Who were the People Of The Sea?

The People Of The Sea were running around the Mediterranean and Europe (and almost into Egypt) during one of the periodic Dark Ages when it gets ‘a bit of cold’ in Europe and droughty in the Levant. We don’t know very much about them at all. Mostly that they overwhelmed various (weakened?) civilizations and were a motley crew with mixed equipment.

The mixed equipment types has been argued to mean they were a confederation of states, or that they were just piking up stragglers / recruits from nations they overwhelmed, or that they were simply picking up the swords, shields, and armor of defeated enemies (since in many cases those folks had good gear, just not enough people).

I’m going to ‘leap to a few conclusions’ and based on not nearly enough evidence. There will be loads of speculation, and not much in the way of facts. This is pretty much how it must be since there are few facts to use in the first place.

What Is Known

The Wiki isn’t too bad:


I note in passing that since a book / movie series about Native Americans has come out named “People Of The Sea”, the wiki now names the historical ones “Sea Peoples”, though notes the (correct IMHO) prior name in the text:

The Sea Peoples, or Peoples of the Sea were a wave of seafaring raiders and settlers thought to have originated from either western Anatolia or southern Europe, specifically a region of the Aegean Sea, who sailed around the eastern Mediterranean and invaded Anatolia, Syria, Canaan, Cyprus, and Egypt toward the end of the Bronze Age

And further down in the history of the term:

he term “Sea Peoples” was first used by Emmanuel de Rougé in 1855, then curator of the Louvre, who noted that “in the crests of the conquered peoples, the Sherden and the Teresh bear the designation of the “peuples de la mer”.
“of the sea” in the Great Karnak Inscription, referring to the Eqwesh, Shekelesh, and Sherden (n3 ḫ3s.wt n p3 ym) in hieroglyphs

The original looks to be “people of the sea” in both the French and the Coptic. It is my opinion that the use of the phrase “of the sea” is important. We will come back to that later.


Has a shorter and easier to follow write up, but less information in it. Also using “Sea Peoples”, which I think hides something important…

Question: Who Were the Sea People?

Answer: The situation regarding the identification of the Sea Peoples is more complicated than you might realize. The major problem is that we only have sketchy written records of their attacks on the established cultures of Egypt and the Near East, and these give only a vague idea of where they came from. Also, as the name suggests, they were a group of distinct peoples of diverse origins, not a single culture. Archaeologists have put some pieces of the puzzle together, but there are still some big gaps in our knowledge of them which will never be filled.

They are more willing to admit that it is entirely unclear who these folks were. There are a few Egyptian carvings with various names of peoples on them, but the Egyptians were rather fond of overstating things, and a ‘great victory’ against the Hittites was actually more of a stalemate and truce in other records… so listing all sorts of folks the Pharaoh didn’t like does not mean those countries really were involved. It might only have been a few folks from that tribe.

So what is generally believed is that they came from Southern Europe and Anatolia, and it was during the late Bronze Age. Beyond that we mostly only know a few names that the Egyptians put on some steleae. Not exactly a good accounting. But it can get worse. Some of the folks listed are also rather opaque as to who they were and where they came from.

The Sea Peoples, or Peoples of the Sea were a wave of seafaring raiders and settlers thought to have originated from either western Anatolia or southern Europe, specifically a region of the Aegean Sea, who sailed around the eastern Mediterranean and invaded Anatolia, Syria, Canaan, Cyprus, and Egypt toward the end of the Bronze Age. The term is used by modern scholars to refer to nine groups of people, although in the historical inscriptions the designation “of the sea” (Egyptian: n3 ḫ3s.wt n p3 ym) appears only in relation to three (the Sherden, Shekelesh, and Eqwesh). The identity of the Sea Peoples has remained enigmatic and modern scholars have only the scattered records of ancient civilizations and archaeological analysis to inform them.

The term “peuples de la mer” was first used in 1855 by French Egyptologist Emmanuel de Rougé, in a translation of reliefs at Medinet Habu documenting year 8 of Ramesses III.

The nine groups identified as Sea Peoples by modern scholars are, in alphabetical order: the Denyen, identified by some with the Greek Danaoi and by others with the Israelite tribe of Dan; the Ekwesh, possibly a group of Bronze Age Greeks (Achaeans); Lukka, an Anatolian people of the Aegean who may have given their name to the region of Lycia and the Lycian language; the Peleset, whose name is generally believed to refer to the Philistines; the Shekelesh, identified possibly with the Italic people called Siculi (from Sicily); the Sherden, possibly Sardinians or people of Sardis; the Teresh, i.e. the Tyrrhenians, possibly ancestors of the Etruscans; the Tjeker, also known as the Sikil and possibly Greek Teucrians; and the Weshesh.

Evidence for migrations of whole peoples are not found on any of the contemporary inscriptions, but versions of a “migration hypothesis” represent the widely held interpretation among scholars of the ancient Near East. Most scholars believe that they invaded Cyprus, Hatti and the Levant.

In other words, they don’t know and they are speculating about sources and destinations from darned near all of the Mediterranean and Anatolia (as far as the Hittites up north and the Levant south of it). Think about that for a minute. Southern Europe ( Spain, France, islands like Sardinia, Sicily, and Malta, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Romania / Bulgaria region, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Arabia & neighbors, and perhaps even into Iran/Persia ). That would be a hard turf to cover even today.

So I could wander through all those “peoples” and try to work out who they really were, and what the really did, but I think that isn’t so useful. Take the Danoi / Denyen… First off, we don’t know if that is one people, or two. For the Denyen, their wiki is very unhelpful:


The Denyen are one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples.
[table of contents skipped…]
They are mentioned in the Amarna letters from the 14th century BC as possibly being related to the “Land of the Danuna” near Ugarit.

The Egyptians described them as Sea Peoples.

That’s all it has for introduction and origin. The rest of the wiki shows quasi speculative links to other cultures and other peoples talking about someone who might, or might not, be the same people or a related group. Here’s the entirety of the rest of the wiki:

Hittite Empire

The Denyen have been identified with the people of Adana, in Cilicia who existed in late Hittite Empire times. They are also believed to have settled in Cyprus. A Hittite report speaks of a Muksus, who also appears in an eighth-century bilingual inscription from Karatepe in Cilicia. The kings of Adana are traced from the “house of Mopsos,” given in hieroglyphic Luwian as Moxos and in Phoenician as Mopsos, in the form mps. They were called the Dananiyim. The area also reports a Mopsukrene (Mopsus’ fountain in Greek) and a Mopsuhestia (Mopsus’ hearth in Greek), also in Cilicia.

Egyptian raids and settlement

They were raiders associated with the Eastern Mediterranean Dark Ages who attacked Egypt in 1207 BC in alliance with the Libyans and other Sea Peoples, as well as during the reign of Rameses III. The 20th Egyptian Dynasty allowed them to settle in Canaan, which was largely controlled by the Sea Peoples into the 11th century BC. Mercenaries from the Peleset manned the Egyptian garrison at Beth-shan, and the Denyen shared the same fashion as them which some archeology suggests signifies a shared cemetery there.

Aegean Sea

These areas also show evidence of close ties with the Aegean as a result of the Late Helladic IIIC 1b pottery found in these areas. Some scholars argue for a connection with the Greek Danaoi (Δαναοί)—alternate names for the Achaeans familiar from Homer. Greek myth refers to Danaos who with his daughters came from Egypt and settled in Argos. Through Danaë’s son, Perseus, the Danaans are said to have built Mycenae.

Tribe of Dan

Main article: Tribe of Dan
There are suggestions that the Denyen joined with Hebrews to form one of the original 12 tribes of Israel. No strong evidence support this view, however.

A minority view first suggested by Yigael Yadin attempted to connect the Denyen with the Tribe of Dan, described as remaining on their ships in the early Song of Deborah, contrary to the mainstream view of Israelite history. It was speculated that the Denyen had been taken to Egypt, and subsequently settled between the Caphtorite Philistines and the Tjekker, along the Mediterranean coast with the Tribe of Dan subsequently deriving from them.

The most famous Danite was Samson, whom some suggest is derived from Denyen tribal legends.

Essentially just saying some folks named “Dan—” wandered around near the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean about then and liked ships. And might maybe could be related to some other “Dan—” or be the same as them, and they are biblical stories and legends… OK…

Sidebar: There are some folks who assert that the Tribe of Dan eventually ended up in Ireland as the Irish. There’s a large bit of speculation about Welsh and Irish origins in lost tribes of Israel, along with parallels of ancient Gods being like Baal and a story of a flood and Noahe or some such. I could spend a week just on that… but won’t. Just realize there is a speculated connection of Dan— with folks moving from The Levant to West Europe. Here, just realize they are speculated as part of the Sea People too.

