"Museo dei dolmen" (Dolmen Museum) is a virtual museum of Mediterranean and Western Europe prehistory and early history, set up and directed by Federico Bardanzellu.


Dolmen Museum     


Prehistory and Early History of the Mediterranean and Western Europe


Museo dei Dolmen


Movement of peoples in Mediterranean Sea between Bronze and Iron Age


1. Sea Peoples, who were they?

Merneptah Stele (1200 B.C.)

Lybian warrior (Meshwesh)

Suppiliuluma II

Medinhet Habu



In the Late Bronze Age (XIII century BC.) the archaeological documents record significant population shifts from the Aegean-Anatolian area towards the Syro-Palestinian corridor. These people are commonly referred by the historians as the "Sea Peoples", since the beginning of the last century.

  The main written documents that show that the migratory phenomenon are: 1) the large hieroglyphic inscription at Karnak (Luxor, Egypt), written at the time of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah ( 1224-1214 or 1213-1203 BC); its content is also confirmed in a stele (the "Merneptah Stele") found near it; 2) some tablets written in the Akkadian language on the comparability of Hammurabi III (1195-1190), the last king of Ugarit (Ras Shamra, Syria) that were found in his private archive and 3) the hieroglyphic inscriptions of the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramses III (1193-1155) at Medinhet Habu. The Trojan War, according to the historian Eratosthenes of Cyrene, took place between 1193 and 1183 BC and the so-called "return of the Heraclides ", ie the Dorian invasion of the Peloponnese, Crete and some Aegean islands, eighty years later (1104 BC).



  Archaeologically, the penetration to the Near East Aegean-Anatolian area seems documented by the appearance of ceramic type Late Helladic III C 1 b. In the hieroglyphic inscriptions, the people in question have difficult deciphering names.  Hieroglyph, in fact, omits the transcription of the vowel sounds. This makes difficult to read its exact words .

  The large inscription at Karnak describes the attack to Egypt in the 5th year of the reign of Merneptah (1220 or 1209 BC) by a coalition led by the Libyan king Meryey including, in addition to the Libyans (Lubu) and their allies Meshwesh (perhaps Nubian  or otherwise African), even the "peoples of the North": Teresh, Ekwesh, Lukka, Shardanas and Shekelesh. The attack took place almost simultaneously to a Canaanite rebellion, in the towns of Gaza, Askhelon and Yenoam, and  even - it seems -an Israelite one.

  The inscription go on, stating that the invaders, taking with them their wives and children, were able to occupy for a few months a territory located south of El Fayyum .



The decisive battle , however, saw a victory of the Egyptian army and was fought in the unidentified resort of Pi-yer. Merneptah states that he defeated the invaders, killing 6,000 soldiers and taking 9,000 prisoners.

  To be sure of the numbers, it was provided to cut off all the uncircumcised penis from the dead bodies and the hands of all the circumcised ones; among the latter, they were certainly counted the Ekwesh, Shekelesh and Shardanas, and this attests at least their cultural proximity to Semitic populations if not a territorial contiguity.

  The most indicative steps of the Ugarit correspondence, dated 1190 BC, are:

a) the report of the Cyprus ruler concerning the presence of an enemy fleet and the suggestion to the king of Ugarit to set up defenses. This stranger sovereign had been set up in Cyprus a few years ago by the Hittite king Suppiliuluma II, which was handed down a victory on the Cyprus fleet, around 1200 BC, using - probably - the ships of Ugarit .

b ) the dramatic communication of the Hittite king Suppiliuluma II (1200-1182 BC), which attests his defeat in the face of an undentified enemy and the devastation of his country;

c ) the response of Hammurabi III to the Cyprus ruler, in which, after having justified that he had to send his troops and his ships to Lycia (probably to defend the land of the Hittites, being their vassal), announces that the enemy attack had already started and do not have the means to reject it. This note will never be sent by impossibility. Another tablet posting in Karnak indicates the name of the people that threatened Ugarit: the Shekelesh (Sikalayu).



The Ugarit correspondence shows that, circa 1190, all Anatolia was on fire and devastation had reached the Syrian coast. The inscriptions at Medinhet Habu, in fact, indicate that, a few years later, foreign populations had completely destroyed and pillaged Lycia (Arzawa), the land of the Hittites (Hatti), Cyprus, Cilicia, the city-state of Carchemish (on the Turkish Syrian boundaries) and directly threatened Egypt.

  The attack was carried out in the 8th year of the reign of Ramses III (1186 BC) by an alliance of five people close to the land of the Amorites (Syria): in addition to Shekelesh they appear Pheleset, Tjeker,  Weshesh and Denyen, following with their women, children and household goods. Also in this case the Egyptians repelled the invaders to Djahy, a town in the land of Canaan.

  The war, however, was not ended, as the attackers launched a new attack by sea, which was attended by Tueresh and Shardanas "of the sea", supported by land by Lubu and Meshesh. Egypt was forced to engage a fierce battle, which ended again with a victory  in the Nile delta.


2. Iconography of the warriors > Read more

3. The Bronze Age collapse > Read more

4. Origin area of the Sea Peoples > Read more

5. Sea Peoples in the Syro-Palestinian Levant > Read more

6. Doric invasion in Greece > Read more

7. Sea Peoples in Sardinia and Corsica > Read more

8. Sea Peoples in Sicily and the Italian peninsula > Read more

9. The Iron Age > Read more

10. Phoenicians beyond Melqart Pillars > Read more

Credits - Text by  Federico Bardanzellu  2013      facebook