Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

Poseidon, god of the Mediterranean Sea

Poseidon’s Wrath - The Scourge of the Sea Peoples

Perhaps 3 000 years from now archaeologists will be debating the reasons for the diaspora that occurred in the lands around the Mediterranean Sea during the early 21st century. What would have accounted for the mass migration of foreigners from the near Middle East and Africa to far northern European countries, they might ask?  Would they know about the brutal civil war in Syria causing families to hastily flee with the few possessions they could carry; would they find some of the remnants of 100s of rubber dinghies that littered the shores of Rhodes? Would they consider famine and political-religious conflict in Africa causing families to hand over their life savings in desperation to pirates for sea passage? Would they find some artifacts such as a plastic doll, the last sentimental keepsake of a child that drowned in the perilous sea? About 3 000 years ago, a similar situation occurred when Poseidon in a bout of anger stirred the Mediterranean basin and today we still speculate as to the origins of the so-called Sea Peoples.

Reconstruction of a part of the Hittite city wall, Lower City of Hattusa, Turkey (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Late Bronze Age

The Late Bronze Age was a marked prosperous era.  One only has to visit the enormous palace-temple complex at Knossos (Crete), the fortified royal settlement at Mycenae (Greek Peloponnese), the magnificent Hittite capital of Hattusa (northern Turkey);  the bustling near-eastern Mediterranean sea ports of Ugarit, (Syria)  Byblos, Sidon and Tyre (Lebanon);  the wealthy Mesopotamian cities located on the fertile banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, such as Nippur, Ur, Lagash and Babylon; (Iran and Iraq); down to  the royal residences of Memphis, Akhentaten and Thebes along the Nile (Egypt), to realize they all flourished and benefitted from trade.  Hugging Poseidon’s Mediterranean coastline merchant ships traded in tin from what is today England, copper from Cyprus, Turkey and the fertile crescent, glass, cedar and incense from the Levant, lapis from north of the Indus valley, gold from Egypt and ivory from Africa. But wealth breeds envy, which leads to war and Ares challenged Poseidon’s supremacy.

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