In 1878, archaeologists discovered a stone slab covered with ancient symbols in modern Turkey. The 29-meter-long bears the longest known hieroglyphic inscription from the Bronze Age. It is a Luwian hieroglyphic inscription and only a handful of scholars have been able to decipher it.
This enigmatic stone describes the events at the end of the Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean and sheds new light on one of the greatest puzzles of Mediterranean archaeology.
Although many theories have been presented there is little solid information about the mysterious Sea People.
Their nationality remains a mystery as the only records we have of their activities are mainly Egyptian sources who only describe them in terms of battle (such as the record from the Stele at Tanis which reads, in part, “They came from the sea in their war ships and none could stand against them”).
The term ‘Sea Peoples’ refer to nine groups of people, but the historical inscriptions give indications only to three of them, namely, the Sherden, Shekelesh, and Eqwesh.
The first translation of the Luwian hieroglyphic inscription has offered an explanation for the collapse of the Bronze Age’s powerful and advanced civilizations.
The inscription and a summary of its contents also appear in a book by Eberhard Zangger that is being published in Germany today: Die Luwier und der Trojanische Krieg – Eine Forschungsgeschichte.
The script tells how a united fleet of kingdoms from western Asia Minor raided coastal cities on the eastern Mediterranean.
It suggests they were part of a marauding seafaring confederation, which historians believe played a part in the collapse of those nascent Bronze Age civilizations.
Researchers believe the inscriptions were commissioned in 1190 BC by Kupanta-Kurunta, the king of a late Bronze Age state known as Mira.
The text suggests the kingdom and other Anatolian states invaded ancient Egypt and other regions of the east Mediterranean before and during the fall of the Bronze Age. When Kupanta-Kurunta had reinforced his realm, just before 1190 BC, he ordered his armies to storm toward the east against the vassal states of the Hittites.
After successful conquests on land, the united forces of western Asia Minor also formed a fleet and invaded a number of coastal cities (whose names are given) in the south and southeast of Asia Minor, as well as in Syria and Palestine. Four great princes commanded the naval forces, among them Muksus from the Troad, the region of ancient Troy. The Luwians from western Asia Minor advanced all the way to the borders of Egypt, and even built a fortress at Ashkelon in southern Palestine.
According to this inscription, the Luwians from western Asia Minor contributed decisively to the so-called Sea Peoples’ invasions – and thus to the end of the Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean.