(09f) Update on the Third Age of humans or Bronze Age

A few days ago I saw a BBC documentary, i.e. "Atlantis: the evidence". It describes the past existence of the island Thera, now known as Santorini, with the settlement Akrotiri which may have been (part of) Atlantis.

View the island on a map and it becomes clear it was ones a round island while now only some parts are left. Indeed, around 1600 BC one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded by humans took place with tsunamis devastating locally large areas while even Ireland was effected because of ash and worldwide temperatures dropped. The remains of the city were covered with metres of ashes. The tsunamis were huge and one can imaging they devastated large areas such as the Minoan civilisation on Crete that was on the path of the tsunamis and as a consequence this society collapsed. But waves also reached the mainland, including Greece and as Athens is not too far from the sea the earthquakes and tsunamis may have temporarily stopped Athens civilisation, as described by Plato.

It seems there is also evidence that a boy of about 17 was sacrificed, probably in the hope it would stop the anger of the Gods. But it seems there is also evidence of the death of the murderer outside the house and the documentary explains that probably an earthquake caused the collapse of the house, killing the priest (time 49:50-51:25 in film). But maybe we should consider the Greek myth about king Lycaon sacrificing his son in the hope the earthquakes would stop while the story mentions it even further angered the gods because no human sacrifices should be made.

The eruption probably also caused civil unrest in Egypt and heavy rainstorms (although some dismiss these as a metaphor for chaos) but Crete may have protected Egypt from tsunamis and thus little is found in Egyptian stories as damage was limited. However, maybe this is when we have the story of Moses. Maybe it is possible slaves freed themselves during the chaos and fled the country towards the east while the large volcanic eruption may have caused light during the nights as described.

And the story of Noah as I mentioned? Well, that probably happened much earlier.

And so we see stories were first maintained orally, then written down by people such as Plato as memories of the events started to fade. Later people described the stories as myths with no real historical value and finally today the percentage of people compared with the total population reading these stories further decreases. Until we start to discover these events may actually have happened and the full story emerges when all stories are put together.

Update 10/03/2013

I may have made my above conclusion concerning Moses too quickly as I discovered after watching the documentary "Secrets of the Aegean Apocalypse". This documentary shows the events as they may have happened about 400 years after the events described in the above-mentioned documentary "Atlantis: the evidence". In fact it describes the Fourth Age of humans, the Heroic Age. It marked the collapse of a number of societies (i.e. Troy) as well as the weakening of the Egyptian Empire although it continued to exist.

As I described in my previous article, the Fourth Age was another period of war and civilisations collapsed. The documentary describes a number of events may have triggered these wars, including droughts and series of earthquakes but maybe also infighting within ruling families, weakening societies. When then indeed an aggressive army attacks and kills indiscriminately, then powerful societies can collapse. Today it is accepted that around 1200-1150 BC the Bronze Age came to an end (thus not at the end of the Third (Bronze) Age). The attacking army is known thanks to the Egyptians as the "Sea and Land People".

Concerning the Greek, to avoid being slaughtered, people in Crete (and maybe elsewhere) moved to higher grounds where they could not be attacked. As the elite was killed during warfare, scripture was lost and the dark ages started until around 800 BC when Greece arose again (Iron Age) and gave us democracy. As I argue in my previous article, maybe some of these Sea People were leftovers from those from Atlantis, wandering the region looking for a new home as I read that the first mention of these people was about 400 years earlier, around the time of the eruption of Thera. But it is also possible people came from everywhere, maybe encouraged by the wandering people from Atlantis. Indeed, if people from a region with drought and earthquakes beg for food that is refused by other empires or even their own rulers, then maybe people may have turned against those empires or their rulers, claiming in those days they were no longer wanted by the gods who caused disasters.