The other peoples in the group are not particular well attested either. Some are well know historically, but poorly characterized. Others modestly well characterized, but poorly known in actual history. In short, it’s a mess.

But some of them have details that hint at a direction.


The Sherden (Egyptian šrdn, š3rd3n3 or š3rdyn3, Ugaritic šrdnn(m) and trtn(m), possibly Akkadian še–er–ta–an–nu; also glossed “Shardana” or “Sherdanu”) are one of several groups of “Sea Peoples” who appear in fragmentary historical and iconographic records (Egyptian and Ugaritic) from the Eastern Mediterranean in the late second millennium BCE. On reliefs they are shown carrying a round shield and spear, dirk, or sword, perhaps of Naue II type. In some cases they are shown wearing corselets and kilts, but their key distinguishing feature is a horned helmet which, in all cases but three, features a circular accouterment at the crest. At Medinet Habu the corselet appears similar to that worn by the Philistines. The Sherden sword, it has been suggested by archaeologists since James Henry Breasted, may have developed from an enlargement of European daggers, and been associated with the exploitation of Bohemian tin.

Round shields, short swords, associated with Bohemia (Czech area today), and tin mines. Who were the big metal working folks from that region? Who was there in ancient times making beer? A mixed group of Germanic and Celts. The Vikings used a round shield (as did the Greeks) while in later years the Celts had an oval shield (as did the Romans – but since north Italy was Celts, the Boi, for whom Bohemia is named…) Also note the reference to wearing kilts.

In my opinion, we are getting our first decent clues out of the ‘kit’. Now Celtics, as such, were over most of middle Europe back then; but they were closely associated with Germanic tribes a bit further north for thousands of years. “They’ve met”… and seem to get along pretty well. Especially in “Bohemia” were we find evidence for beer making from ancient times (some of the earliest European history). The Franks were a Germanic tribe while the Gauls were a Celtic tribe. Today they are The French. And in Britain the native Celts and invading Germanics blended to make the present British. Similar history exists in Belgium Spain, and elsewhere. Germanic and Celtic tribes splitting Europe into north and south, and mixing frequently. (Something similar happens in the Eastern European / Asia areas. Celts were in Czech areas before the Slavs showed up, and some are still there playing the pipes. Celts were in Anatolia too. Celt mercenaries were used by some of the Pharaohs of Egypt, so they made it there, too.

In short, when looking at the ancient history of Europe and the Mediterranean, you simply must account for the Celts who were all over the place back then.

Celts in Europe.  Maximum in light green in 275 BC

Celts in Europe. Maximum in light green in 275 BC

But 275 BC is not 1200 BC… During the time of Ramesses II, Egypt had not been overrun by Arabs and turned into a Moslem state. People tend to forget that Egypt has been overrun many times, and the people living there now were not the same as those before. Before the Arabs were the Romans, and before them the Greeks. (Cleopatra was a Greek… the Ptolemaic Pharaohs originated from Greeks.) We also know that the ancient Egyptians were more “colorful”. From the wiki on Ramesses II:

“Microscopic inspection of the roots of Ramesses II’s hair proved that the king’s hair was originally red, which suggests that he came from a family of redheads.”

The early Thracians were also redheads. As were the Edomites from what is today southern Israel / northern Arabia.

Now we know those folks spoke different languages, came from divergent cultures, and had different histories. But we also know that the redhead gene is a specific marker that is mostly found and originating from a particular group of folks originating in Europe (though some, the Tocharians, made it all the way to China, so there’s some redhead Chinese / Mongols out there).

The point here is simply to say that today the redhead gene is seen most strongly in the surviving speakers of Celtic languages. The Irish and British, and to some extent the French (where Breton can still be found spoken, in a dying out kind of way…) We can see, though, that the genetic marker was around much more in ancient Egypt than in the Egypt of today.

So what does this have to do with the People Of The Sea?

It sets a context.

The Celts, as speakers of Celtic languages, have a long history. But at some point in deeper history, they blend with the Italic speakers. Even further back, Italo-Celtic blends in with German. That time line matters a little, as it lets us know when Celts, as Celts, form. But as a genetic group, we see their red hair roots reaching back further in time. (No, you don’t need to be a redhead to be a true Celt. Scots, for example, often have very dark hair. It is just a marker gene that tends to have association with Celts, at least once they start speaking early Celtic languages). This mention of the redhead gene is simply to point out that redheads were more common in 1200 BC in Egypt and related areas. Celtic mercenaries were working the area, and the Pharaoh was a redhead. The odds are that the various other folks of the area, then, were a bit lighter too. (Greece had a several hundred year domination by Muslim Arabs and their friends that darkened their hair a bit too. The Thracians may have run off to the north to make the root from which the Goths – and Germanics, derived; but that’s a different thread. Just remember that Sweden was under ice 12,000 years ago and those blond Germanics came from further south too…)

To reach back to ‘who were The Sea People’, you must also reach back to ‘who were the Greeks, then’ and ‘who were the Italians, then’ and… They were not the same people we think of today, since the mixing of the Roman Empire, Arab invasions, et. al. had not happened. Spain, for example, had a load of Celts in it, along with some Phoenicians, prior to the arrival of the invading Muslim Arabs and Berbers. (Even there, the Goths had eventually ended up as Visigoths in north Africa, so many modern Berbers have red hair or beards… which may matter when thinking of the Barbary Pirates…)

So picture a world with a lighter haired set of folks in Southern Europe, and with redheads from Phoenicia to Thrace, to Greece, to Egypt and Spain. But while we can call them Celts, in many cases, it’s hard to call them Gaelic. That language family was still forming:


Primitive Irish or Archaic Irish (Irish: Gaeilge Ársa) is the oldest known form of the Goidelic languages. It is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the ogham alphabet in Ireland and western Great Britain from around the 4th to the 7th or 8th century.

We’ve got to get about 2000 years further back in history to get to 1200 BC and Ramesses II. We can get back to 800 BC with Iron Age Celts (getting away from Goidelic and into more continental Celtic languages).


The tribes populating the island belonged to a broadly Celtic culture, termed Insular (as opposed to the non-insular Celtic cultures of continental Gaul and Iberia). The Brythonic and Goidelic languages are recognised as forming the Insular Celtic subgroup of the Celtic languages, “Celtic” being a linguistic term without an implication of a lasting cultural unity connecting Gaul with the British Isles throughout the Iron Age

But if we move even further back, unifying the Celtic languages, what’s that time horizon?


The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the reconstructed ancestor language of all the known Celtic languages. Its lexis can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of the comparative method of historical linguistics. Proto-Celtic is a branch of the Western Indo-European languages, with the other branches Italic languages, Germanic languages, Albanian language and the Balto-Slavic group. The exact relationships between these branches are under discussion. The earliest archaeological culture that may justifiably be considered as Proto-Celtic is the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of central Europe from the last quarter of the second millennium BC.

Which puts us right about 1300 BC to 1200 BC…

Now what happens when you go back just one more step?


Other similarities include the fact that certain common words, such as the words for common metals (gold, silver, tin, etc.) are similar in Italic and Celtic yet divergent from other Indo-European languages. A number of other similarities continue to be pointed out and debated.

The r-passive (mediopassive) was initially thought to be an innovation restricted to Italo-Celtic until it was found to be a retained archaism shared with Hittite, Tocharian, and possibly Phrygian.

We find that the Italics (later to merge with the Etruscans and others for make Italy and then a bunch of other folks under the Roman Empire and become Italians of today) along with those Tocharians of Asia and even the Phrygians have a bit of common ancestry with the Celts. Remember that reference up above to The Sea People including some from Anatolia? Well per the wiki on Phrygians:

“In antiquity, Phrygia (/ˈfrɪdʒiə/; Greek: Φρυγία, Ancient Greek: [pʰryɡía], Turkish: Frigya) was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now Turkey, centered on the Sakarya River.”

The point here being that when someone says folks from Anatolia attacked Egypt is is easy to picture a set of Turkish dark hair swarthy folks attacking another set of dark hair Arab folks. The reality is that the Turks had not invaded Anatolia then, and the Arabs had not invaded Egypt then. It was more like “relatives of ancient Celts” attacking “a Redhead Pharaoh and his Celtic mercenaries” in a land mostly speaking Coptic.

The Sea People were commonly called raiders, or pirates, or invaders. Not a given nation or a given country. THE only name they give is “the People of the Sea”. Latch on to that…

Now, that’s all pretty non-speculative. Here comes the leap of speculation.

I’d gotten to wondering just WHY Celtic languages are called Gaelic and not Celtic. What’s the history of that name shift?


The names used in the languages themselves (Gaeilge/Gaolainn/Gaelic in Irish, Gaelg/Gailck in Manx, and Gàidhlig in Scottish Gaelic) are derived from Old Irish Goídelc, which comes from Old Welsh Guoidel meaning “pirate, raider”.

