Les Pueples De La Mer M?diterran?e Essay, Research Paper
Michael Woods brings up an interesting mystery of the ancient world that puzzles learned people of modern times. Although Wood strongly suggests that the “Sea Peoples” were a result of mass migrations, recent research has disproved many of the theories upon which Wood based his opinions. There is evidence to show that the “Sea Peoples” were not a product of mass migrations.
The Trojan War, much like the “Sea Peoples” remains a mystery. Many theories have been developed to explain its occurrence. According to Homer’s The Iliad, the Trojan War was waged over the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. The accepted explanation in modern times is the city was pillaged either for its wealth or to put an end to their control over the Dardanelles. Not much is known about the war, except for the accounts in The Iliad, which may be fictitious. The war was said to be a ten-year siege on Troy at the hands of the Achaeans, who eventually became the victors.
Many archaeologists have ventured to the Dardanelles in search of the long-lost city of Troy, which is believed to be on the site of hissarlik. Heinrich Schliemann was credited with some of the most contributive discoveries as to the location of the city, yet he was also guilty of rewriting history to fit those discoveries. He destroyed numerous artifacts because of his primitive archaeological techniques. Many more archaeologists followed in his footsteps hoping to be the one to discover Troy. In the series, “In Search of the Trojan War” Michael Woods attempts to explain many of the mysteries surrounding Troy.
One of those mysteries, are the “Sea Peoples”. The “Sea Peoples” were invaders who swept over Asia Minor and Syria near the end of the twelfth century BC. They destroyed the Hittite Kingdom around this time. The first written record of the “Sea Peoples” was in the tablets of Ramses III at Medinet Habu. These tablets were a written chronicle of his war victories.
Most knowledge about the “Sea Peoples” comes from these tablets. The term “Sea Peoples” was coined by an error according to Christopher Robbins. He writes that a French scholar named Gaston Maspero shortened the term to “peuples de la mer” in 1870 from “les peuples de la mer mediterranee”. This phrase now misleads people to believe that the “Sea Peoples” lived on the sea or on islands, when in fact all people living near the Mediterranean Sea are referred to as “Mediterranean”. Robbins states that this mistake was due to Maspero’s misinterpretation of the inscriptions at Medinet Habu. Maspero concluded that the “Sea Peoples” were a result of mass migrations (V?lkerwanderungen) that came by both land and sea. Michael Woods stated in, In Search of the Trojan War episode 6 that, “Greek tradition and archaeology show that
there were migrations of Greek speaking people to these same places at this time” (219). This supports Gaston Maspero’s belief that the “Sea Peoples” were a product of migrations, because it sets the time-period. He then declares on page 218 of In Search of the Trojan War that, “…some of the peoples of the sea were migrants, many were demonstrably traditional pirates.” The mass migration hypothesis was accepted because no other sensible solution was available and so it became the accepted explanation. Immanuel Velikovsky writes “A modern scholar expressed this very view at her conviction that these armies were a well-organized state and not migrating hordes uprooted from their domicile”(120). He is referring to their skill in war, a group of wandering migrates would not be able to destroy the Hittite Kingdom and bring about a Dark Age, without sufficient training.
Considerable new evidence has been discovered that shows this theory is unreasonable. Woods never mentions any of this information or anything in opposition to his own beliefs, but allows viewers to see testimony from those in sync with his own ideas.
Immanuel Velikovsky, author of Peoples of the Sea, asserts that, “…Ramses the III lived 800 years later; that the events in question took place in the first part of the fourth century before the present era; and that the Peoples of the Sea were Greek mercenaries and the Pereset were Persians” (225). He supports this statement when he writes, “The helmet, the tunics, the corselets, the swords, the targets, the spears are those of Greek mercenaries in Persian service in the fourth century”(56). If this is true, then they can not be the “Sea Peoples” Maspero and Woods are describing. Here is another conflict in the “Sea Peoples” theory that Woods fails to mention. Velikovsky
gives evidence on page fifty-five, when he writes that, the peoples of the sea, like the Perset were beardless. The Homeric heroes were bearded with the exception of Achilles;
Therefore, they must be from an earlier time-period than believed. The Greeks of the fourth and fifth century shaved their faces. The final opinion Wood overlooked is that the “Sea Peoples” maybe a conglomeration of tribes or a confederation of nations.
Woods provided the viewer with sufficient information to maintain his hypothesis but failed to represent those in contrast that also have adequate evidence. Woods based his research on Homer’s The Iliad, a book that has not been proven completely factual. It is based on the war, but it is unknown the number of embellishments placed upon the events contained. The Iliad must be based on oral tradition because during the Dark Age, a time during which no literary works were produced. Bards told this story to entertain aristocracy, it was finally written down after the Dark Age had ceased. Whether the Iliad is a true story, may never be known, much like the mystery of the peoples of the sea.
Homer. The Iliad. W.H.D. Rouse. New York: Signet Classics, 1999.
In Search of the Trojan War. Bill Lyons. Michael Woods. British Broadcasting Corporation, 1985.
Robbins, Christopher. E-mail interview. 18 September 2000.
Velikovsky, Immanuel. Peoples of the Sea. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1977.
Woods, Michael. In Search of the Trojan War. New York: Facts on File, 1985