March 11, 2015

SW Iberia shattered by tsunamis every 700 years

The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 is only the latest example of a long chain of destructive tsunamis affecting SW Iberia and NW Africa, which seem now to be recurrent with a approximate regularity of ~700 years for 8 Mw events and ~3500 years for larger 8.7 Mw ones. Those are the conclusions of a geological study in the coast of Cádiz Province (Andalusia) focused on describing one that left a clear mark in the coastal sediment some 4200 years ago.

Benjamin Koster & Klaus Reicherter. Sedimentological and geophysical properties of a ca. 4000 year old tsunami deposit in southern Spain. Sedimentology 2015. Pay per view → LINK [doi:10.1016/j.sedgeo.2014.09.006]

Paper freely available at Researchgate anyhow.


The coastlines around the Gulf of Cádiz were affected by numerous tsunami events damaging infrastructure and causing countless human losses. A tsunami deposit at Barbate–Zahara de los Atunes, Spain, is located at various heights above mean sea level and shows several characteristics indicative of high-energy event deposition. This study uses sedimentology, foraminifera assemblage, magnetic susceptibility, X-ray fluorescence analysis, ground penetrating radar (GPR) to support an interpretation of high-energy deposition and determine the deposit's transport mechanisms and sediment source. Radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence dating of the tsunami deposit reveals ages of ~ 4000 BP and does not support the AD 1755 Lisbon event as suggested in former publications.

I fin this particularly interesting because the city that was for some 1500 years the main one of Atlantic Europe, central in both Megalithism and Bell Beaker, the so-called Castro do Zambujal (Torres Vedras, Portugal), was abandoned c. 1100 BCE after the canal of 10 km. that linked it to the ocean was silted, maybe by one of these devastating tsunamis.

This event, as well as many other details (length of the canal, geographical location beyond The Pillars, Mycenean Greek influence in presumably rival El Argar civilization, number of princely tombs, extension of Megalithism to "Lybia and Tyrsenia"...) fit strangely too well with the narration of Plato about Atlantis, which would then have happened just some 900 years (and not 9000) before his life. With less detail, the Mycenaean presence in Iberia would also correspond well with two of the mythical works of Herakles (Hercules): the conflict with Geryones and the stealing of the Hesperian apples by cheating Atlas. The early Greeks, whose influence in El Argar B is very apparent in the adoption of pithos (jar) burial, would have gone there largely in search of tin, the strategical mineral of the Bronze Age, which was only found in abundance in NW Iberia (and Cornwall but that source was exploited only later, it seems). 


  1. And the Sea People...

    There was three waves, and the first of them, 20 years before the principal, along Meremptah, comes to Egypt from Lybia and the scripts name them "Northern People". The composition: Shardana (Sardinia?), Shekelesh (Sicily?), Ekwesh (too vague similittude with Acheans, maybe and unknown people far from the texts), Lukka (Lycians) and Teresh (Tyrrenia or, maybe, Tharshish).
    Except Lukka, none of them can alocate in eastern Mediterranean Sea. Even sardinians and sicilyans can not alocate in Sardinia or Sicily before 1200 sc crisis so they could arrivate from beyond the Pillars.
    The destruction of Carthago erase the historical memory of the atlantic world. The names of many peoples, cities, nations was erased forever.

    1. On the contrary, most Sea Peoples are clearly identified with Eastern Mediterranean peoples, mostly Greeks, but of course the debate is endless. The Mycenaean Greeks became the Vikings of their age and were even more destructive because there was no state other than Egypt who could withstand them. Not even themselves survived too well to their own belligerance, because they entered the Dark Ages. However, there must have been other Sea Peoples, such as the precursors of the Etruscans, who coalesce in that same time and seem an offshoot of the pre-indoeuropean peoples of the Aegean, which are sometimes labeled collectively as "Pelasgian".

      An intriguing issue is of course the relation between Sardnia's nuraghes and the very similar but less long-lived "motillas" of La Mancha, otherwise related to the Bronze of Levant and El Argar. But as this rather than a true conquest seems rather a semi-desertic marche to secure land routes to the Plateau and particularly to the tin resources beyond it in Galicia, the circumstances seem very different to what we find in Egypt under Ramses II (they are not registered in any other reference, suggesting that Sherden were certainly a peculiar group).