So here we have this group of folks, who call their language the language of pirates. There have a long and rich history of being pirates, with that persisting even into today where Pirate movies are particularly fixating for my little Celts at home…


The West Country accent is probably most identified in American English as “pirate speech” — cartoon-like “Ooh arr, me ‘earties! Sploice the mainbrace!” talk is very similar. This may be a result of the strong seafaring tradition of the West Country, both legal and outlaw. Edward Teach (Blackbeard) was a native of Bristol, and privateer and English hero Francis Drake hailed from Tavistock in Devon.
It’s definitely West Country UK that you’re hearing in the “pirate accent”.

I would say the origins would be more specifically Cornwall, one of the counties of the West Country. Cornwall is a peninsula with a long seafaring and fishing tradition, and some wild weather and rugged coastlines, and it was famous for wreckers, pirates and smugglers.

so even the “pirate accent” of today originates in an area of historic pirate activity and with historical Celtic ancestry… Things cultural can persist for thousands of years, and often through a couple of changes of language. Place names, for example in The U.K., often reflect Celtic or Viking languages. We have Christmas traditions that are reflections of thousands of year old Pagan and Druid beliefs.

Now, when confronted by a Pirate, what do they say is their origin?


They came indeed, as the traditional pirate greeting indicates, “from the sea.”

Here’s the full text:

What do you think about contemporary piracy, especially off the coast of Somalia?

I know very little about it. I don’t think it has much to do with what I’m studying in this book, because for me the central feature of the golden age pirates is their lack of home, their “nomadism,” if you will. All that the golden age pirates really had were their ships. They came indeed, as the traditional pirate greeting indicates, “from the sea.” This distinguishes them from all other famous pirate communities, including the North African corsairs in the 16th century, the pirate syndicates of the South China Sea in the 19th, or contemporary pirates along the Horn of Africa.

So the traditional Celtic derived pirate greeting was not to say “We are from Ireland” or wherever, but to say “We are from the sea”. Rather close to “We are people of the sea”, don’t you think?

And this is not just a recent faux Pirate infatuation. Nor only Celtic.


Explores the ancient Greek attitudes about Pirates and Piracy:

Apart from the Taphians other ancient peoples were also noted for their piracy. Strabo mentions the Achaei, Zygi and Heniochi, people said to be descended from both Jason’s argonauts and the Lochrians. Their home was in the Caucasus region bordering the Black Sea and they lived by piracy. Their boats were slender,narrow and lightweight and held about 25 men. Strabo says that they used these when they attacked merchant shipping or cities and were ‘masters of the sea’.

Masters of the sea. As a descriptive, but still, not Masters of ships or Masters from Taphia…

Pulling it together

So running the time back to 1250 BC or so, we have some proto-Celts and Italo-Celts hanging around with some Thracian proto-Germanics and a few Greek Pirates. Times get tough, and they get to their boats. When challenged as to who they are or from where the come, the traditional answer was “We are of the sea!” or perhaps even “We are masters of the sea” or “We are people from the sea”… Thus, the sea peoples.

As history rolls on, a few empires stomp out much of that culture and people, but a part of them from the far west, out on some islands, has kept on being Pirates and announcing themselves as “From the Sea”… yet their neighbors know and say they speak “Gaelic” – the language of the Pirates. The language of the People Of The Sea”… Much changed by a couple of thousand years. No longer an Italo-Celt root language; but the tradition lives on.

Over time, the Greeks got invaded and darkened by the Arabs. The Iberian Celts too in their Moorish years. Thrace is gone, though they and the Trojans (and the Hittites?) ran up north to wetter lands during the droughts. Germanic history reaches back through the Goths to the Swedes; then has myths of moving from somewhere further south – perhaps Thrace or Troy. (Yes, there is a thread that says “Helen of Troy” has much in common with a Swedish Blond Bombshell…) But that is for another day. Still, turning that clock backwards…

We have a long history of a People From The Sea being pirates and of Celtic / Gaelic core, with additions of Germanic types and some Italian and Greek members too. Perhaps it’s a 2000 year old history, reaching back to another People Of The Sea, pirating and raiding and not too impressed with Empire… or emperors… or even a redheaded Pharaoh… though that last one was an empire too far (or maybe it’s just a bad idea to mess with a redhead and his Celtic mercenaries… even if you are a pirate ;-)

No, not the Irish or Gaelic of today. Some the Anatolian cousins. Some the great great … grand dads. Some the Italian 8th cousins. But with a cultural echo that carries far. For my money, I think it fair to say that the “People Of The Sea” were Pirates. Had a pirate tradition. Called themselves “Of The Sea”. Had an Italo-Celtic core, that persisted on the fringes as Gaelic speaking pirates. Added in some distant relatives from Anatolia, Italy, and even a few proto-Germanics and Greeks. The Hittites suddenly disappear after a change of weather conditions. Their language is similar to other old Indo-European languages, so perhaps they make some of the core of later German or Celt groups. At their largest, they covered most of Anatolia, then fell in about 1200 BC (at about the time The Sea People were a problem).

The Late Bronze Age Collapse was wide spread, and a sudden shift of climate with drought was an important factor. With empires on land having problems and agriculture failing, having the folks who knew how to make a living from the sea rise in power is not at all a surprise. As a Hittite, with the empire falling, throwing in with some Celts on ships is an attractive option. Ramesses had fought the Hittites to a treaty stage, but they could not stand the drought. IMHO that’s why we see some Hittite battle dress in the drawings of The Sea People. As with most Pirate Crew, they were a mixed crew of nationalities and gear. In keeping with the best Celtic traditions, a bit of a “Y’all come” meritocracy. But with the “traditions” and language roots only hanging on in the Gaeltacht…

Bronze Age Collapse with “Sea People” raids

It is worth noting from that period (the Late Bronze Age Collapse) that the onset was followed by the Iron Age Cold Period. It is still a bit unclear just how much time separates them (if any).

The Late Bronze Age collapse was a transition in the Aegean Region, Southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that historians, such as Amos Nur and Leonard R. Palmer, believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive. The palace economy of the Aegean Region and Anatolia which characterised the Late Bronze Age was replaced, after a hiatus, by the isolated village cultures of the Greek Dark Ages.

Between 1206 and 1150 BC, the cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and Syria, and the New Kingdom of Egypt in Syria and Canaan interrupted trade routes and severely reduced literacy. In the first phase of this period, almost every city between Pylos and Gaza was violently destroyed, and often left unoccupied thereafter: examples include Hattusa, Mycenae, and Ugarit. Drews writes “Within a period of forty to fifty years at the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the twelfth century almost every sigificant city in the eastern Mediterranean world was destroyed, many of them never to be occupied again”

That would be too much for even a large number of Pirates to pull off. So my thesis would be that the Pirates were more a response to a climate driven collapse of agriculture, and through that Empire, rather than the proximal cause. Now once the fall has started, a little push can be profitable to a Pirate…


From around 1200 BC, the palace centres and outlying settlements of the Mycenaeans’ highly organized culture began to be abandoned or destroyed, and by 1050 BC, the recognizable features of Mycenaean culture had disappeared. Many explanations attribute the fall of the Mycenaean civilization and the Bronze Age collapse to climatic or environmental catastrophe combined with an invasion by Dorians or by the Sea Peoples or the widespread availability of edged weapons of iron, but no single explanation fits the available archaeological evidence.

That leads me to think that the major part of The Sea People were not Greeks (why would they attack their homeland?…)

The Greek Dark Age or Ages and Geometric or Homeric Age (ca. 1100–800 BC) are terms which have regularly been used to refer to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean palatial civilization around 1100 BC, to the first signs of the Greek poleis in the 9th century BC.

The archaeological evidence shows a widespread collapse of Bronze Age civilization in the eastern Mediterranean world at the outset of the period, as the great palaces and cities of the Mycenaeans were destroyed or abandoned. Around this time, the Hittite civilization suffered serious disruption and cities from Troy to Gaza were destroyed. Following the collapse, fewer and smaller settlements suggest famine and depopulation. In Greece the Linear B writing of the Greek language used by Mycenaean bureaucrats ceased. The decoration on Greek pottery after ca 1100 BC lacks the figurative decoration of Mycenaean ware and is restricted to simpler, generally geometric styles (1000–700 BC).


The Iron Age Cold Epoch (also referred to as Iron Age climate pessimum or Iron Age neoglaciation) was a period of unusually cold climate in the North Atlantic region, lasting from about 900 BC to about 300 BC, with an especially cold wave in 450 BC during the expansion of ancient Greece. It was followed by the Roman Warm Period (250 BC – 400 AD).

