has created a number of problems for Courville, the main one being stratigraphic.  Whoever wants to bring the Late Bronze Age down into the 8th century or into the 6th century, will have a hard time justifying such a view in light of the archaeology of Samaria.  This was a city first built in the 9th century BC, and its pottery horizon is from at least Iron Age 2.  This 9th century construction of Samaria serves as a terminus ante quem—a must-be-earlier-than-point–for the Late Bronze Age.


Attempting to squeeze the Late Bronze Age into the time between Solomon and the 8th century Assyrians made it very difficult for Courville to give a correct interpretation of the history of the Philistines, the Greeks, and the later Egyptians.  In our view, some of the errors he makes with respect to the Philistines and Greek history stem from his rather convoluted reconstruction of the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt, and we will have to challenge his views on that at a later time.  In the meantime, we can walk through the history of the Philistines, the Trojan War, and the history of Greece, and since Courville wrote chapters on these topics, we can see where we agree or disagree with Courville.


In addition to a critique of Courville’s views on the Philistines, we must also undertake a critique of conventional views on the Philistines, as well as conventional views of the history of Crete.  Courville has already provided the lead here and we will make full use of it as we proceed.


2. Terminological Confusion 


When Courville wrote his book, the Exodus Problem, prior to 1971, he did not have access to the illuminating book by Trude and Moshe Dothan, People of the Sea, The Search for the Philistines, published in 1992 (hereafter referred to as Dothans, POTS).  This was a popular account of their more academic archaeological and historical study of the Philistines’ material culture.  Their survey of the history of theories about the Philistines could have cleared up some of the confusions surrounding this topic among earlier alternative chronologists.


While not entirely wrong, Courville’s view of the Philistines is still a bit flawed.  For instance, he recognizes artistic similarity between the bichrome ware starting at the end of the Middle Bronze age, and the bichrome ware of the early Iron Age, and concludes:


“[t]hat the pottery is that of the Sea Peoples is evident in both cases.” (EP, 2:232.)


Here, Courville would be entirely mistaken if it were not for the fact that he is (unhelpfully) using the term “Sea Peoples” as a generic term.  There is no question that Courville regards the earlier bichrome as the pottery of the Sea Peoples.  He says,


“The problem of tracing the culture of the Sea Peoples backward in time is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is the fact that these people may not have had a single culture.” (Ibid., 2:231.)


Notice that Courville is attempting to trace the culture of the Sea Peoples backward in time.  Yet since the Sea Peoples are correlated stratigraphically to the bichrome ware of the early Iron Age, it is pointless to attempt to find this pottery prior to the Iron Age.  Courville’s generic use of the term “Sea Peoples” can lead one to think that the so-called “Philistine pottery” of Iron 1 can be found in a period prior to the invasion of Egypt by the Sea Peoples, namely at the end of the Middle Bronze Age, where Courville attempts to trace it.  Nevertheless, it cannot be found earlier than the Iron Age, as Albright was to demonstrate in his work on the issue.  The Dothans say:


“On the basis of his own work at the inland site of Tell Beit Mirsim from 1926 to 1932, Albright had found stratigraphic confirmation for the appearance of Philistine pottery only in the levels that began in the twelfth century  B.C. [sic], shortly after the war with Ramesses III.  In 1932 he published an article in the American Journal of Archaeology in which he convincingly restored Philistine pottery to its proper chronological place.” (Dothans, POTS, p. 69)


This shows the dangers—even for archaeologists–in using the term “Sea Peoples” as a  generic term.  Albright has correlated the pottery of the Sea Peoples to the time of Ramses 3, near the beginning of the Iron Age.  If that is the case, then the pottery of the Sea Peoples (i.e., the so-called “Philistine pottery”) is archaeologically correlated with a specific time period in the stratigraphic record.  That the bichrome pottery of the late Middle Bronze Age shows artistic similarities to the Iron Age bichrome is granted, but it is fallacious to attempt to connect these two styles of pottery by extending the term “Sea Peoples” through a generic usage.


Besides using the term Sea Peoples as a generic term, Courville also late-dated the Sea Peoples’ invasion to an excessive degree.  He dates it to around 700 B.C., after the fall of Northern Israel to the Assyrians.  He clearly recognizes that the Sea Peoples are correlated to Iron Age 1 (Ibid., 2:231), but he fails to note that the Assyrians of late 8th century and forward are correlated to the beginning of Iron 2c, or at least to the end of Iron 2b.  (Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, pp. 372-73.)  How is it possible to make the Iron 1 strata contemporary with later Iron Age 2b or 2c strata?


3.  Circular Reasoning and Terminology


Despite the problems noted above, we think Courville was on the right track for the most part, especially with his recognition that the Philistines were already in their historic homeland (southwest coast of the Holy Land) prior to the Sea Peoples’ invasion of Egypt.  Taking into account Courville’s (somewhat misleading) generic use of the term Sea Peoples, we agree with the following:


“[S]ome branch of the Sea Peoples occupied the territory long before the Conquest, reaching back into the era which must be recognized as that of the time of Abraham.” (Exodus Problem, 2:235.)


Indeed, the Philistines—not the Sea Peoples—are placed by the Bible in the time of Abraham.  Furthermore, they are mentioned by Joshua at the time of the Conquest, and later became the oppressors of Israel during the time of Samuel and Saul.  This is, of course, long before 700 B.C.  Courville says:


“The ‘new pottery’ found at Askelon at the beginning of Iron I then belongs to the era c. 700 B.C. and not 1200 B.C., and so also does the incident of the invasion of the Sea Peoples.  If this pottery had an origin with the Sea Peoples…, then it is a culture of the Sea Peoples of Aegean origin in the era following the fall of Israel to the Assyrians (721 B.C.)….Sennacherib of Assyria (705-681) marched his armies into Philistine territory and ‘punished Askelon.’  This punishment evidently involved destruction of the city, and this destruction may be recognized as that revealed archaeologically just prior to the occupation of this site by the Sea Peoples.” (Exodus Problem 2:231.)