      The Sherden might be Sardinians from the West but they are not easily combined with the bulk of the Sea Peoples. Other groups of Sea Peoples can easily be perceived as Greeks: Ekwesh (Achaeans) and Denyen (Danaoi), Peleset (Cretan Greeks → Philistines), or as other Aegean peoples: Teresh and Tjekker (Trojans, Teucrians). Teresh could hardly be Etruscans because these called themselves Rassena, although it is still possible that Etruscans and Trojans were closely related (Etruscan was spoken in Lemnos historically, just in front of where Troy used to be). The other group that could be from somewhere to the West would be the Sekelesh but uncertain because the presence of the Siculi in Sicily should not be so old, as the Italic invasion of peninsular Italy (i.e. excepted the North) can't be dated before c. 700 BCE.

      In any case, what is clear is that Sea Peoples, other than the oddball Greek incursion reflected in the legends, were less influential in the events taking place in Iberia than in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, maybe even Italy (Etruscans). Much more likely El Argar succumbed to intestine fights, as the culture itself continued as "Post-Argar" city states until Iberian coalescence out of it and related groups, while the only apparent invasion (with clear effects) is the overland one of the Urnfields peoples (Western Indoeuropeans from "Germany", proto-Celts and proto-Lusitanians probably), whose influence is limited to the area around Catalonia initially.

      It's a complex and very mysterious era, I agree, but I would not dare to just blanket everything as "Sea Peoples" because these were obviously: (1) diverse and (2) largely Mycenaean Greeks.

    2. The relation of peoples that I gave are not "Sea People", but "Northern People" in the text of Meremptah. In this first wave only ekwesh (in a very vague linguistic conection) can be relationed with a greek ethnic. In the same way I dont argue that sardinians could come from Sardinia: Probably they arrive just then, like philistines to Gaza from Crete. The names of the people after 1200 ac it´s not the same that before: Goths were un northern Europe on I century, beyond the Danube on III century and in Spain on V century...

      I argue that it was a domino effect; the first wave of people from western mediterranean (even beyond the pillars as the egyptians priests says to Solon), and the next waves agregates people of attacked civilizations (specially in the Egean Sea). Curiously Athens it wasnt destroyed in 1200 ac crisis (there are not jonians or similar between Sea People).

    3. "I dont argue that sardinians could come from Sardinia".

      Where from then? All that Nuraghic thing is older than the Shardana and deeply rooted in the island, even the motillas are probably older. Furthermore Sardinians are one of the most genetically conservative peoples of Europe, if not the most, being clearly rooted in the First Neolithic with almost no extras.

      "Northern People", "Goths were un northern"...

      What? Northern for Egyptians means from across the sea, Europeans or even some West Asians.

      "Curiously Athens it wasnt destroyed in 1200 ac crisis (there are not jonians or similar between Sea People)".

      The term Ionian is Classical, there was no such distinction in the Mycenaean period. Athenians and other Greeks. Menestheus, King of Athens, was part of the Achaean/Danoi (ethnic Greek) coalition against Troy. Homer almost never uses the term "Hellenes" but rather Achaean (598), Danaoi (138) or Argive (182). All three seem to mean in Homer "Greek" rather than pertaining to any particular region or kingdom withing Greece.

      I think that there is a very strong case to equate the Denyen with the ethnic Greeks or a major fraction of them, as in the Homeric use of Achaean.

      Ionian is a term that appears later on and seems to imply some sort of "Dorian invasion" which spared Athens and most of the islands but not the Peloponnese (save the mountainous central region of Arcadia).

      Soon after 1190 the Mycenaean states collapse. This can't be 1190 yet, because they were attacking Troy in 1180 and the Levant and Egypt in 1178-75, so I'd argue for a slightly later but related date. Probably, much as Ugarit finds itself helpless after sending its fleet to fight the Greeks at Lycia and its army to fight the Muskhi (?) in Anatolia, the Greek cities found themselves defenseless after sending 1800 ships full of soldiers to raid the Eastern Mediteranean in that decade but suffering major loses against Egypt. That military vacuum was filled by some other actor, which may well have been Epirotes/Aetolians (Dorians) or, some suggest, Illyrian raiders.

      Athens seems to have survived but it does not mean that Athens alone was the cause of the Mycenaean collapse. Or are you implying that per chance?

      Not only Athens avoided destruction, the Ionian islands in general did, as did Elia. The most affected regions by the Mycenaean collapse were Boeotia, Argolis and Messenia.

    4. -Don´t confuse the names with the people. The andalusies weren´t arabs but hispanian mostly. The 90% of nuragic civilization was sardinian in the modern sense of the word, but them elite may be from other place unknown for the texts and the DNA.