So, IMHO, there was a warm and wet golden age of Egypt. The periodic drought that topples civilizations there, as in the Old Kingdom, returned; but it was worse ‘up north’ in Anatolia. The Hittites, the Anatolian relatives of the Celts, some Boi / Northern Italy Celts and some Italic relatives banded together with the odd Trojans / proto-Germanics and some more western Celts with ships. These made up The Sea People, as a group of Pirates. They continued this association as things got very cold (Bronze Age Collapse into Iron Age Pessimum). Eventually the Roman Warm Period arrives, and with it renewed Empire. That Empire erases many of the linguistic, cultural, and historical connections; even mixing the genetics enough to make it hard to follow.

Where does the ‘tradition’ hold on? Among the Pirates, speaking the Gaelic language of the pirates, and avoiding Roman rule. Still announcing themselves as The People From The Sea…

So as we turn from THIS warm period, into cold: Watch out for drought in the Levant and Iran. Be wary of disruptions and government collapse in Egypt. Don’t expect the European Union Empire of today to hold together for long.

And, I’d suggest, it might be good to see how you look in a three corner hat, practice saying “Arrgh!” and get some practice with Gaelic ;-) This might just be a good time for The People Of The Sea again…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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32 Responses to Who were the People Of The Sea?

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; I believe you are correct, the “Sea People” were a life style not a breed. Fishermen, traders or pirates are all people of the sea. At times they may have acted as a “nation” for protection and the power of the group in a democratic republic manner. People who travel the seas of the world and are not married to the land can have quite an effect beyond their numbers. They have access to all the latest technologies as well. They are able to accumulate great wealth that can be MOVED to safety from the grasp of greedy bureaucrats and their rulers. Sea People have existed for as long as humans have traveled the earth.

    Celts on the other hand likely had their origin in the Baltic river valleys during the ice age, trapped between the ice mountains of the north, the tundra to the east and ice field covered mountains to the south. They had little or no contact with the rest of humanity, perhaps for as long as 1000 generations. With the sea levels 500 to 600 ft lower then present the tree line / snow line would be also lower. Actual weather conditions at sea level would be the same as now, so, the climate / growing conditions would be the same as now in that area. Tree and meadow with cool damp conditions. The rapid flooding of this vast area drove them out of their home lands to become conquers from land and sea. pg

  2. omanuel says:

    I am having lunch with my son in the Grecian Steak House, beneath pictures of Aristotle and Socrates.

    I am grateful for the contributions the Greeks and Egyptians made to humanity. It is no mere coincidence that an Egyptian publishing firm had the courage to request submission of our paper, “Solar energy,” exposing sixty-nine years of deceit that has engulfed society since 24 Oct 1945!

  3. Climate Researcher  says:

    A review of the book “CLIMATE CHANGE THE FACTS 2014” by about 24 authors.

    The best and most relevant chapter in this new book is that by William Soon, namely Chapter 4 “Sun Shunned” in which he discusses things such as the eccentricity of the Sun’s orbit that I have also pointed out as the principal regulator of glacial periods.

    The rest of the chapters on the “science” do not discuss the valid physics which is really what does determine Earth’s surface temperatures. Instead the “lukes” all reiterate the false claim that carbon dioxide causes significant warming of the surface by radiative forcing. Nowhere is the assumed process of forcing actually discussed. We just get the usual false paradigm that carbon dioxide traps outward radiation and thus supposedly makes the surface warmer.

    Carbon dioxide does not trap thermal energy. It disposes of what it absorbs either by subsequent radiation or by sensible heat transfer (via molecular collisions) to other air molecules which outnumber it by 2,500 to 1. It also helps nitrogen and oxygen cool through such collisions, and may subsequently radiate the energy thus acquire out of the atmosphere.

    All radiation between regions at different temperatures can only transfer thermal energy from the warmer region (or surface) to a cooler region. This means all heat transfer in the troposphere is generally upwards to cooler regions, with a proportion always getting through to space. There is no thermal energy transferred to a warmer surface. The energy transfer is the other way. The Sun’s radiation is not helped by radiation from the atmosphere which is only sending back some of its own energy now with much lower energy photons. Radiating gases reduce the insulating effect by helping energy to escape faster, and that is why moist air in double glazed windows also reduces the insulating effect, just as does water vapor in the troposphere.

    Nowhere in the book do we see the surface temperature explained correctly using Stefan Boltzmann calculations. No one ever does this, because it is an absolute stumbling block for climatologists. The mean solar flux entering the surface is only about 163W/m^2 after 52% of the solar radiation has been either absorbed or reflected by the surface, clouds or atmosphere. But such a low level of radiation would only produce a very cold -41°C. That’s even colder than what the IPCC claims would be the case, namely -18°C without greenhouse gases. They deduce that by assuming that the whole troposphere would be isothermal due to convective heat transfer, including sensible heat transfers by molecular collision.

    Hence all the “luke” authors fall for the trap of not actually explaining the existing surface temperature, let alone what carbon dioxide might or might not do. How could you work out the latter if you don’t know your starting point? The truth is that you cannot calculate the surface temperature of any planet that has a significant atmosphere by using radiation calculations. Hence all the considerations pertaining to radiation and absorption by carbon dioxide are totally within a wrong paradigm.

    That assumption by the IPCC (and thus by the “lukes” who have written this book) that the troposphere would be isothermal was rubbished in the 19th century by some physicists who understood the process described in statements of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It is still being rubbished to this day, and even more so, now that physicists realise that the Second Law is all about entropy increasing to the point where there are no unbalanced energy potentials. In a gravitational field this state of thermodynamic equilibrium is attained when all the energy potentials involving gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy and radiative energy balance out. That is when the environmental temperature gradient is attained, and the very fact that it exists enables us to explain all planetary surface temperatures (and the required energy flows) without the slightest reference to back radiation, let alone trace gases like carbon dioxide. Only water vapor has a significant effect in lowering that gradient because of its radiating properties. It thus cools the surface, and that puts a big spanner in the works for the IPCC et al.

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    You can see the migrations of the R1b haplogroup here:

    Celts show up about 2000 BC (before that, they are mushed in with the Germanic, Italic and Balto/Slavic R1b types)

    The Atlantic Celtic branch (L21)

    The Proto-Italo-Celto-Germanic R1b people had settled in what is now Germany by 2300 BCE, where they founded the Unetice culture. Judging from the propagation of bronze working to Western Europe, those first Indo-Europeans reached France and the Low Countries by 2200 BCE, Britain by 2100 BCE and Ireland by 2000 BCE, and Iberia by 1800 BCE. This first wave of R1b presumably carried R1b-L21 lineages in great number (perhaps because of a founder effect), as these are found everywhere in western, northern and Central Europe. The early split of L21 from the main Proto-Celtic branch around Germany would explain why the Q-Celtic languages (Goidelic and Hispano-Celtic) diverged so much from the P-Celtic branch (La Tène, Gaulish, Brythonic), which appears to have expanded from the later Urnfield and Hallstat cultures.

    Some L21 lineages from the Netherlands and northern Germany later entered Scandinavia (from 1700 BCE) with the dominant subclade of the region, R1b-S21/U106 (see below). The stronger presence of L21 in Norway and Iceland can be attributed to the Norwegian Vikings, who had colonised parts of Scotland and Ireland and taken slaves among the native Celtic populations, whom they brought to their new colony of Iceland and back to Norway. Nowadays about 20% of all Icelandic male lineages are R1b-L21 of Scottish or Irish origin.

    In France, R1b-L21 is mainly present in historical Brittany (including Mayenne and Vendée) and in Lower Normandy. This region was repopulated by massive immigration of insular Britons in the 5th century due to pressure from the invading Anglo-Saxons. However, it is possible that L21 was present in Armorica since the Bronze age or the Iron age given that the tribes of the Armorican Confederation of ancient Gaul already had a distinct identity from the other Gauls and had maintained close ties with the British Isles at least since the Atlantic Bronze Age

    I wonder how much of the Vikings taking slaves part is speculation. I doubt that a male slave taken by vikings would end up having a whole lot of kids… My speculation would be more along the lines of the Germanic and Celtic types having been one tribe at one point, and being in close proximity over much of Europe for thousands of years, there was a fair amount of folks moving from one lifestyle to the other. I could easily see a Celt on the edge of Viking colonies somewhere, asking if he can sign up for a little bit of ‘going a viking’ himself… Just as many Viking villages ended up as trade centers. There is also good evidence for the precursor Germanic folks joining the Celts in a big beer making party in Bavaria / Czech and everyone just having a good time.

    So yeah, some warfare, but also a decent amount of intermarriage and emigration, IMHO.