Thus, I may be wrong concerning the Israelites in Egypt. Maybe the Israelites moved to Egypt around the time of the eruption of Thera when as a result climate changed drastically worldwide and the Egyptians welcomed them, even when they had problems themselves (the bible mentions Joseph advised the Pharaoh what to do to prevent total disaster as now scientists advice politicians who can then accept or refuse the advice given). It may be the time when Joseph lived in Egypt while his brothers, father and relatives are forced to flee to Egypt because of a severe drought in that part of the world. Then, about 400 years later, other problems arose (plaques of Egypt), again leading to social unrest and people freeing themselves as this time the king was not prepared to feed his people but feared them and thus ordered their killing. Still, he could unite some of his people against the attacks from the Sea and Land People because those people were worse than drought. I understand it is not known what happened to the remaining Sea and Land People. Did they settle in the region? Or after being defeated did they leave the region to settle somewhere else? Or maybe people stopped revolting as quality of life improved again.

And probably extreme weather occurred. The Greek story of Troy mentions that the Greek couldn't leave to attack Troy because there was no wind and thus the main king of the Greek, king Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter after which the wind returned (although it seems other versions mention he didn't kill her). Still, wind or no wind, people started killing, even their own family, and thus certainly others. It is said that gods decided there were too many people and their number had to be reduced. But stories are written down by humans who have their own interpretations and one can also interpret this in another way: if gods exists and are good, then they may have tried to prevent humans killing each other and thus stopped the wind so they could think again about going to war. But as humans started sacrificing their own children, war could as well start as people would die anyway. It is how one interprets signs. Although can one accept people kidnap (i.e. Helen) unpunished? Thus it seems around this time there were moments without wind and sweltering heat, making people angry.

Also the bible describes plaques without them being permanent, revolts from slaves against their masters and mass immigration from one region to settle decades later in a region where societies had collapsed and thus space was available. The bible describes the Israelites were enslaved for 400 years in Egypt, the time period between the eruption of the Thera and the fall of the ancient civilisations. This period is long enough to increase in number, certainly when treated well. Thus, maybe people from the region now known as Israel and Jordan went to Egypt for help they received. Hundreds of years later, the Pharaoh started panicking when he noticed one civilisation after another collapsed due to angry (male) crowds and maybe that is the reason why he ordered the killing of the boys (not girls) of slaves from foreign origin, forgotten they helped Egypt during a drought 400 years earlier. As a result, due to bad living conditions and bad treatment, slaves revolted and thus indeed the Pharaoh had reasons to fear them, maybe calling them Sea and Land People. Finally, maybe the Pharaoh let the people go as they caused more troubles than advantages. Maybe he fought them along a river or sea and many died after which the Egyptians and Jews described the events as they experienced them. Indeed, for one it was liberation and thus natural disasters brought freedom while for the Pharaoh could claim he removed the troublemakers out of the country and thus peace returned.

Still, it is quite an irony of history: the Bible tells of the story of Joseph. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and as a consequence ended up in Egypt. After explaining a terrible dream to the Pharaoh and predicting the future drought, he came the second most important person in the kingdom. Before the drought, he ordered a fifth of the crops to be taken as a reserve for the time of famine (Gen. 41:33-36) so people could be fed. Thus, although it was in fact their food, they had to sell all their belongings, including themselves, to the Pharaoh in payment before receiving help (Gen. 47:16-25). In this way the Pharaoh became very wealthy while all his subject, including the Israelites (but not the priests) became slaves. Then 400 years later, his descendants were badly treated in slavery themselves. Turn people into slaves and the boomerang may return. Still, after leaving Egypt their god had to tell them how to threat slaves, showing that although they didn't like to be treated badly they themselves didn't mind enslaving others.

In conclusion, from stories but also archaeological evidence it seems that between 1600 and 1100 BC a large region around the Mediterranean Sea was very unstable: earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and climate change leading to weakened societies. Then the attacks of foreign invaders (or maybe revolts from ordinary people against their rulers) resulted in the collapse of a number of societies but also to the rise of other societies and cultures, including monotheism. Still, it will be interesting when archaeology will reveal more details and we will be able to pinpoint more precisely what happened when. As I can't be sure, I leave both interpretations while people working in the field may add many corrections. I only wrote this as a storyteller, not as an archaeologist or priest.

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