      -Ionian it´s, probably, a pre-greek term: It´s etimology it´s dark but exists other terms in other languages equivalent: Javan, Yavana, etc. Even in the mythological history of India appears a Yavana Kingdom at west but inside Asia (protogreeks. maybe?).

      -The term "greek" it´s like "spanish", a construction that gather peoples very different. Even in classic age a big pierce of people ih Greece speaks pelasgian, lelegian, etc. In "Black Athina" Martin Bernal finds lot of words in the elite lexical not indoeuropean. The greek thing it´s more abigarrated and confuse that we learned. Denyen it´s so greek like Daneo was greek: He came from Egypt or Palestine, surely doesn´t speak a indoeuropean language.

      Personally I think tha before the dorian invasion only a 50% or less people from Greece speaks greek. Before French Revolution 50% of people doesn´t speak french: basque, occitaine, bretonic, german, aquitanian, catalonian, etc.

    5. Archaeologically the Nuraghes are linked to SW Europe (something between North Italy, Corsica, Balearic Islands, Occitania and the Iberian Peninsula) there's no reason to think otherwise, is there? In the case of Etruscans we have legends, language spread, genetics (more so of the ancient elites than of modern Tuscans) and even aesthetics (hairstyles Minoan style for example), but in the Sardinian case we have nothing.

      Re. Ionian: you may be right. The term appears once in linear B, it's also mentioned in the Iliad once seemingly to mean Athenians. I accept Javan but disregard Yavana and the "proto-Greek" notion. Proto-Greeks almost certainly originated in the Balcans from the remnants of early Kurgan invasions: either Vucedol or Cotofeni cultures.

      "Greek", actually "Hellenic", is not at all like "Spanish". We see that very clearly in the conflict that arose on whether Macedonians could or not take part in the Olympic Games. It was finally settled that Macedonians were Greeks (they spoke a dialect of Greek) and hence the could take part. Instead "Spanish" is a political term meaning the subjects of the homonym state. Greek is therefor an ethnonym, while Spanish is a the legal quality of subject of a multiethnic state (even if the core Spaniards or Greater Castilians may confuse both things, they should not). Greece was never a unified state in Antiquity: their identity stemmed from true ethnic affinity: language, customs, religion even.

      Of course that ethnic identity had been imposed by invaders some eight or so centuries before the time we are discussing, or even less in cases like Crete, so there were still pockets of other ethnicities like Pelasgians. And of course classical Greek (not so much Mycenaean Greek) has lots of substrate loanwords. If what you mean that commoner Greeks and commoner Pelasgians were more related among them than the former with their aristocrats, that's probably true, but irrelevant because it is language and self-identification what defines an ethnicity, not blood. Aristocrats may keep the relation of their ancestors for centuries but commoners seldom have a memory of any such ancestor older than a century: they lack "blood memory" and if language and culture is also taken from them, then they can't retain their ancestral identity anymore. That's how elite domination works in the aspect of ethnogenesis.

      Let's not get overly convoluted on this. After all the period we are discussing is just one or two centuries: ethnic identities should not have changed much in that short period.

      "Denyen it´s so greek like Daneo was greek: He came from Egypt or Palestine, surely doesn´t speak a indoeuropean language".

      Uh? You must mean Danaus or Danaos. Those heraldic etymologies are worth nothing, just meant to confer prestige. If they'd be true you'd be chatting with a descendant of Hector, Prince of Troy, himself. But that's just impossible.

      Myths have part of true, more so in a society with oral transmission, but let's not forget who pays the heralds and the griots and what those who pay expect. So heralds and bards made up some things and that's particularly true in the case of eponyms and other prestige genealogies: once there are no more certain or even suspected facts the artist has to be creative in order to create a good product worth the coin he's paid for.

      "I think tha before the dorian invasion only a 50% or less people from Greece speaks greek".

      Most unlikely. The Greek elites had already been in power for a thousand years.

      "Before French Revolution 50% of people doesn´t speak french"...

      Most spoke some. And in urban and educated contexts nearly all did. Let's not exaggerate. Depending on your profession, status and education, the people of the past often knew several languages. Only one was usually native for them, of course.

    6. The closest languages to greek are iranian, indian, phrigyan and armenian, not thracian, illyrian, baltic or german. Probably they start the migration in the heart of Asia (Andronovo Culture?) and came to Europe around 2000 bc, at the sime time that indians and iranians brokes or new anatolians penetrates inside Turkey.

      Several heroical myths reflects a "maryannu": Young hero, not relative with the king, that arose the power making him a service. Jason, Heracles, Perseus...