The stratigraphic problems of making the Iron 1 Sea Peoples contemporaneous with the Iron 2b Assyrians rule out Courville’s 700 BC date for the invasion of the Sea Peoples.  Nevertheless, we will assume the correctness of Courville’s view that the Philistines arrived in the Holy Land much earlier than the time of the historic Sea Peoples.  Since the term “Sea Peoples” is usually correlated to a specific archaeological stratum, the Iron 1 period, we will take care not to use it as a generic term for any Aegean or Greco-Mediterranean cultures present in the Holy Land prior to the Sea Peoples.


Indeed, we wish that conventional archaeologists had used a different term than “Philistine” ware, since it makes an unwarranted assumption about when the Philistines first arrived in the Holy Land.  This is where Albright went wrong.  Since in our view, the Philistines were in the Holy Land a great deal earlier than the Sea Peoples period, we hold that the Philistines were using whatever pottery was available in the southwest coast of Canaan since the time of Abraham.  If it was “Canaanite” pottery, then so be it.  If it was Minoan or Mycenaean pottery, then that’s what the Philistines would have been using.


Under New Courville, Abraham lived during the fourth dynasty of Egypt, i.e., during the Early Bronze Age.  That being so, one need only examine the pottery of the traditional Philistine homeland in southwest Canaan, and one will find the pottery that was used by the Philistines.  It is a mistake to tie the Philistines strictly to the Sea Peoples pottery since that would ultimately depend on Gaston Maspero’s claim that the Philistines first arrived in the Holy Land at the time of Ramses 3, i.e., the Iron 1 period.  We regard Maspero’s claim to be false, and Albright’s reliance on Maspero’s false premiss led to the false conclusion that the Philistines are to be tied strictly to so-called “Philistine” pottery of the IA1 period.    To repeat: there is no a priori reason why the Philistines must be tied to the so-called “Philistine pottery” of the Iron 1 period.


In order to clarify this issue further, we will suggest the following terminology:


a.  The Philistines who were living in Canaan prior to the Sea Peoples, as evidenced by biblical history, will be termed “Old Philistines.”  These were the ones who were contemporaries of Abraham, who were later temporarily driven out of the Holy Land by Joshua’s armies, and who would later return to oppress the Israelites during the days of Eli, Samuel, and Saul.


b.  Next, the earliest pottery of the Sea Peoples—Mycenaean 3c:1b (early monochrome)—will simply be termed, “Sea Peoples ware.”


c.  Lastly, the Mycenaean 3c:1b (bichrome) pottery that later grew out of this Sea Peoples ware, and traditionally known as “Philistine” ware, will be called the pottery of the “New Philistines.”


New Philistine ware is the bichrome ware, and the earlier monochrome ware is Sea Peoples ware.  The “Canaanite” pottery and the “Mycenaean” pottery in Canaan prior to the Sea Peoples ware will be associated with the Old Philistines.  The conventional use of term “Canaanite” to describe this pottery begs the question in our opinion.


Why are we emphasizing the issue of terminology at this point?  The main reason is that we want to point out the petitio principii that is committed by those who deny the historical accuracy of biblical history with respect to Philistine history.  Since the Bible mentions the Philistines as living in Canaan at least since Abraham’s day, this is in contradiction to the claim that the Philistines first came to the Holy Land at a much later period, just before the days of the United Monarchy.  On conventional chronology, Abraham was living in the MB1 period, and the Philistines first arrived in the Iron 1 period.  If the conventional view is correct, then the Bible is mistaken in saying the Philistines were in Canaan at the time of Abraham.  Arguing that the term “Philistine” is used anachronistically mitigates but does not remove the apparent contradiction between the Bible and archaeology.


If it is suggested by alternative chronologists that the Philistines were in Canaan long before the Iron 1 period, the conventional reply would be that this is false because no “Philistine pottery” exists prior to the Iron 1 period.  But why should we grant that Sea Peoples ware is really Philistine pottery?  It appears to be an amalgamation of several different pottery styles based on the Greek or Aegean tribes making up the Sea Peoples.  It’s true that Philistines were mentioned as part of this group, but that does not necessarily mean it was their own pottery style.


The idea that the Philistines first arrived in Canaan at the same time that the Sea Peoples arrived is simply false in our view.  Since when was this proposition proven?  We know that Gaston Maspero was the first to make the claim, but what was his evidence?  Apparently, the mere fact that the Egyptians mentioned the Philistines (i.e., the Peleset) as being a part of this coalition was enough, in Maspero’s view, to prove that this was also the first arrival of the Philistines to the Holy Land.  The Dothans say:


“Maspero, who was later to succeed to DeRouge’s professorship at the College de France and, ultimately, to the directorship of the Egyptian Antiquities Service, took this idea a step further.  Chaba’s theories of Philistine migration from the Aegean, he believed, could be fitted into the scheme of biblical history.  Since the Bible notes that the Philistines were migrants to Canaan from the “coastline of Caphtor,” tentatively identified with Crete, the Medinet Habu reliefs actually showed them at the time of their arrival in the eastern Mediterranean.  Maspero further suggested, on the basis of what he believed was conclusive new evidence, that the Philistines’ defeat by Ramsesses III was the reason for their eventual settlement along the Canaanite coast.” (Dothans, POTS, pp. 26-27.)


What was the new evidence?  In the 1870s, Anthony Harris found a papyrus that was written after Ramses 3’s death.  The papyrus tells what the Pharaoh did after the Sea Peoples’ invasion.  Ramses 3 is made to speak in the first person and proclaims his greatness in typical pharaonic style:


“I extended the frontiers of Egypt….I slew the Denyen in their islands, while the Tjekker and Philistines were made ashes.  The Sherden and the Weshesh of the sea were made non-existent, captured all together and brought in captivity to Egypt like the sands of the shore.  Their military classes were as numerous as hundred-thousands.  I assigned portions for them all with clothing and provisions from the treasuries and granaries every year.” (Quoted in Dothans, POTS, p. 27.)


Here the Pharaoh says he defeated certain enemies (including Philistines), and resettled the captives.  Certainly this tells us that Ramses 3 captured and resettled a number of peoples, including Philistines, but where does it say the Philistines first arrived in Canaan at this time?  The Dothans say, “The Philistines, Maspero explained, had migrated from the Aegean at the beginning of the twelfth century B.C., and, after an unsuccessful attempt to stop them [sic], Ramses III settled a significant number as vassals in the Egyptian-ruled cities of the Canaanite coast.” (Idem.)