    Then again, maybe when Olaf was off on a viking his Swedish wife was happy to play with the Irish / Scots slave…

    At any rate, what the flow of R1b says is that it started down near where the Bible says the Edomites were running around (redheads… think about that brother of Israel, Esau, with his birthright taken… remember the red hair? He runs off and founds the Edomites who make a lot of trouble for generations to come ;-) That story actually parallels the path the R1b haplogroup takes back in time… Then some splits off to the Tocharians, a bit goes to north India (where the mitochondrial DNA shows they hooked up with local women – thus the locals being dark and not pale redheads ;-) and a main chunk curves up and over north Central Europe, eventually stopping the Westward Ho movement in San Francisco and Hawaii as they ran into the ones who went the other way through Australia…. Along the way splitting into Germanic types, some Slavic (though a fair number of them are the R1a cousins), and some Scandinavians.

    Not a lot of sitting around trapped by ice…

  5. Graeme No.3 says:

    Several comments;
    there is speculation that with the collapse of the Hittite Empire (due to climate change & drier conditions?) survivors moved into northern Syria where rainfall was more regular. Doesn’t mean they weren’t targets for raids nor that they raided others.
    Red headed mummies were found at Urumchi on the borders of China. Thought to be Celtic, certainly not mongolian.
    During WW2 a german force reached the Caucasus Mountains where they found several villages speaking a dialect of Gaelic. They were able to converse because one of the german lieutenants had been studying that language in Oxford (?) in the late 1930’s.
    Seems the Celts spread quite widely (and don’t forget that Irish monks settled Iceland before the Vikings got there).

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith I think the ice caused entrapment and resultant great flood were about over 6,800 years ago. Em… in time for the eviction from Eden maybe. ;-) The Indo-Europeans of the sub continent are very different from the Indo-Europeans of the far north, but not so much different from those from north Africa and the Med area. This points to long term isolation and its closed inbreeding of recessive genes. Dark skin, eyes and hair are a health hindrance in a cool wet environment. pg

  7. R. Shearer says:

    You might find this interesting. About a half million tons of Michigan copper mined beginning in 3000 BC is missing. There is some suggestion that it was involved in European trade during the Bronze Age. http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf090/sf090a01.htm

  8. R. Shearer says:

    “Indian legends tell the mining was done by fair-haired “marine men”. Along with wooden tools, and stone hammers, a walrus-skin bag has been found (Ref. 1 ). A huge copper boulder was found in the bottom of a deep pit raised up on solid oak timbers, still preserved in the anaerobic conditions for more than 3,000 years. Some habitation sites and garden beds have been found and studied (various ref). It is thought that most of the miners retired to Aztalan (near Madison, Wisconsin) and other locations to the south at the onset of the hard winters on Lake Superior. The mining appears to have ended overnight, as though they had left for the day, and never came back. A petroglyph of one of their sailing ships has been found (Fig.7).” http://rocksandrows.com/copper-trade-2.php

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    @R Shearer; Thank you for the 2 links. Very interesting reads. I was aware of native copper along Lake Superior, but not the vast amounts or the possibility that it was the source of large amounts of copper for early bronze making. Alaska has similar deposits of lava copper deposits. Anaconda and Kennicote had their beginnings in Prince William Sound area lava copper deposits of extraordinary richness. There are new lava copper outflows off the coast of Oregon. Strange that copper is presently mined from open pits with very poor yields per ton. pg

  10. Ben Vorlich says:

    The Declaration of Arbroath written in 1320 as an appeal to the pope to end the English attempt to conquer Scotland contains a reference to the history of the Scots; presumably from an oral history now lost. The relevant text is

    Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown.

    They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous.

    Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today.

    The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since.

    In their kingdom there have reigned one hundred and thirteen kings of their own royal stock, the line unbroken a single foreigner.

    I think that the Picts (and Britons for that matter) were totally unrelated to the Scots until the Scots started to invade Argyll from Antrim

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    OK, you are going back further than I was. Going “way back” to the start, we can look at where the R haplogroup originated and trace it ( including to the split of it into R1, R2,… and then into R1a and R2b and…) if desired. From the start:


    Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago). This haplogroup has been identified in the remains of a 24,000 year-old boy from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia (Raghavan et al. 2013). This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic. Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have contributed mostly to the ancestry of modern Europeans and South Asians, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

    The oldest forms of R1b (M343, P25, L389) are found dispersed at very low frequencies from Western Europe to India, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age. The three main branches of R1b1 (R1b1a, R1b1b, R1b1c) all seem to have stemmed from the Middle East. The southern branch, R1b1c (V88), is found mostly in the Levant and Africa. The northern branch, R1b1a (P297), seems to have originated around the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia or northern Mesopotamia, then to have crossed over the Caucasus, from where they would have invaded Europe and Central Asia. R1b1b (M335) has only been found in Anatolia.

    So hunting mammoths in Siberia and north Russia. The Slavic side of the R group hasn’t moved far over the years ;-)

    It is important to realize that “Asians” as a genetic type originated in south east Asia as a tropical type. “Europeans” are actually “north Asians” and are snow and ice adapted (low melanin for decent Vit. D formation with only the face exposed, thicker bodies for better heat retention, more body hair (it actually helps trap a layer of air under thin fabrics), etc.)

    So yes, we were isolated by the ice, but not trapped. We chose to live up with the woolly mammoth as they were the herd we followed… At some point, we hunted down into the Middle East where R1b1 split up into sub-types. (There are folks who assert that the original Jews were R1b type: http://miriamhakedosha.blogspot.com/2008/03/sons-of-jacob-dna-and-jews.html which would sort of fit with the biblical story of Esau, but that’s more speculative than the DNA maps), while another batch were isolated a bit in Caucasus to Anatolia / north Iraq, and invaded back into Central Asia along with wandering off to Europe. Some (the M335) stayed in Anatolia…

    The Redhead gene, that tends to travel with R1b, originated in those North Asian mammoth hunters back then. Likely the R1a blond type happened about then / there too, as the Germanics spread out a bit more north while the Celts spread out a bit south of them. Related and ‘in contact’ for many thousands of years. Eventually we end up with the “historical period” and find that the Roman Empire was fond of moving people all over the place and anywhere they went, the people get more mixed. Anywhere the Romans didn’t dominate tends to reflect that long standing original distribution. (But even where the Romans dominated, the statistical trend is still toward the original, it just has a lot of ‘other stuff’ mixed in in smaller amounts).

    Oh, and the Germanic / Italio-Celts look to have been the original cattle herders and have the highest level of lactase persistence genes. They preferentially occupied the best places to run cattle, not mountain tops; so throughout Europe you find the non-R types that reflect the original occupants (pre-Celt invasion) among remnant populations up in the mountains. (That ‘spread’ was something like 6000 yrs ago, and there were already people in Europe then).

    Neolithic cattle herders

    It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs. With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals. The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming. Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.

    The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains. The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.

    So when you think of Turkey and Iraq today, the tendency is to see them as dark hair Arab type peoples. Yet “back then” when the ice was nearer, it was a light haired R1b area with domestication of cattle. As the ice receded, we spread out over all of Central Europe (while the R1a Germanic went more north and Slavic types kept hold of Central East Europe / West Asia)

    Now the part that’s harder to explain is the high concentration of R1b in some parts of Central Africa… One can only speculate that a few guys went to visit and…

    Remember those rock carvings / pictures of folks hunting and herding cattle in the Sahara, back when it was a grassland and not a desert? Yup, likely R1b types.

    Like its northern counterpart (R1b-M269), R1b-V88 is associated with the domestication of cattle in northern Mesopotamia. Both branches of R1b probably split soon after cattle were domesticated, approximately 10,500 years ago (8,500 BCE). R1b-V88 migrated south towards the Levant and Egypt. The migration of R1b people can be followed archeologically through the presence of domesticated cattle, which appear in central Syria around 8,000-7,500 BCE (late Mureybet period), then in the Southern Levant and Egypt around 7,000-6,500 BCE (e.g. at Nabta Playa and Bir Kiseiba). Cattle herders subsequently spread across most of northern and eastern Africa. The Sahara desert would have been more humid during the Neolithic Subpluvial period (c. 7250-3250 BCE), and would have been a vast savannah full of grass, an ideal environment for cattle herding. Evidence of cow herding during the Neolithic has shown up at Uan Muhuggiag in central Libya around 5500 BCE, at the Capeletti Cave in northern Algeria around 4500 BCE. But the most compelling evidence that R1b people related to modern Europeans once roamed the Sahara is to be found at Tassili n’Ajjer in southern Algeria, a site famous pyroglyphs (rock art) dating from the Neolithic era. Some painting dating from around 3000 BCE depict fair-skinned and blond or auburn haired women riding on cows.

    So the fact that Ramesses was a redhead my be more an artifact of the original peoples of the area than any re-arrival of Celts from central Europe… The other implication of this is that the drying of the Sahara that drove those folks to the Nile (and started that whole Empire and Civilization thing) was likely in large part a bunch of ‘blond or auburn haired’ folks riding on cows. And that would explain the ‘veneration’ of redheads by later Egyptians as a kind of cultural artifact of remembering their founders / roots as the empire pulled in more dark hair types and the redhead gene submerged, as recessive traits tend to do. Add some selective pressure as the place dried out and became more sunny and darker color will be favored. It takes about 25,000 years for the Vit D / Skin Cancer axis to select for light skin up north or dark skin where very sunny. So blend in some nubians and bake in the sun for 4000 years, mix in an Arab invasion of Muslims, and you get the modern Egyptian that isn’t at all a Celt.