      Personallly I think that eolians or ionians wasn´t greeks, that Greece became greek in the middle bronze age with myceneans. The eolian, ionian dialects would be the result of the introduction of proto-greek language over.

      The term spanish it´s geographical, not politic. Even when the peninsula holds several kingdoms was "Spain" for the foreigners because they saw a geographical continuum from the roman Hispania to that present. Before XV century Spain was so unificated like Greece before Alexander. For the monk that writes the Leabhar Gabbala, it was a unificated concept.

      Curiosly you denies that commoners trascends behind the social structure in the case of pelasgians or ionians (I think they were the same people) but you argue the pervivence of a vasconic language several thousand years.

    7. When the words for the elite lexical (religion, war, power) in greek are semitic or camitic and not indoeuropean, that means that Danaeus was more than a empty myth.

    8. "The closest languages to greek are iranian, indian, phrigyan and armenian, not thracian, illyrian, baltic or german".

      I cannot agree with that assessment. There's a lot of debate on how the internal IE tree is structured (some points are more clear than others) but of all you say I can only support the Armenian affinity (and therefore Phrygian but maybe also Thracian - not much is known of these languages anyhow). In addition it is possible that it is also close to Albanian as well.

      I see no relationship with Indo-Iranian whatsoever and the fact that Greek is centum and IA is satem should underline that (although it's not enough in itself).

      "The term spanish it´s geographical, not politic".

      Not true. Not today. That was true in the past, before Philip II (when Portugal is added to the Habsburg crown and the term "Spain" becomes more common in a political sense) and/or the Bourbon dynasty (when the state of Spain is formally constituted). Afterwards the purely geographical term for the peninsula is Iberia, while Spain is reserved for the political (i.e. excluding Portugal, Gibraltar, Andorra, including the Balearic and Canary islands, colonial territories, Vall d'Aran). It is a term that has changed meaning in the early Modern Age.

      "Curiosly you denies that commoners trascends behind the social structure in the case of pelasgians or ionians (I think they were the same people) but you argue the pervivence of a vasconic language several thousand years".

      Not sure what you mean but I understand that Greece and parts of the rest of the Balcans (Serbia notably) suffered an invasion c. 5000 BCE, of probably Halafian roots, that altered the ethnic composition (dominant language and identity, surely also other cultural changes). The peoples of Vinca-Dimini, as well as others with Anatolian connections of later times (Minoan, Cycladic) surely belonged to this other macro-ethnicity that can well be assimilated to Pelasgians and could be related to Etruscans. It's a complex scenario because the Adriatic Balcans remained "Vasconic" (Cardium-Impressed tradition) and the Eastern Balcans ("Thrace") experience later a Danubian wave (Boian-Maritza, related to Cucuteni) that was also surely "Vasconic" of the Central European type and probably relied on the "commoner" substrate. Only the central strip of the Balcans (the Greece-Serbia axis) can be considered consistently "Pelasgian" but there are zones around it where overlap and further complexity abound.

      "When the words for the elite lexical (religion, war, power) in greek are semitic or camitic and not indoeuropean, that means that Danaeus was more than a empty myth".

      That would be interesting if true. Can you document it?

    9. "Black Athina" - Martin Bernal

  2. I'm looking at this fascinating issue again and this is what I gather:

    1. In 1278 BCE the Shardan (ŠʔRDN) attacked the Delta. Then they joined Egypt and fought for it at Kadesh. Not just that, after Kadesh they were placed by Egypt as defenders of the Northern border and also became part of the Pharaoh's guard.

    2. In 1028 BCE The "nine bows" attacked the Western Delta. They included the Libyan realm and their local allies the Meshwesh, as well as the Shardan, Lukka (RKW), Shekelesh (ŠʔKRŠʔ), Teresh (TʔWRŠʔ) and Eqwesh (JQʔWʔŠʔ). These last were circumcised, so they could not be Achaeans, as has been claimed but probably an Afroasiatic people (I speculate "Jacobites" = Hebrews?) They are said to be Northerners "from all the lands", i.e. not at all homogeneous. The attack was coincident with campaigns by Hittites and Israelites in the East (Retenu = Palestine).