According to the Dothans this “deft reconstruction of accumulated evidence was the crowning achievement of nearly a century of exploration, discovery, and research.  What had previously been surmised from the Bible and Greek legend was now found written on parchment and chiseled in stone.  Maspero had demonstrated that the Philistines were part of a great migration from the Aegean to the eastern Mediterranean, and in identifying the various invaders, as did DeRouge and Chabas, with peoples mentioned in Greek history and legend, he coined a term that has been used to describe them ever since: Les Peuples de la Mer, the Peoples of the Sea.” (Ibid., pp. 27-28.)


Our view is just the opposite.  It was the crowning failure of nearly a century of exploration, discovery, and research.  It made selective use of biblical history (arrival from Crete) to support the view of the Philistines as part of the Sea Peoples migration, but ignored other biblical evidence contradicting this conclusion (namely that the Philistines were already in Canaan at the time of Abraham).


The fact is, the time of the Philistine’s first arrival in Canaan cannot be inferred from the Harris papyrus, nor from the Medinet Habu reliefs.  All that can be inferred from these sources is that some Philistines joined with some Aegean tribes to attack Egypt during the days of Ramses 3.  That is all.  It does not say these Philistines came from the Aegean at that time, nor that this was their first arrival in the land of Canaan.  Maspero merely assumes this, and it has been the assumption of conventional chronology since then, and especially since Albright clarified the archaeology of Palestine early in the 20th century.


Again, the mere fact that the Philistines joined up with a Sea Peoples confederation at one point in their history provides no grounds for an inference that this was the first time the Philistines arrived in the Holy Land.  It is simply a non-sequitur.  Nevertheless, it is this unsupported inference—jumping from identification to first arrival—that serves as the basis for claiming that Sea Peoples ware is Philistine pottery, and that the Philistines could not have been in the Holy Land prior to the Iron 1 period.


Accordingly, pointing to so-called Philistine pottery as proof that the Philistines could not have been in the Holy Land prior to the Iron 1 period is just begging the question in a fairly blatant way.


Excursus:  This is in answer to those who deny that the Philistines are identified with the Mycenaean 3c:1b pottery because of conventional reliance on Maspero’s views:  First, as was noted above Maspero argued that the Philistines first showed up in the Holy Land at the time of Ramses 3. (Dothans, People of the Sea, p. 27.)  “The Philistines, Maspero explained, had migrated from the Aegean at the beginning of the twelfth century B.C....” (Dothans, Idem.)  “This deft [sic] reconstruction of accumulated evidence was the crowning achievement of nearly a century of exploration, discovery, and research.” (Idem.)  “Maspero had demonstrated that the Philistines were part of a great migration from the Aegean to the eastern Mediterranean....” (Idem.)  Second, the claim that the Philistines were part of the Sea Peoples and that they arrived in the Holy Land at the same time as the Sea Peoples leads to the view that Philistine pottery is Aegean.  Furtwangler and Loeschcke’s Fourth Style of Mycenaean pottery was identified with the pottery of the Sea Peoples (now known as Mycenaean 3c:1b). (Dothans, Ibid., p. 30.) So-called Philistine ware was not Minoan in style but was related to Mycenaean. (Ibid., p. 39.)  “Each region of the Mycenaean world, it seemed, had contributed something to Philistine ware.” (Ibid., p. 51.)  “The Philistines were part of the Mycenaean world, not its destroyers.” (Dothans, Ibid., p. 52; summarizing the views of Heurtley.)  Third, the Dothans point out that there were two views on the origins of the Philistines. The first thought they  were northern invaders.  The second believed that Philistine:  “...pottery and culture had developed from within Mycenaean tradition and that the Philistines were a civilizing force, bringing a high level of culture to Canaan after the destruction of Mycenaean cities at the end of the Late Bronze Age.” (Ibid., p. 55.)  Fourth, so-called Philistine pottery was limited to the Early Iron Age by the work of Albright. (Ibid, p. 72.): “Albright had found stratigraphic confirmation for the appearance of Philistine pottery only in the levels that began in the twelfth century B.C....” (Ibid, p. 69.)  Fifth, the main problem was attempting to trace the geographical origins of the Philistines. Some argued they were from Crete, but all the archaeology showed that the pottery was part of the Mycenaean tradition, hence the term Mycenaean 3c to describe the so-called Philistine pottery. (Ibid., p. 89.)  Scholars had once regarded Philistine culture as a “dutiful imitation of the Mycenaean” culture, but the Dothans argue in their book that Philistine culture had elements of “Late Bronze Age Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, and Canaan....” (Ibid, p. 95.)  Sixth, where, may I ask, was it ever proven that the Philistines arrived in the Holy Land at the same time the Sea Peoples arrived (the time of Ramses 3). And once again, I ask, where?  The fact is, it was never proven. It was merely assumed by Maspero. But once this assumption was made, scholars could then find all sorts of correlations between the Philistines and Mycenaean culture. The list of correlation I provide below is based in part on correlations suggested by the Dothans (pp. 214ff of their book).  Seventh, their correlations were only with respect to supposed biblical parallels.  Other scholars do not hesitate to appeal to the Sea Peoples pottery to suggest correlations between Mycenaean culture and Philistine culture.  We regard this latter as simply begging the question, for these scholars must first prove that the Philistines were a) Sea Peoples, and b) showed up in the Holy Land at the same time as the Sea Peoples under a).  Eighth, if scholars had not adopted Maspero’s claims at face value, there would have been a lot less talk about a “Mycenaean” influence on the biblical Philistines, and a lot less talk about finding their “mysterious” homeland.


4.  What’s In a Name?


The term “Philistine” is often thought of as signifying a boorish person, or the quality of one’s views on art, i.e., reactionary or commonplace.  According to the Dothans, the negative meaning came into use when a German chaplain excoriated the people of Jena in 1693 as crude and unlettered for abusing some university students.  (POTS, p. 3.)


The Bible, however, doesn’t portray the Philistines as uncultured, but rather leaves the impression that they were attractive to the Israelites.  For instance, the Danite judge Samson was attracted to a Philistine woman and married her (Jud. 14), then found a Philistine harlot to his liking from Gaza (Jud. 16), then wound up with Delilah, who was probably a Philistine woman–given Samson’s previous history, and since she so readily helped the lords of the Philistines capture Samson (16:4ff).  It’s obvious that the Philistines had something that was regarded as desirable and attractive to the Israelites, even though they were at the same time regarded as oppressors.