    Now what I find interesting is that at Gobekli Tepi
    we find the earliest civilization evidence. Then later when folks from that area about then, moved to the Sahara then got shoved into Egypt, we get the rise of the oldest well attested civilization. As they fall, we find the next rise of civilizations in Europe, about where more of those folks had gone with their cattle. Later still, that same type in the form of English, Spanish, and French have their own civilizations (and empires) scattered all over the globe. I’m tempted to speculate that something about cattle herding and property rights might have been the ‘push’ that leads to civilizations forming.

    Also, it looks like a remnant headed south, since just south of the Sahara is a large blob of R1b type, in what are now clearly black Africans (doing cattle herding…). This tends to explain the presence of milk consumption by black Africans as that gene would have arrived with the R1b and the cattle.

    Nowadays small percentages (1 to 4%) of R1b-V88 are found in the Levant, among the Lebanese, the Druze, and the Jews, and almost in every country in Africa north of the equator. Higher frequency in Egypt (5%), among Berbers from the Egypt-Libya border (23%), among the Sudanese Copts (15%), the Hausa people of Sudan (40%), the the Fulani people of the Sahel (54% in Niger and Cameroon), and Chadic tribes of northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon (especially among the Kirdi), where it is observed at a frequency ranging from 30% to 95% of men. According to Cruciani et al. (2010) R1b-V88 would have crossed the Sahara between 9,200 and 5,600 years ago, and is most probably associated with the diffusion of Chadic languages, a branch of the Afroasiatic languages. V88 would have migrated from Egypt to Sudan, then expanded along the Sahel until northern Cameroon and Nigeria. However, R1b-V88 is not only present among Chadic speakers, but also among Senegambian speakers (Fula-Hausa) and Semitic speakers (Berbers, Arabs).

    R1b-V88 is found among the native populations of Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau. The wide distribution of V88 in all parts of Africa, its incidence among herding tribes, and the coalescence age of the haplogroup all support a Neolithic dispersal. In any case, a later migration out of Egypt would be improbable since it would have brought haplogroups that came to Egypt during the Bronze Age, such as J1, J2, R1a or R1b-L23.

    See the map:

    Quite a spread for some genes that arose in a mammoth hunting tribe in north central Asia…

    Oh,and the R1a cousins (also mammoth hunters in the same place) didn’t spread as much, but tend to be higher in the European / Asian places where R1b is less. Between them the have a very high density:


  12. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; Your half full cup appears to be half empty to me. ;-)

    Experience tells me that the wide spread gene map shows a population being bred out of existence and no longer being spread. The areas of highest concentration are those with the least successful migration forcing from outside.
    I can just see Red headed giant cowboys with horned head gear, spears and shields, their herds invading an area. Driving off every thing before them as they search for more grass!
    The Auroch of Europe was a forest beast of giant size “4 yards long and 3 yards tall at the shoulders”. The prairie Auroch was about half that size. Capture and taming of a female calf or two would be all that is needed to start a herd. That would have likely been done by a woman, they tend to do those things, ;-) protecting it from being killed for food by the men. Any further animal genes needed would come from wild stock. Such an animal would have been useful to the women, first as a beast of burden, to transport their things. Soon everyone would HAVE to have one. The first SUV to haul the kids and groceries! pg

  13. M Simon says:

    I’m tempted to speculate that something about cattle herding and property rights might have been the ‘push’ that leads to civilizations forming.

    Bucky Fuller speculates that farming led to geometry.

  14. M Simon says:

    My mustache is mainly red. My beard has (well had) flecks of red.

  15. Jason Calley says:

    Gee whiz! So many threads…

    @ R. Shearer “About a half million tons of Michigan copper mined beginning in 3000 BC is missing. There is some suggestion that it was involved in European trade during the Bronze Age.”

    That is one of the more wonderful mysteries of the past! All that copper – and some estimates place the amount at closer to a million tons. Over the years I have several times read claims that an isotopic measurement of European Bronze Age metals has been made to show that the copper did, in fact, come from North America. I have never been able to verify that though. Just recently however, I ran across some information that is an intriguing tie in with the Great Lakes copper trade. If you look at maps of Western Minnesota, roughly 50 miles south east of Fargo, ND., you will find a slight geological tableland, a sort of low plateau, called “horst.” This horst is covered with lakes, and is the confluence of several river basin drainage areas. In a relatively small region, you can go from a Great Lakes river system, to a Northern Canada/Hudson Bay drainage, to a Mississippi River/ Gulf of Mexico drainage. This makes the region a perfect place for trading goods and transshipping copper in several directions. Looking at satellite photos there are traces of major earthworks tying the region’s lakes into a series of sailing, rowing and portage sections. On large lakes adjacent to portage sections, you may find what look to be staging areas for loading or unloading small boats so that the goods and the boats can be carried separately. Additionally, some creek and stream sections appear straightened, and some rapids look to have artificial bypasses dug around them. Various mooring stones with drilled holes for anchor pins are scattered along the most feasible routes across the horst. I used to just assume that the majority of the copper would be shipped directly east from Lake Superior, but that be only one of the routes used. Four thousand years ago, the North West Passage may have been open reliably enough to even ship copper across Northern Canada and down the Bering Strait to China. Another possibility is shipping down the Mississippi to Poverty Point for reloading on trans-Atlantic ships. Of course copper is not the only item worth trading, and furs and walrus or narwhal ivory may have passed through Minnesota as well.

    Which brings us to a two thousand year jump to the Vikings. Remember the Western Greenland settlement? The settlement that died out from the Little Ice Age? Does that make sense? The Vikings were expert sailors. Much of their culture was based on sailing and exploring. Would they really just sit there and starve because the winters were getting colder and colder? All the worthwhile lands to the east of them were already taken. Wouldn’t they have packed up and moved further west, and further south? Maybe they did. Maybe they made use of the old copper trade portages – which would explain how the Kensington Stone got left in Minnesota.

    Click to access VIKINGWATERWAYMASTER.pdf

    N.B. I confess, when I first ran across the whole idea of the waterway in Minnesota, my first reaction was, “Naaaaa….. seems pretty far fetched.” The more I looked over the evidence and then started examining the satellite photos, I am convinced that someone expended huge amounts of effort to create a workable nexus of trade in western Minnesota. My working theory is that the Sea People were a loose confederacy of ocean and river trading people who were hauling goods (especially copper and probably tin as well) all over the world during the bronze age. The development of iron smelting and working led to a crisis within their culture with the demand for copper dropping steeply. At some point the lake Superior mining and Minnesota shipping center was abandoned as no longer economical and the Sea People were faced with two choices; starve, or conquer. I think they chose conquer but did not quite manage to pull it off. The Phonecians (a name which some people say derives from the word for “red”, as in red-headed) are perhaps the left over remnants of what was once the Sea People. Thousands of years later, the Albans and/or the Norse followed in their wake.

    Speculation on my part — but I have had a lot of practice in wild eyed speculation!

  16. YSW says:

    Just read his couple of days ago. Prevalence of red & blonde haired mummies of Egypt from 1st to 7th century AD.


  17. Gary says:

    Oceanographer and Titanic wreck discoverer, Robert Ballard, has devoted much of the last decade to exploring the Black Sea. He’s located shipwrecks and flooded settlement that are well-preserved due to anoxic conditions in shallow water, but hardly made a dent in what’s waiting to be found. I wouldn’t be surprised that these discoveries will add to knowledge about the Sea Peoples.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    A point has been made that herding and farming lead to “property rights”. Farmers demand and respect property rights. Herders not so much. Herders follow their stock and expect to be able to graze where they will, even if it is a farmers grain field.
    Cain slew Able because he did not keep their fathers flocks out of Cain’s family grain fields. Their blind father praised Able for his good husbandry because the flocks were fat and scolded Cain because his harvest was poor. Lazy Able spent his time under a tree singing songs while Cain and his family labored in the fields. A scene that happens to this very day in Africa between herders and farmers.
    I spent much of my life farming in range country. Stockmen have a different view about land rights then farmers. Farmers own land that they care for. Stockmen own livestock that they care for.
    We even see the long term effects of this in human blood types “O”, “A” and “B” that resulted from long term connections to Hunter Gather, Herder and Farmer tribal occupations caused by food allergies. pg

  19. Power Grab says:

    @ PG Great insight! I wish I’d thought of it!