    3. In 1178, after the conquest of Alashiya (Cyprus) and Amurru (North Syria, destruction of Ugarit), the following are mentioned fighting against Egypt in the Battle of Djahy (= Retenu = Palestine): Shekelesh, Tjeker (ṮʔKʔR), Denjen (DʔJNJW), Peleset (PRSṮ) and Weshesh (WʔŠʔŠʔ). I think that the association of the Denjen with the Danaoi (= Achaeans = Mycenaean Greeks) is straightforward, particularly because of the surrounding events in Cyprus and Ugarit and the near-synchronism with the Trojan War and the other events that brought an end to the Hittite Empire. I would also think that the Peleset were Greek or Greek-related (Pelasgians?) and of course the seed of later Philistines. The Tjeker could well be Teucrians (i.e. Dardanians). I don't dare to speculate about the Weshesh.

    4. In 1175, in a second attempt to subdue Egypt by the same coalition, they also include the Teresh (Trojans?) and the Shardan.

    The Shardan are believed to have got (later on) a fortress city in North-Central Palestine, known as Sisera or Harosheth Hagoyim (= Forge of the Nations), a cavalry (chariots) base under the sovereignty of King Jabin of Canaan (based in Hazor, Galilee, near Syria), according to the Book of Judges of the Bible.

    I think that there is evidence to support that the Shardan were Nuraghic Sardinian mercenaries who were established in the Eastern Mediterranean as semi-autonomous force since at least 1300 BCE (they are also believed to have attacked Crete), what seems to fit with both the apogee of the Nuraghic civilization and the establishment of the "motillas" in Spain. They were probably allied (and ethno-linguistically related, i.e. Vasconic) with the proto-Iberians of El Argar and Bronze of Levante and maybe this could be related with what Plato says about "Atlanteans" threatening the peoples of the Mediterranean (or maybe Eastern Mediterranean) in alliance with Libyans (but that "Athenians" defeated them). If so the threat would have been focused c. 1208 and the Greek ("Athenian") victory would have been related to the many Achaean campaigns that followed (Troy, Cyprus, Ugarit, late Sea Peoples vs Egypt) and would have not been as simple as Plato narrates, although it may have implied (it probably did) campaigns in the West, whose tin resources were as strategical as oil is today.

    In fact I suspect that these Western campaigns and maybe the later tsunami (also mentioned by Plato), caused the disruption of the tin routes and forced the adoption of a steel metallurgy, earlier only practiced by Hittites and some peoples of Niger. The Shardan may well have been more than mercenaries and, much like Vikings, also traders, bringing tin to the Eastern Mediterranean (copper was and is much more abundant).

    As for the Shekelesh (ŠʔKRŠʔ) and other mysterious peoples, I don't dare to assign them a clear geography and ethnic identity.

    1. As a side note, I'm persuaded that the name Sardinia (Sardìgna and variants in Sardinian language) is the same as the common fish sardine, whose Latin form "sardina" fits perfectly with a Basque (or otherwise Vasconic) etymology: sarda (school of fish) + -in (apocope of the verb "egin" = to make, to do, common in agglutinative forms) + -a (intr. nominative sing. declension, equivalent to the article "the").

      Sarda itself seems to be related to sare (net) and the verb sartu (enter, get in, also penetrate). Another meaning of sarda is pitchfork (obviously from the penetrate, get in meaning of the verb sartu). Even the popular Catalan dance sardana, similar to other Pyrenean variants, seems to have this same etymology (maybe as simple as "sar dana": "everyone get in", what pretty much reflects the nature of the dance).

      So, in brief, I think that "sardina" (pronounced "sardinja" in Basque, just as Sardìgna is in Sardinian) means "school-maker" [fish], what is pretty much a great description of this common fish surely harvested since at least Cardium Pottery times. There are many other Basque-Sardinian links, from paleo-Sardinian language remnants to similitudes in carnival, and all that, together with the recent genetic evidence on the quite homogeneous genetic identity of Early European Farmers (very similar to modern Sardinians) makes me think that Vasconic was the language family of European Neolithic (excepted Eastern Europe).

    2. Man, I'm hooked now with the Sea Peoples (had not look at the matter in years). The Shekelesh could not be Siculi, because they were circumcised too. They must be another Semitic tribe.

      I'm intrigued about the Meshwesh. Even if only mentioned in the Nine Bows attack, they seem to have held lands in the Delta after the collapse of Egypt. Most sources claim they were Libyans from Cyrenaica but the name is very similar to the Muskhi or Moschoi, a people arrived to the Caucasus at the collapse of the Hittite Empire and that would equate to Phrygio-Armenians. Flavius Josephus did claim that they were the same people. In the time of the Nine Bows war, they'd be still in Thrace most likely.

      I'm also coming to accept that the Teresh should be Trojans/Etruscans, surely the same ethnicity.