To be sure, the Philistines ruled over and oppressed the Israelites, but they were at least brave, if not wise, in the face of the “mighty gods” who had delivered the Israelites from Egypt (1 Sam. 4:8-9).  However, they could–like most men—evidence cowardice on occasion (1 Sam. 17).


During Saul’s days, some Hebrews made alliances with the Philistines (1 Sam. 14:21), including David himself (1 Sam. 27).  However, in the latter case, David was merely using the Philistines as cover for his raids against traditional Canaanite enemies (27:8ff), and as a way to hide from Saul.    Much later, the Philistines would bring tribute to Jehoshaphat during the Divided Kingdom period (2 Chr. 17:11).  Uzziah would also make war against the Philistines and break down the walls of their cities (2 Chr. 26).  Later, Nehemiah lamented the fact that Jews had married women of Ashdod, and that half their children spoke the language of Ashdod (i.e., the language of the New Philistines).


Nevertheless, in none of the encounters of the Israelites with the Philistines is there any mention of the Philistines as an uncultured, boorish, or uncivilized people.  We must therefore agree with the Dothans and reject the German pastor’s meaning when we refer to the Philistines of the Bible.


No one is really sure about the etymology of the term “Philistine.”  The Philistines, according to the Bible, derived from an Egyptian clan or tribe known as the Casluhim, of whom nothing is known at this time.  In the Hebrew, the Philistines are Plstym, pronounced Philisteem; plural of Plsty, pr.  Philistee.  Their land is Philistia, or in Hebrew, Plshth; cf. Ps. 87:4; pr. Pelesheth.


Fourmont and Hitzig derived the name from the Greek Pelasgoi, though it is hard to explain how “g” could be elided and a “t” put in its place.  Gesenius traced it to an Ethiopic word meaning “to wander” but R. Macalister objects to this latter derivation on the basis of the widespread use of the name among the nations of the ancient world.  Such widespread usage could only mean that the name is of Philistine origin.  “Now a word meaning ‘stranger’ or the like, while it might well be applied by foreigners to a nation deemed by them intruders, would scarcely be adopted by the nation itself, as its chosen ethnic appellation.  This Ethiopic comparison it seems therefore safe to reject.” (The Philistines: Their History and Civilization, 1914, p. 3.)


It is possible that the “Cherethites” (Hebrew, crthy; pr. Carithee) of 2 Sam. 8:18, who served as David’s bodyguard (along with Pelethites)), are Cretans or Philistines.  It’s also possible that they might be the Carians living on the Anatolian coast north of Israel.  The Cherethites are closely linked to the Philistines (Ez. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5), but the Carians were much given to mercenary work throughout their history.  Cherethites and Pelethites could be Philistines, but it’s hard to believe David would use the enemies of Israel as his personal bodyguards.  Perhaps, however, he made friends with some Philistines when he sojourned among them, and they would naturally hitch themselves to David’s rising star. 


It does not appear that Cherethites are Cretans since Ezekiel and Zephaniah describe the Cherethites as living along the “sea-coast.”  (Ez. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5.)  On the other hand, if David had met some Cretans during his stay with the Philistines, and if they had become fast friends with him, these may have joined for personal reasons as well, and lived along the seacoast in Israel.


My own conclusion is that Cherethites were Carians, and Pelethites may have been Pylians (from Pylos on the Greek mainland) or perhaps some other people living close to the Carians in Asia Minor.  The reason is that if the Cherethites or Pelethites were Philistines, or even Cretans, why didn’t the biblical writer simply use the term “Philistine” or “Capthorim” to refer to these peoples?  Why invent new terms?  Admittedly, while it doesn’t offer conclusive proof that the Cherethites are Carians, biblical references to the “captains” serving under Jehoiada (e.g., 2 Kings 11:19), use the Hebrew term, Cry (pr. kawree).  This seems to indicate that the Carians were a permanent mercenary force in the kingdom of Israel from the time of David forward, and could very well have been Cherethites.  After all, the Carians became known for their mercenary work, and as an example, we have mention of them by Herodotus, who says that Carians joined with Ionians to become mercenaries serving under Psammetichus (The Histories, Book 2).  In any case, the possible identification of the Cherethites with the Carians is only a point of interest, not a point of dogma.


5.  A Mysterious Homeland


Biblical history does not refer to the land of Crete (biblical Caphtor, Egyptian Keftiu) as the original homeland of the Philistines.  It’s true that the Philistines migrated from Crete (Amos 9:7; Jer. 47:4), but that does not mean it was their original homeland.  According to biblical history, the original homeland of the Philistines was in Egypt:


“Mizraim [i.e., Egypt] begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim).”  (Gen. 10:13-14.)


The Casluhim were probably living on the western side of the Egyptian delta, perhaps close to the Libyans, by the beginning of the fourth dynasty of Egypt.  At some point, they migrated from the land of Egypt to the island of Crete.  The Casluhim who stayed in Crete became known as “Cretans,” while those Casluhim who eventually left Crete to go to the southwest coast of the Holy Land were called “Philistines.”  The following shows the line of descent:


MizraimàCasluhimà(Philistines & Caphtorim)


Obviously, the sacred writer did not have the actual genealogy of this progression, but he still knew which ancestral ethnic group gave rise to successor ethnic groups.  (Note the use of the “im” plural for ethnic groups or nationalities.)  Nevertheless, while ancient Hebrew historians may on their own have known of the migration from Crete, it’s unlikely that they would have preserved the memory of the ancestral Casluhim.  So it seems reasonable to suppose that the sacred compiler of the Table of Nations learned of the Casluhim ancestry of the Philistines from the Philistines themselves.  In any case, the ethnic derivation of the Philistines and Cretans from Egypt should put an end to any speculation that the Philistines could have been a “Greek” people.  There is therefore no need to search for a mysterious “homeland” for the Philistines.  They came from Egypt by way of Crete and settled in the southwest portion of Canaan sometime just before or during the days of Abraham (Egyptian 4th dynasty per New Courville).


The migration of the Philistines evidently involved a small number of the Caphtorim.  After driving out the Avim (Deut. 2:23), the Caphtorim (or Philistines) dwelt in villages as far as Gaza.  They appear to have been small enough to enter into a non-aggression treaty with the clan of Abraham (Gen. 21:22ff.).  Later, the Philistines would envy Isaac for his prosperity (Gen. 26:14), and the Philistine king was fearful enough to say:


“Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.” (Gen. 26:16.)


 The Philistines were not a large force during their initial settlement, nor during the days of the biblical patriarchs.  They did show early signs of hostility to the Israelites by stopping up wells, and once during Joseph’s day, they (the “men of Gath”) killed the sons of Ephraim:


“The sons of Ephraim were Shuthelah, Bered his son, Tahath his son, Eladah his son, Tahath his son, Zabad his son, Shuthelah his son, and Ezer and Elead.  The men of Gath who were born in that land killed them because they came down to take away their cattle.   Then Ephraim their father mourned many days, and his brethren came to comfort him” (I Chr. 7:20-22).


After the Conquest under Joshua, the Philistines were only able to put a force of 600 soldiers in the field.  They were defeated by Judge Shamgar (about the time of Judge Deborah).  They still appear to have been a small people and it’s unlikely that they were large enough to leave a pottery trail that can be distinguished from the pottery of others living in Canaan at the time.


The prophet Amos (9:7) says that the Philistines came from Crete, and Jeremiah describes the Philistines as the “remnant” from Caphtor (47:4), meaning a small portion.  Given the fact that the Philistines were in the Holy Land at the time of Abraham, it is likely that this is a reference to a migration that took place either just before, or during, Abraham’s day.


We do know that the Philistines were in their new homeland by Joshua’s time because in a speech to the Israelites, he refers to the “territory of the Philistines” (Josh. 13:2).  So this, combined with Abraham and Isaac’s dealings with Philistine kings, provides strong support that the migration of the Philistines from Caphtor occurred during the Early Bronze Age (for New Courville), or during the Middle Bronze 1 period (per conventional chronology, which places Abraham in this archaeological phase).  This provides strong evidence against Maspero’s linkage of the Philistine migration with the Sea Peoples’ migration, for the latter would be too late.


Excursus:  First, against those who would reject the identification of Crete with Caphtor, i.e., Keftiu, we would point out that, despite due caution in regards to such identifications, it is a commonplace in mainstream scholarship to identify Keftiu with Crete.  (See, the Dothans, pp. 34-35.)  Second, against those who question whether the Casluhim came from Egypt, we argue that Mizr was the person while Mizraim is the nation of Egypt, as the “im” termination shows.  The Casluhim (people) came from the Mizraim (people) according to Genesis 10:13-14.  Whether or not Mizr himself actually went down to Egypt is not important, though he probably did.  What is important is that his descendants surely lived in Egypt.  That is why the Hebrews referred to Egypt as Mizraim (plural), because that is where the sons of Mizr lived.  At some point, the Philistines came from Caphtor, so the Casluh people must have arrived in Caphtor some time before this.  Yet the important thing to keep in mind is that the biblical writer didn’t say the Casluhim were descendants of Mizr (singular); rather, he said they were descendants of Mizraim (plural), i.e., the nation of Egypt.  While it is possible the Casluhim arrived on Caphtor from the earliest times (even pre-Babel), the fact that the biblical writer derives them from the nation of Egypt argues strongly for the view for a post-Babel migration, and that the Casluhim were an Egyptian people, not just a Mizr-clan that happened to wander to Caphtor and then to the Holy Land, during Abraham’s day.


6.  The Archaeology of Crete


The archaeological record of Crete provides some support to the view that the Casluhim migrated to Crete from Egypt: 


“E[arly] M[inoan] II sees both the beginning and the culmination of the manufacture of stone vases [in Crete]….The workmanship is excellent, particularly in view of the fact that it is a new industry….It has been suggested, and with reason, that the impetus was given by direct contact with Egypt….” (J.D.S. Pendlebury, The Archaeology of Crete: An Introduction, p. 69.)


The Egyptian pottery appears to be the pottery of immigrants from Egypt since none of the pottery appears to be the result of trade: “No actual imports from abroad have yet been found in E.M. II strata, but imitations and resemblances are just as important.” (Ibid. p. 74.)  These Egyptian immigrants may also have had Libyan connections, and brought Libyan customs with them: “The most frequently quoted examples of Egyptian or rather Libyan influence are the primitive statuettes from the Messara [in Crete].” (Idem.)  Ointment pots show especially the relation with Egypt.  These existed throughout the Old Kingdom and provide a “strong argument in favour of considerable Egyptian influence.” (Ibid. p. 75.)


As noted, vases were also important in the correlation with Egypt.  According to Pendlebury: “Our positive chronology, then, is still dependent on Egypt.  We have seen that the stone vases from which the Minoan examples were copied range from the Ist Dynasty until the VIth, with the majority in the IVth to the VIth….” (Idem.)  John L. Caskey said: “The pottery of E.M. II includes grey ware and red-on-white patterned ware….A splendid series of stone vases, inspired undoubtedly by Egyptian prototypes but Minoan in character, is found in Mochlos and elsewhere.” (Cambridge Ancient History, 1:2, p. 802.)  Furthermore: “Sir Arthur Evans saw a parallel between Libyan tholoi and those of the Messara [in Crete].  The stone bowls provide further evidence of contact with Africa, probably in the most prosperous era of the Egyptian Old Kingdom, from the Fourth to the Sixth Dynasties, though objects of this sort obviously might survive over long periods and therefore they rarely furnish exact dates.” (Idem.)


It would be a mistake, however, to think we could trace the migration of the Casluhim from Crete to the southwest coast of Canaan.  As we have noted, the migrating Casluhim do not appear to have been a large group and by the time they had been in Canaan for perhaps a generation, they were probably already using the local “Canaanite” pottery.  From that point on they were simply the Philistines and blended into their new homeland, and are hence no more traceable by pottery than is the family of Abraham.


Other correlations can be found between Crete and Egypt prior to any Sea Peoples invasion.  In the Messara area of Crete, there are seals which greatly resemble seals typical of Egypt’s First Intermediate Period (end of 6th to beginning of 12th dynasty).  (Ibid., p. 91.)  So even on a conventional basis, this could show a Casluhim migration very close to the time in which conventional chronology (Albright) places Abraham.