    Now, as for today’s “sea peoples”, I have often wondered if they weren’t behind the thrust to have free trade between the continents. Wouldn’t they be able to make a lot more money if there were more merchandise and commodities needing to be shipped between continents?

  20. cdquarles says:

    Hi, EM!

    Have you ever looked at skin sections? Well, here is some information that many may not be aware of. Skin color is literally skin deep. With the exception of albinos, ‘white’ people and ‘black’ people have similar amounts of melanin. That’s right, white people do not lack melanin. The difference is in the depth distribution. The darker the skin, the greater percentage of the skin depth shows melanin. Very pale people have melanin limited to the basal layer where the pigment is made. Very dark-skinned people have melanin throughout the depth and some gets included in the keratinized surface.

  21. Ian W says:

    Interesting that you are using haplotypes as it fits with the saying ‘the sea is in your blood’. This reminded me of the famous John Masefield poem “Sea Fever”:

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

    There are definitely those who always end up traveling (my work is where my laptop is) and those that never move from ‘home’. The English ‘West Country’, Ireland and Scotland – the Celtic areas seem to have ‘the sea in their blood’.

  22. p.g.sharrow says:

    Perhaps I should point out that the Celts were not all Redheads, but the Redheads were Celts. There are at least 12 genes involved in pigmentation of humans for skin, eyes and hair. Every race demonstrates a few redheads. The Celtic line seems to have been the most spectacular and numerous ! The legend is rooted in their adventure seeking wanderlust. pg

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jason Calley:

    I’ve heard some of the same things about copper. IMHO it was the Phoenicians who were most likely doing the mining. That rich a source builds empires, so would be kept as secret as possible.

    Now what happens to that trade when, oh, Santorini blows up and destroys the center of empire (who would know) along with the ships and their captains who would know? You are left with myths of “Atlantis” and a collapse of empires.

    Haven’t worked out the possible timelines, nor sketched out the likely players. Would need to have a set of empire collapses, volcanoes, and the pattern of bronze supply to line them up and look for what coincidences might pop.

    That the copper was mined is clear. That some European copper is hard to explain without such a mine is also clear. Then the bronze age collapse, lack of supply, and the swap to iron is also demonstrably real. What isn’t clear is the pattern of cause / effect and what actually happened.

    It’s a bit of a giant “dig here”…


    Well the R type started with just one guy in North Siberia. Then spread out and is now all over the world. Not exactly being “bred out of existence”… Yes, it splits into R1 and R2 and … Then R1 splits into R1a and R1b and… So looking at any of the ever more numerous sub-types has ever smaller areas it covers, but if you look at R in total, or even just the combo of R1a and R1b (that are often present in the same tribes and within relative / clan groups) it’s pretty clear that the set of {Celts, Germanics, Slavs, Italians} pretty much dominate all of Europe, most of North America, and a large chunk of Latin America. (Remembering that the Spanish and their colonies contain a lot of Celt and Germanic and Italian DNA from their historical makeup).

    Is the Redhead Gene fading out? Only as a percent of the population as redheads. In total number of redheads it’s not. And as a genotype, it is persisting though often masked by a dominate darker hair gene. Such as with my family. Wife has brown hair. Her Mom was a redhead, and her daughter is a redhead. Was the redhead “gone” before my daughter was born?…

    (In fact, that redheads have always been a bit rare is what makes it a useful marker for population histories…)

    Similarly, the blue eye color arose something like 20 kya around the Baltic area. It has regularly spread out from there. Yes, very much diluted by the time you get to Mexico or Kenya, yet it is showing up…

    To the extent there is ‘fading out’, it is due to the Romans. They slaughtered all sorts of folks and moved entire nations around. The destruction of Judea and moving the Jews out made Spain about 20% derived of Jews from the Levant. The intrusion of Rome into Germania introduced many non-R1a genetic types. Essentially, the Roman Empire messed up the cleaner pattern from before. Drove many of the R1b Celts out of Gaul, or as slaves moved them to other parts of the empire. Leaving only Ireland and Scotland as more “pure”.

    Per Auroch being huge: Hey, ever try to milk a Mammoth?… in comparison to their usual mammoth hunting, auroch were “easy” ;-)

    Love that SUV visual… “Dear, that mammoth is just too big and hard to ride, can you get a new auroch for me and the kids?…”

    @M. Simon:

    My beard / stash are (were…) red too, but my hair is “dark ash blond” (that looks light brown to me, but that’s the proper color per hair professionals). My kids are one each, blond and redhead. I’ve got both German and Celt ancestors (as do many folks).

    I actually don’t know if I’m R1a or R1b. Dad’s side came via a boat that landed in Virginia in the 1700s and a guy got off who worked Iron. Name was Smith (or Schmidt?) but that would have been applied to anyone working Iron. So given my family history, I’m highly likely to be one of those two, but which one is unclear. The Irish part came via an Irish lady marrying a Smith. Mom’s side has Viking stories and a mix of red and blond hair, but doesn’t provide the Y type.

    That’s all part of my interest in both Germanic and Celt lines. Since my ancestors (other than that one Smith) all came from one side or the other of the English Channel, it’s pretty much all going to be Celt / Germanic one way or the other. Oddly, the Amish part came from Switzerland, yet that history traces back to Amish origins back at the Dutch (then Germany) side of the same English channel…

    Someday (when I can assure it is not shared with anyone but me) I may bet my genome worked out. For now, I’ve got enough and the redhead gene marker is pretty clear as to remote origin.


    Absolutely fascinating link. Thanks!

    A million mummies and a 50%+ percent light hair color. Gosh.

    I’ve often speculated (to myself) that the ancient Egyptians were more likely a “light” type and largely unlike the present Egyptians (that are a dark Arab type in many cases). There are multiple lines of evidence that point that way. My thesis is that, like most empires, they end up conquering and then importing a load of folks who are not of their type, and the eventual demographic impact is to replace the original empire type. (Look at England today and the number of ‘ex-empire’ folks living there. Or France vs North Africa. Or even Rome and the huge influx of non-Romans and what that did to the original Roman type.)

    Those mummies are clear evidence for some of that.

    Though the article says they are from the Roman / Byzantine era ( 0 to 800 AD) so might easily be a large imported population (as the Romans liked to do that…) Some genetic mapping might be helpful…


    So much is under the water, waiting to be found. IMHO, using sonar and ground penetrating radar on the ocean floor could clarify much of history.


    Didn’t know that…. The Redhead gene also gives a very transparent pink skin type. The melanin made is a different type too.

    @Ian W:

    I remember my Mum reciting that poem to me … long ago… There were at least 3 generations of Sailors in her Father, Grandfather, Greatgrandfather….

  24. Bloke down the pub says:

    Celtic mercenaries were working the area, and the Pharaoh was a redhead.

    I hope he used an high SP factor.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    @Bloke Down The Pub:

    Might explain their interest in wigs and makeup…

  26. M Simon says:

    I don’t know a lot about my Mom’s side. (Romania). On my Dad’s side butchers from Lithuania (yeah, Fiddler On The Roof). Dad had the same red stash and beard flecks. The reason we know more about Dad’s side is that other butchers in the family (I was one growing up) did really well in Omaha and were into genealogy. You might have heard of them. Well at least their company.

  27. Jason Calley says:

    Just a quick “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” to you all — or at least to all who observe it. Thanks to E.M. especially for all his work and time, but thanks as well to all you who comment here. I can honestly say that I have been improved by the hours I have spent at this blog. My best to all of you and to yours!

  28. Larry Ledwick says:

    Likewise from here “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” to all.
    Expecting some snow tomorrow night, a bit late for the folks who got sleds but a white Christmas none the less.

  29. Dave says:

    What the National Geo Genographic Project says about my DNA test.

    If you are interested in this sort of thing I suggest you buy the kit. It is incredibly interesting. I found an Irish cousin (now living in France) as a result and was able to go meet him in Ireland which was an amazing experience.

    I’ve always identified as Norwegian/English (Mother) – Scotch/Irish (Father). I’m blond, blue-eyed.

    Its fascinating to read these “deep” histories and try to link together all of these past peoples and their exploits.

    The original test from 2005 identified me as a member of the R1b (M343) haplogroup. I have an updated test (2011) that identified Neanderthal (2.4%) and Denisovan (1.8%) DNA and placed me more in the Germanic than British reference groups which was a shock to me. The updated test says my maternal line is T2C and paternal line is R-DF19.

    Breaking down the DNA markers by region, the new test indicates:
    European 46%
    Mediterranean 37%
    Southwest Asian 17%

    Apparently of the 700K+ folks who have taken part in the study, my deep genetic markers are in less than 0.2% (Maternal) and 0.8% (Paternal) of the current sample set which is interesting.

    Text of the R1b(M343) report:

    Your Y chromosome results identify you as a member of haplogroup R1b, a lineage defined by a genetic marker called M343.This haplogroup is the final destination of a genetic journey that began some 60,000 years ago with an ancient Y chromosome marker called M168.The very widely dispersed M168 marker can be traced to a single individual-“Eurasian Adam.” This African man, who lived some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago, is the common ancestor of every non-African person living today. His descendants migrated out of Africa and became the only lineage to survive away from humanity’s home continent. Population growth during the Upper Paleolithic era may have spurred the M168 lineage to seek new hunting grounds for the plains animals crucial to their survival. A period of moist and favorable climate had expanded the ranges of such animals at this time, so these nomadic peoples may have simply followed their food source. Improved tools and rudimentary art appeared during this same epoch, suggesting significant mental and behavioral changes. These shifts may have been spurred by a genetic mutation that gave “Eurasian Adam’s” descendants a cognitive advantage over other contemporary, but now extinct, human lineages. Some 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans are descendants of the second great human migration out of Africa, which is defined by the marker M89.

    M89 first appeared 45,000 years ago in Northern Africa or the Middle East. It arose on the original lineage (M168) of “Eurasian Adam,” and defines a large inland migration of hunters who followed expanding grasslands and plentiful game to the Middle East. Many people of this lineage remained in the Middle East, but others continued their movement and followed the grasslands through Iran to the vast steppes of Central Asia. Herds of buffalo, antelope, woolly mammoths, and other game probably enticed them to explore new grasslands. With much of Earth’s water frozen in massive ice sheets, the era’s vast steppes stretched from eastern France to Korea. The grassland hunters of the M89 lineage traveled both east and west along this steppe “superhighway” and eventually peopled much of the continent. A group of M89 descendants moved north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country. Though their numbers were likely small, genetic traces of their journey are still found today. Some 40,000 years ago a man in Iran or southern Central Asia was born with a unique genetic marker known as M9, which marked a new lineage diverging from the M89 group. His descendants spent the next 30,000 years populating much of the planet. Most residents of the Northern Hemisphere trace their roots to this unique individual, and carry his defining marker. Nearly all North Americans and East Asians have the M9 marker, as do most Europeans and many Indians.

    The haplogroup defined by M9, K, is known as the Eurasian Clan. This large lineage dispersed gradually. Seasoned hunters followed the herds ever eastward, along a vast belt of Eurasian steppe, until the massive mountain ranges of south central Asia blocked their path. The Hindu Kush, Tian Shan, and Himalaya, even more formidable during the era’s ice age, divided eastward migrations. These migrations through the “Pamir Knot” region would subsequently become defined by additional genetic markers. The marker M45 first appeared about 35,000 to 40,000 years ago in a man who became the common ancestor of most Europeans and nearly all Native Americans. This unique individual was part of the M9 lineage, which was moving to the north of the mountainous Hindu Kush and onto the game-rich steppes of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and southern Siberia. The M45 lineage survived on these northern steppes even in the frigid Ice Age climate.

    While big game was plentiful these resourceful hunters had to adapt their behavior to an increasingly hostile environment. They erected animal skin shelters and sewed weather tight clothing. They also refined the flint heads on their weapons to compensate for the scarcity of obsidian and other materials. The intelligence that allowed this lineage to adapt and thrive in harsh conditions was critical to human survival in a region where no other hominids are known to have survived. Members of haplogroup R are descendants of Europe’s first large-scale human settlers.

    The lineage is defined by Y chromosome marker M173, which shows a westward journey of M45-carrying Central Asian steppe hunters. The descendants of M173 arrived in Europe around 35,000 years ago and immediately began to make their own dramatic mark on the continent. Famous cave paintings, like those of Lascaux and Chauvet, signal the sudden arrival of humans with artistic skill. There are no artistic precedents or precursors to their appearance. Soon after this lineage’s arrival in Europe, the era of the Neanderthals came to a close. Genetic evidence proves that these hominids were not human ancestors but an evolutionary dead end. Smarter, more resourceful human descendants of M173 likely outcompeted Neanderthals for scarce Ice Age resources and thus heralded their demise.

    The long journey of this lineage was further shaped by the preponderance of ice at this time. Humans were forced to southern refuges in Spain, Italy, and the Balkans. Years Later, as the ice retreated, they moved north out of these isolated refuges and left an enduring, concentrated trail of the M173 marker in their wake. Today, for example, the marker’s frequency remains very high in northern France and the British Isles-where it was carried by M173 descendants who had weathered the Ice Age in Spain. Members of haplogroup R1b, defined by M343 are the direct descendants of Europe’s first modern humans- known as the Cro-Magnon people. Cro-Magnons arrived in Europe some 35,000 years ago, during a time when Neanderthals still lived in the region. M343-carrying peoples made woven clothing and constructed huts to withstand the frigid climes of the Upper Paleolithic era. They used relatively advanced tools of stone, bone, and ivory. Jewelry, carvings, and intricate, colorful cave paintings bear witness to the Cro-Magnons’ surprisingly advanced culture during the last glacial age. When the ice retreated genetically homogenous groups recolonized the north, where they are still found in high frequencies. Some 70 percent of men in southern England are R1b. In parts of Spain and Ireland that number exceeds 90 percent. There are many sublineages within R1b that are yet to be defined. The Genographic Project hopes to bring future clarity to the disparate parts of this distinctive European lineage.

  30. Dave says:

    @R. Shearer

    The copper articles are very interesting. Seems like a metallurgical analysis could provide an answer. Perhaps that has been done, I’m still reading.

    When I pulled this area up on Google Maps to see where it was, I saw this:


    A very odd; now submerged, feature that almost looks like a walled area, but it is quite large (>3mi across). I wonder if anyone has looked into this, or is it just another one of those things you see via Google Maps, but when you get up close and look it is nothing out of the ordinary?

    It is also interesting to see what look to be small mounds or pits (hard to tell) around Isle Royale. Perhaps they are kolks as a result of post-glacial flooding like we have in Eastern Washington. A very interesting locale to be sure.

    Searching on sea-level in 4000BCE, I found this page (needs to be taken with more than a grain of salt, but still interesting):


    At first glance this may be more “History Channel” level research (it looks like an alien ship so it MUST BE!!!). So much to read. It goes on an on. An “Irish” colony found by the Spanish in Carolina?


  31. E.M.Smith says:


    Might do it some day. Just not high on my priorities at the moment. (Getting a job is…)

    Interesting write up. But do notice a bit of ‘conflict’ between the things they say.

    On the one hand, they say you are 2.4% Neanderthal, then say the Neanderthal died out due to being out competed. Um, no. They just blended in and got absorbed. Most likely combining a larger brain size with Cro Magnon more supple body and hands in an overall improved product…

    The other common fallacy they indulge in is the typical “Adam” and “Eve” stuff. No, we are not all descended from one Adam (at any given level). That particular GENE is, but not all of you. There is the simple fact that other chromosomes and their genes are from other ancestors (thus your Neanderthal and Denisovan percentages… the same thing holds for those Cro genes too… from multiple Adams and Eves all the way back). Now, for any Y chromosome or mtDNA unit, over time those genes of lower percentage (if of equal value to survival) will slowly go out of existence.


    Say I have a rare Y chromosome. At each generation, some number of my offspring will have only girls. They reduce the percent of that Y in the general pool. After ‘enough’ of those steps, the “last male” to have all girls ends that Y type. Same thing for mtDNA. THE largest (equal selective value) genotype will, over time, dominate since it never gets effectively winnowed via sex linked single-sex pruning. It preferentially will be picked back up in the next round (as, for example, those girls marry guys with the same Y their father had as it is dominant in the pool).

    This is a well know thing in genetics…

    So essentially it’s a math thing that gives us a ‘single Adam’ at some point and it only applies to those sex linked traits / genes; not to the whole genome. So that particular gene / chromosome or mtDNA has a ‘single Adam’ or a ‘single Eve’; but your total gene contents are from thousands of prior “Adams” and “Eves” and it might well be that YOUR major gene set came from some other “Adam” who was standing next to the “one Adam who had your Y in him” at the time. You just picked up that Y from a different path than all your other genes that might have gone through a girl along the way and lost that particular Y in the process.

    Genes move between chromosomes (some much more than others, but they do move) and move around inside a given chromosome (again, some much more than others) and various chromosomes get mixed and matched at each reproductive cycle. You simply can NOT ascribe any net or total package movement to any particular Y or mtDNA marker. (As evidenced by your Neander and other percents; and as also evidenced by those very black Africans with high R1b Y type… that usually moves with redheads and blonds…and very white skin.)

    So while the general public is infatuated with the Genetic Adam and Eve stories; do realize those are just stories and only really pertain to one particular gene set on one chromosome and completely ignore the rest of them and THEIR paths… through all the other thousands of individuals who were standing next to The One Adam or The One Eve; and they are just as much your ancestors as The One…

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