      So basically we have three "waves" of Sea Peoples, reconstruction:

      1. 1278 BCE - Sardinians (Lycians are also mentioned but in separate records, surely unrelated and less important yet).

      2. 1208 BCE - Nine Bows coalition: Hititte Empire, Lybia, Israelis and other Semites (Ekwesh and Shekelesh), Tracians (Muskhi), Lycians and Sardinians

      3. 1178-75 BCE - Achaean-led coalition after plundering Cyprus and Amurru: Achaeans (Danaoi), Teucrians = Dardanians, Pelasgoi/Philistines, Shekelesh Semites and the mysterious Weshesh. In the second phase (Delta), the Sardinians and the Etruscans/Trojans joined them.

      Nobody seems to know who were the Weshesh.

    3. Uh-oh:

      The Great Karnak inscription of the Pharaoh Merneptah also states that at least three of the Sea Peoples, the Ekwesh, Sheklesh and Sherden, were circumcised.


      This seems to imply that the Sherden could not be Sardinians. Unless traditions have changed A LOT! And I see no reason for Sardinians stopping circumcision if they originally used it because Romans didn't care, Phoenicians were surely circumcised and Christianity did not discourage the practice either.

      They couldn't be from Sardis either. We are surely before another Semitic (or otherwise Afroasiatic, maybe Berber) people.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. This does bring to mind the Homeric epic, the Odyssey and an episode commonly referred to as the Cretan Lie. When in the court of Alcinous in the land of the Phaeacians, Odysseus deceives his hosts by stating that he was a Cretan serving under the command of Idomeneus. After the Trojan War, and desiring new adventures, he led a group of men on a raid into Egypt. They would raid the delta but upon reaching the Egyptian capital were immediately defeated. Odysseus begged the Egyptian king for mercy and remained on Egyptian soil for seven years.


      The author also argues for the Teresh being Cretans from Turiso (Tylissos), not far from Knossos (modern Heraklion). Not sure if I can agree but the idea is intriguing.

      But what is really interesting is that Ulysses is said to have taken part in the attack of Egypt AFTER the destruction of Troy. This makes impossible that the Teresh could be Trojans but fits perfectly with the notion of Troy VIIa being the Homeric Troy, destroyed c. 1280 BCE, just years before the Sea Peoples campaign against Cyprus, Syria and Egypt (and very possibly also the Hittite Empire, which collapsed around that time leaving little documentary evidence).

      As for the Shardana circumcision, I wonder if they just adopted the practice AFTER becoming mercenaries of Egypt and being deployed in Retenu.

    6. From Troy to Ugarit:

      The Pelasgians (= Peleset?) in Homer are associated with Thessaly, Epirus and Crete (and could well be leftovers of the black-beige pottery cultures of ultimately Anatolian or Halafian roots, that include Vinca, Dimini-Rakhmani, Can Hasan and probably Minoans themselves). They are said to have been allied with Troy. That is also the case of the Teucrians or Dardanians (Tjeker?) and other peoples from Asia Minor.

      It would seem that either the Egyptians misidentify the peoples from beyond the sea (and all or most were Greeks after all) of that a new coalition was formed after the destruction of Troy around the Achaeans (Danaoi), which also included Pelasgians and Dardanians, the mysterious Weshesh and some probably Semitic (circumcised) group named Shekelesh.

      After being stopped by the Egyptians they got help from Sardinian (Shardan) and Etruscan (Teresh) groups to raid Egypt proper but failed again, as the "lie" of Odysseus tells us (which is probably the truth, as Calypso's story is implausible).

    7. If we search Sea People between the names that the history knows, the result always will be a central or eastern mediterranean location, because the texts are roman, greeks, egyptians or phoenician. The names of people from western mediterranean and beyond the Pillars doesnt appears, so we can not used them. It´s like analize DNA from peoples that cremates or from peoples now exctinted.

    8. About cinrcumcission: On the historic knowledge we assimilate circumcission to semits but the egyptians do it too and maybe other peoples from North Africa. The afroasiatic family of languages connects the semits with the green Sahara before the unification of Nilus.
      I particulary use the name "Setits" to gather semits, camits and berberians, because I think that before V millenium BC there was an only ecotope from Atlas to Arabia, that the birth of Egypt broke.

    9. Sorry, my english it´s not enough to argue better, but if I write in spanish would be not appropiate with the other readers.

    10. You're doing pretty well with your English, Geryon. Don't worry. If there's something you can't really express in English, feel free to move to Spanish (or other Western Romance or Basque), I'll make a synthesis in English if need be.

      "The names of people from western mediterranean and beyond the Pillars doesnt appears, so we can not used them. It´s like analize DNA from peoples that cremates or from peoples now exctinted".

      If the Egyptians (or others) would be in touch with them and they would have been sizable in number, we should find them in the records. That's why I'm so fascinated about the Weshesh, who are not identified. Anyhow it's possible that they were subsumed under the category "Shardan", as all would have been ethnically similar and even politically allied probably.

      Much as Egyptians talk of the Denyen as a single people or the Hittites of the Ahhiyawa (both surely meaning "Greeks"), they (the Egyptians only) would talk of the "Shardan", meaning "Hesperians" or Western Peoples of Vasconic languages, among which the Sardinians were surely the most prominent from an Egyptian perspective. However... who were the Weshesh? They could well be a forgotten Balcanic people but they could also be something else (Atlanteans?)

      "About cinrcumcission: On the historic knowledge we assimilate circumcission to semits but the egyptians do it too and maybe other peoples from North Africa".

      It is indeed possible, but my point is that they should not be Europeans or even Indoeuropean Anatolians, Hurrians, etc. It's an "African" custom spread mostly by Afroasiatics and Nilo-Saharans.

      Said that, if the Shekelesh were Berber, then how do you explain they were active in Syria along with the Greeks?

      "I particulary use the name "Setits""

      Afroasiatic is the usually accepted term, with a linguistic basis. They probably spread in the Epipaleolithic period (Capsian, African influences in Natufian, particularly Harifian), although Semitic expansion proper is most likely to have happened only c. 4000-3500 BCE from a Harifian-derived so-called Circum-Arabian Pastoralist Complex.

    11. A further note about the Teresh: the main sourthernmost tribe of Illyrians was known as Taulanti (rougly in Central-South modern Albania), which could fit the Hittite name of Tauresi (R<>L confusion seems common in all those ancient languages), usually attributed to Etruscans. This would make sense if we accept the local development theory about ancient Illyrians, what seems to be supported by some relationship between ancient Illyrian and modern Albanian and between this one and Greek (all very arguable, I know).

      Just a wild hunch, the Etruscan hypothesis is also valid, maybe stronger, as Illyrians are not documented before the 5th century BCE.

    12. Wikipedia has a serious entry on the Meshwesh ( and it is clearly attested that they were Libyans (i.e. Berbers) from beyond Cyrenaica (i.e. NW Africa). This I think is important.

      They established the 21st-23rd dynasties, which controlled the Delta in feudal manner in the Third Intermediate Period, before they were subjugated by the Assyrians. Meanwhile Upper Egypt was ruled by Nubian dynasties. Eventually all Egypt fell to Persia c. 664 BCE.

      I notice that Egyptians sometimes referred to Berbers as Tjehenu, which bears some resemblance to Tjeker.

      In any case it would seem that Berbers of the time did not yet practice circumcision, as it is not attested in any case. Similarly Berbers are about the only Afroasiatic group where female genital mutilation of any form (another Egypt-centric practice not at all dissimilar) just does not exist. So I'll persist in the idea that all circumcised Sea Peoples were either Semites or otherwise heavily influence by Egyptian culture.

    13. Eventually all Egypt fell to Persia c. 664 BCE.

      Egypt fell to Persia in 525 BC, not 664 BC. 664 BC is the year of the beginning of the 26th dynasty (the Saite dynasty) of Egypt, which was a native dynasty. Psamtik I is the first pharaoh of that dynasty.

    14. OK, my bad.

      Weren't you banished? I don't recall the exact reason but I remember to have been forced to ban you...

    15. OK, I won't post in your blog again.

    16. No es que no pueda argumenta suficientemente en inglés, es que lo hago muy lentamente y soy persona de dedos rápidos. Me desespero :(

      I think that you oversize the vasconic sphere in ancient times. When the peoples are unconnected the languages and family of languages goes to disgregation: It´s a linguistic rule. In Papua there are 500, in Brasil several hundred, in India close to 1000... Before megalithic expansion probably it was hundreds of differents languages in Western Europe, maybe 1000 or more. Along the centuries there is a "natural selection" of peoples, cultures, ethnics, DNA, etc that goes to the uniformization that distorsionate our vision of the past. I think that the basque it´s not the residual evidence of a pan-vasconic world, just a survival of a western family of languages that dissapears when megaliths, bell beaker, kurgans, etc, etc, were conquering and assimilating peoples. Without a literature and other structures a language decompose in several centuries and, in 5-6 milleniums it´s almost impossible detect the origin. It´s like the DNAmt: Only a generation with all the descendents male and dissapears forever.