We agree with Courville, who says,


With the mention in Scripture of Philistines in Palestine from the time of Abraham, the incident of the migration from Caphtor belongs earlier than Abraham.  To correlate the first occupation of the Philistines in Palestine with the migration of the Sea Peoples is thus a gross and obvious misinterpretation of Scripture….If one expects to find evidence of the earliest occupation of the Philistines in Palestine, he should look into the archaeology of Early Bronze, not that just preceding Iron I.” (EP: 2:230.)


Of course, we should point out that this “evidence of the earliest occupation” cannot be the bichrome of the Sea Peoples (or New Philistines in our terminology).  So we hope we won’t hear critics of this theory point to the lack of so-called “Philistine pottery” in Palestine prior to the Iron 1 period.  Such an argument would once again show the triumph of the petitio in the thought world of those who would oppose New Courville’s views on the earliest migration of the Philistines.


On the other hand we do not go as far as Courville in his correlation of the Philistine migration to Early Neolithic I, i.e., to a time before the Dispersion from Babel.  (EP. 2:236.)  As we have argued, the Philistines appear to be a small ethnic group at the time of Abraham and Isaac, and it seems unlikely that they would have remained so small in population if they had arrived in the pre-Babel period.


7.  Pottery Anachronisms


Scholars have boxed themselves into a corner in their thoroughgoing equation of the Philistines with the Sea Peoples (based upon Maspero’s misreading of Ramses 3).  As Courville noted, the Bible says the Philistines arrived from Crete, but the Sea Peoples pottery is hardly Cretan in character:


“The archaeology of Crete…yields most damaging evidence for the view that these invaders and their culture came from Crete….” (EP, 2:226.)


Courville calls attention to the archaeological history of Crete prior to the Sea Peoples invasion and points out that the culture of Crete had collapsed long before the time of the Sea Peoples, and that this culture “underwent a steep decline, so that by 1200 B.C. [on conventional views] the power and culture of Crete was at its nadir, the residual culture being but a crude remnant of its predecessors.” (Idem.)  Moreover, “[I]f the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt at this time came from Crete under these conditions, then how could they suddenly be in full possession of a high level of pottery culture as indicated by the appearance of this new pottery type in southern Palestine?” (Idem.)


Pendlebury also points to the decline of the Minoan culture after the collapse of Knossos:


“The evidence of the pottery confirms that of the architecture.  The Minoan culture continued unbroken but on a lower level.” (Archaeology of Crete, p. 243.)


Evidently, after the great collapse of the Minoan civilization at the time of Late Minoan 2, Crete was absorded into the flourit of the Myceanaean civilization, serving as a vassal to that kingdom until the so-called Dark Age of Greece settled in.  (Ibid., pp. 231; 303.) 


More damaging to the equation of the Philistines with the Sea Peoples is that the pottery represents a variety of Aegean styles rather than Cretan.  Courville says,


“A comparison of this pottery with that of the Aegean area for this and the preceding era leaves no room for doubt on this point.  While this pottery found its way to Cyprus and even to the mainland to the north, its origin may be traced unequivocally to the Aegean Islands and the immediate area.” (EP, 2:227.)


Courville quotes Kenyon as proof of this, but she does not restrict the pottery to the Aegean Islands, as Courville claims.  What she says is that the pottery has its origins in the “Late Helladic ceramic art of the Aegean.” (Idem.)  If it were restricted to the Islands, it would be known as Late Cycladic, not Helladic, the latter being descriptive of the pottery of the Greek mainland.  Nevertheless, the point is well taken.  Courville says,


“But if this pottery is of Aegean origin, and not Cretan then it is most inconsistent to identify the pottery as Philistine on the basis of the Scriptural statements to the effect that the Philistines came from Crete.  And if it is not Philistine, then what basis is there for presuming that this pottery provides any evidence at all that this is the date for the first appearance of the Philistines in Palestine?” (EP, 2:228.)


Indeed, that is the question.  Courville concludes,


“The [Sea Peoples] were a conglomerate of peoples caught up in a migratory movement who had one aim in common, i.e., that of finding a new place to live.  Furthermore, it is not at all improbable that the Philistines who did take part in the invasion were from a previous occupation in southern Palestine.” (Idem.)


We agree.  According to the Dothans, so-called “Philistine” pottery is made up of “eighteen distinct vessel types and four separate artistic influences.” (POTS, p. 91.)  The four sources are Mycenaean, Egyptian, Cypriot, and Canaanite.  No mention of Minoan.


8.  Religious Anachronisms: Dagon or Ashdoda?


Besides the pottery contradiction, there is another problem that arises in the attempt to equate the Philistines with the Aegean or Greek seafarers.  According to the Bible, the Philistines worshiped a male god named “Dagon.” (Judg. 16:23.)  On the other hand, archaeological investigations of the Sea Peoples shows that they—like the Mycenaeans—worshipped a female deity, represented by the female terracotta figurines called “Ashdoda.”  The Dothans say,


“This [pendant], then, was an example of the image of a deity worshiped at Ashdod at the time of the Philistines’ initial [sic] settlement, and it was a figurine whose unique form and decoration reflected the adaptation of Aegean traditions in a Near Eastern milieu.” (Dothans, POTS, p. 154; 156.)


Here again we see the claim made for an Aegean origin for Philistine customs, etc., but as we have seen, this is ultimately based on Maspero’s claim that the Philistines first arrived in Canaan during the Iron 1 period.  We have no grounds therefore to reject the biblical statements that the Philistines worshipped a male god by the name of Dagon.  The “Ashdoda” figurines merely show the type of anachronism that results when a faulty chronology is applied to the history of ancient peoples.


9.  Linear A


The Philistines are, by conventional chronology, given an Aegean or even Greek origin, so it would seem that tracing them back to their Cretan origins would entail that the Cretans were also an Aegean or Greek people.  So the earliest language of the Minoans—Linear A–should have been Greek.  Nevertheless, this is not the case:


“There is undoubtedly a close relationship between Linear A and Linear B, but it is not a clear one….We can, however, be definite that the language behind Linear A is not Greek.” (Andrew Robinson, The Story of Writing, p. 149.)


The more famous script, Linear B, is a form of archaic Greek given in terms of the Minoan syllabary of Linear A, and it was deciphered by Michael Ventris in the mid-20th century.  Linear A, however, is still a mystery, though some have speculated it is related to Luwian (Hittite), or to some Semitic language.  (C. H. Gordon, Forgotten Scripts, p. 140.)  Bennett suggested long ago that Linear A was Egyptian.  (Cf., T. B. L. Webster, From Mycenae to Homer, p. 8.)


If we are right in our derivation of the Cretans and Philistines from Egypt (biblical Mizraim), then it’s possible and even likely that the earlier Minoan language is a variant of Old Kingdom Egyptian.  The fly in the ointment is that the Cretans and Philistines did not descend directly from the Egyptians, but by means of the Casluhim.  We don’t know how “Egyptian” this latter ethnic group might have been.  If the Casluhim were living in the region of the western delta of the Nile, they might have been influenced by the Libyans as much as by the Egyptians.  In that case, the language would not be pure Egyptian.  Moreover, even assuming the language of the Casluhim was pure Egyptian, once they arrived in Crete, their version of Egyptian would become isolated from the main Egyptian language, and would develop on its own, much like French, Spanish, and Italian have developed on their own from their parent language, Latin.


Despite these problems, it should still be possible to recognize signs of derivation.  For instance, French- and Spanish-speaking peoples cannot understand one another, but they can surely recognize linguistic affinities between their languages.  Unfortunately, scholars have misunderstood the nature of the Philistine settlement in the Holy Land, and therefore have not understood the settlement of Crete by the ancestors of the Cretans and Philistines—the Casluhim–and thus they appear to have neglected the Egyptian connection.


In our opinion, Crete was essentially an Egyptian colony, so it’s not surprising that later Minoan culture would show the influence of Egyptian art and culture.  For instance, the famous Minoan bull cult may simply be a derivative of the Egyptian Apis bull cult.


J. Pendlebury’s book, The Archaeology of Crete, provides an illustration of the relation between Minoan and Egyptian symbols (cf., p. 141), and shows that despite the independence of the Minoan and Egyptian symbol systems, the Minoan hieroglyphs of the Middle Minoan 2 period are very similar to Egyptian hieroglyphs:


“A few of the signs are so close to the Egyptian that they must almost certainly have been borrowed, though on the whole the Minoan syllabary is remarkably independent.” (Idem.)


Pendlebury has doubts about the relation of Egyptian to Minoan ( p. 270), but given the history of the Egyptian Casluhim as recorded in the Bible, it seems to us that Linear A is a symbol system for writing an ancient version of Egyptian.  It may not be the same Egyptian as spoken in the Egypt of the Middle or Late Bronze Age, to be sure, but at least it’s a language that is derivable from an earlier and more ancient form of Egyptian.


A possibility exists, however, that the initial Egyptian of the Casluhim could not compete with the earlier possibly Indo-European language of the natives of Crete, and that Linear A represents a language that is more “paleo-Cretan” than Egyptian.  This could have happened if the children of the Casluhim learned the native language of Crete, and only learned some Egyptian in order to communicate with their parents.  But eventually, the native language would swamp the foreign Egyptian language.  A similar situation exists today in the southwestern United States, where immigrants from Latin American countries retain their old language, but their children learn English, and can barely speak Spanish themselves.


The question whether Linear A represents an Egyptian or a paleo-Cretan language would make for a fascinating study, and it is hoped that students of Egyptian, Greek, or “Semitic” languages, would test these theories out.  Already, Cyrus Gordon thinks Linear A was a “Semitic” language, and Bennett thought it might be Egyptian.  So let us hope that a better understanding of the history of Crete might result in better progress toward its decipherment.


10.  Mycenaean Influences


The Maspero theory–that the Philistines first showed up in the Holy Land at the time of the Sea Peoples’ invasion–has led conventional chronology to favor the view that the Philistines were a Mycenaean people.  Some go even farther:


“The great similarity between Mycenaean IIIC1b in Philistia and that in Cyprus, and its appearance in both areas in large quantities, imply settlements of migrants with common origins.  In Cyprus, scholars denote these peoples ‘Achaeans,’ referring to Mycenaean refugees; in Philistia, the producers of Mycenaean IIIC pottery must be identified as Philistines.  The logical conclusion, therefore, is that the Philistines were a group of Mycenaean Greeks who immigrated to the east, clashed with the Egyptians in the eighth regnal year of Ramesses III, and later inhabited Philistia.”  (Amihai Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, pp. 307-08.)


Even if we were to accept Maspero’s theory, we would find it difficult to accept Mazar’s theory that the Philistines were “Mycenaean Greeks.”  The Bible states that the Philistines migrated from Crete, and that they came from Egyptian stock through the Casluhim.  The Greek derivation is thus wrong, or at least fairly adventurous, even on a conventional chronology basis.


New Courville had formerly accepted the view that the Philistines were at least Mycenaean in culture, if not Greek in ethnicity.  However, there may be good reason to reject both notions.  The following are the presumed correlations between the Philistines and Mycenaean culture:




a.  Achish, king of Gath

Trojan prince Anchises

b.  Philistine title Seren

Greek tyrannos

c.  Philistine “inter-urban” confederacy

city-state league

d.  Samson & Delilah/shorn hair

story of King Nisus, similarly betrayed

e.  Goliath (Oliat)

Alyattes, founder of Lydian empire

f.  armor of Goliath

    1.  iron-pointed spear

    2.  bronze greaves

    3.  helmet

    4.  javelin

    5.  carrying weapons between shoulders

Greek epic armor

g.  taking of Samson’s wife

capture of Helen

h.  David/Goliath, single combat

similarly, Hector/Achilles, et al.



This would seem to be an impressive list, and since the Dothans don’t dismiss some of these, we cannot dismiss them out of hand, either.  We must observe, however, that no single correlation is conclusive in itself, and even the cumulative effect is not altogether convincing.  After all, the Mycenaean pottery is not confined to the southwest coast of the Holy Land, the traditional homeland of the Philistines.  Rather, it is found throughout Palestine, and in other countries as well, i.e., Sicily, Rhodes, Cyprus, and Egypt.  (Dothans, p. 30.)  Indeed, Flinders Petrie found Mycenaean pottery in the Fayum district of Middle Egypt datable from Thutmose 3 to Ramses 3, suggesting a long stretch of contact between Egypt and Mycenaean culture.  (Ibid. p. 30; cf., p. 61.)  This is not usually taken to mean that the Egyptians were a Mycenaean people.


Moreover, the term seren–often mentioned as showing a Mycenaean and Philistine correlation—was traced by Petrie long ago to the Egyptian word ser, meaning a district ruler (Middle Kingdom usage, Ibid., 67).  With regard to the detention or capture of Helen and Samson’s wife, all we need point out is that the Mycenaeans were not the only ones who kidnapped wives.  We find in the Bible that the Egyptian pharaoh attempted to kidnap the wife of Abraham, so this practice is not unique to any culture.  Moreover, the Philistines at the time of Isaac appeared to respect the rights of marriage.  When Abimelech, a Philistine king, saw through Isaac's lie that she was his sister, he commanded his people not to touch her. (Gen. 26:11.)  This actually shows that the Philistines early on were hostile to the idea of kidnapping another man's wife.  This is a point of dissimilarity between the Philistines and the Mycenaeans.


The correlation between the names Achish and Anchises, Goliath and Alyattes, is a bit stronger, but how much can one infer from such name comparisons?  Similarly, how much can one infer from the other supposed correlations—the notion of single combat or inter-urban confederacy?  At best these can only be suggestive or complementary evidence, not conclusive evidence


Additionally, anthropoid coffins found at Beth-Shean show heavy Egyptian influence (wigs, etc.) along with Mycenaean influence, and the later “grotesque” coffins also show Egyptian influence, i.e., the “Osiris” beard.  (Ibid., pp. 59, 70.)  Even some of the so-called “Philistine” bichrome—our “New Philistine” ware–shows “jugs in the Egyptian tradition.”  (Ibid., p. 71.)


Excursus: Against those who claim that the anthropoid coffins are coffins of the “Canaanites.”  Mazar regards the anthropoid coffins as pointing to “Egyptian presence” in Palestine in the Late Bronze Age. (Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, p. 283.)  They were: “most probably [burials of] Egyptian officials and army officers.” (Ibid., p. 285.)  He ascribes the other non-coffin burials, i.e., the “poor graves” to the “Canaanites.” (Idem.)  Mazar relates “grotesque” style to Sea Peoples mercenaries serving with the Egyptian army. (Ibid, p. 327.)  Albright relates the coffins to the existence of “Egyptian military garrisons.” (Dothans, p. 70.)  “Albright pointed to a distinction what had never been noticed before: the ‘naturalistic’ coffins from Beth Shean, with their heavy Egyptian-style wigs and lotus decorations, were associated with the imported Mycenaean pottery and were clearly the earliest in the series....On the other hand, the ‘grotesque’ coffins...found together with later Philistine and local pottery bore Egyptian attributes such as the Osiris beard and hands resting on the chest....” (Dothans, p. 72.)  The grotesque coffins found at Beth Shean and Tell el-Farah showed clear indications of the ancient tomb tradition of Egypt. (Dothans, p. 72.) The earlier naturalistic style were associated with Mycenaean pottery, while the grotesque style was associated with “later Philistine and local pottery” and “bore Egyptian attributes.” (Idem.)  Thus the “grotesque” style is regarded as the style of the Sea Peoples, not of the so-called Canaanites.


The evidence is therefore inconclusive and cannot determine the question of whether Philistines were Mycenaean in culture or Egyptian in culture, or developed on their own independently.  Our view is the latter, that the Philistines retained their ethnic identity throughout their history, but received heavy influence from external sources.  However, we do not regard these external cultural influences from the Aegean or from Egypt as swamping the Philistine ethnic identity.  We cannot prove this conclusively, but at the same time the conventional view—and certainly not Mazar’s view—cannot be left unchallenged.


Note: As we pointed out above, some scholars attempt to prove that the Philistines were Mycenaeans by citing the pottery of the Sea Peoples.  We agree that the so-called “Philistine pottery” was Mycenaean, but it’s simply begging the question to equate this Aegean pottery with the pottery of the Philistines.  Such an equation would, of course, assume Maspero’s thesis, that the Philistines first arrived in the Holy Land at the time of the Sea Peoples’ invasion, and we find such a theory groundless.


11.  The Sea Peoples & Politics


Who were the Sea Peoples?  Why did they take part in an invasion of the coastal regions of Anatolia and the Holy Land?  Why did they invade Egypt?


Our view is that the Sea Peoples were the last Mycenaeans, the last of what might be called the “Homeric” heroes.  We do not mean that they were the heroes of the Trojan war.  What we mean is that the Sea Peoples were attempting to achieve the same glory that their forefathers had obtained in the attack and capture of Troy.  Undoubtedly, poets would have praised the Sea Peoples and their leader in a later day, but for one fact—Ramses 3 defeated them when they attempted to invade his country.  There was then no victory and no heroes to receive the praise of poets.


Indeed, it’s my belief that what the Trojans could not do, Ramses 3 did.  He stopped the last Mycenaeans in their tracks, and resettled the captives in the land of Canaan.  This was somewhat similar to what happened to the Muslims when they attempted to invade the West but were stopped in their tracks by Leo III of the Byzantine empire (717 A.D.), and by Charles Martel, king of the Franks, at Tours (733 A.D.).  The Muslims settled down and enjoyed a brief “Islamic renaissance” as did the Franks under Charles’ grandson, Charlemagne, i.e., the “Carolingian renaissance.”  However, the Sea Peoples were forcibly resettled in the lands of their confederates, the Philistines, rather than returned to their homelands.  There are no indications of a “Mycenaean renaissance” after this point.  Indeed, the Sea Peoples truly were the “last Mycenaeans.”


The Sea Peoples invasion was, then, on our hypothesis, an attempt to gain national unity after the collapse of the Mycenaean centers (probably brought down by terrible and distressingly persistent seismic events).  A last ditch attempt to preserve the political unity of Mycenaean civilization through the old standbys of piracy and conquest ended in disaster in Egypt.


This will lead us to a discussion of the history of Greece from the Trojan War to the Return of the Heraclids, and then to a discussion of the so-called Dark Age of Greece.