      In the Caucassus there are 2 docens of diferent languages of several families (even some isolated). All whole Europe was thus 6-7 thousand years ago.

    17. Sure: unconnected languages tend to diverge. However:

      1. They family roots are not so easily lost, Afroasiatic is believed to be from some 12,000 years ago. That's about the limit of family recognition but Vasconic would only be some 8-9,000 years old.

      2. The speed of divergence is not uniform. It's largely increased when a language expands (substrate influence) and when there is intense interaction with unrelated languages (adstrate). Languages that remain mostly in the same place are very conservative (examples: Latvian: the most conservative IE language alive, Icelandic: the most conservative branch of Scandinavian Germanic).

      When a lot of adult new speakers are incorporated very fast, the transformation can be astonishing. The transition from Latin to Vulgar Latin (the true proto-Romance) is one of those cases and most probably happened in the few decades when Rome expanded in peninsular Italy, prior to the Punic wars. The adult brain is just not good enough in most cases to learn the language properly, let alone easily, so pronunciation vices, borrowings from the native languages, and simplification of grammar are standard transformations that happen in such cases. Another excellent example of creolization is English, which, additionally, was almost (but not quite) transformed into a new dialect of French by the Normans.

      Vasconic had a rapid expansion in the early Neolithic but mostly it was a demographic expansion (with genetics almost identical to those of modern Sardinians), so there was limited room for creolization. But most importantly: once it became established and began receeding rather than expanding further, it could not change so fast.

      3. Dialect continuum and/or sprachbund keeps languages from diverging. Clearly there were a lot of interactions in the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Vasconic sphere, which may have even rearranged some languages but also kept the communication avenues open.

      4. It's possible that some languages were lingua franca and had an homogenizing effect, even replacing the local dialects in some places.

      5. It's also possible that with conquests one Vasconic dialect replaced another. This we see often to happen easily between Romances, for example. But an even more intriguing case is that of Berber, which is just too homogeneous to be a 12-10.000 year old family. Obviously Berber was re-homogenized, maybe with the pre-Roman kingdoms or maybe by some other means.

      So I don't think I'm overstating anything: the fast divergence of Indoeuropean is caused mostly because of its expansionism, which leads to creolization and accelerated divergence. It can't be a standard reference for all languages in all circumstances.


    18. ...

      "In the Caucassus there are 2 docens of diferent languages of several families (even some isolated)".

      The difference of the Caucasus are caused mostly because it has become a refuge for three families. These three families were surely separated since very long ago. NW Caucasian probably included Hattic and other languages of the Anatolian and maybe Balcans area, NE Caucasian surely included Hurrian and maybe even Sumerian. Kartvelian is the most mysterious of all but may have arrived hitchhiking the Indoeuropean expansion southwards from the Steppe (or whatever).

      "All whole Europe was thus 6-7 thousand years ago".

      No, no. It's not comparable at all. The Caucasus is a fossil of West Asia (and maybe the Steppe in the case of Kartvelian) in the Neolithic. West Asia remained apparently quite stable since pre-Neolithic times, allowing for a large array of linguistic families to live long enough to reach history or even present day. Instead Europe was almost systematically colonized by a the descendants of a bunch of farmers from Thessaly with a well defined genetic signature very similar to that of Sardinians. Only remote areas like the Baltic or Eastern Europe remained out of that process. It is indeed possible that there was something more than Vasconic but the trend would have been for some Vasconic dialects to become dominant and all the rest (Vasconic or pre-Vasconic) to vanish.

    19. Why Europe it´s different to the rest of the world? It´s a regular law in linguistic: Without common social structures, the languages multipling for hundreds and thousands. A community exchange wives with several communities and the child learns his father´s language with his mother accent: In 4-5 generations the original language have been changed, in 30-40 generations it´s other different. For that in Papua exists 500 languages.

    20. There are no "regular linguistic laws", that's a myth. It's not just about Europe anyhow.

      However it seems true that, while Europe was dramatically affected by the Neolithic wave first, probably the Megalithic wave later (to be confirmed, partly derived from the Neolithic one in any case) and by the finally by Indoeuropean/Kurgan wave, West Asia remained somewhat more stable: enough for pockets of ancient families to persist in the edges (mostly Caucasus with its mountain "refuge" peculiar nature that we also see in Europe: Pyrenees for Basque, Alps for Ligurian).

      "the child learns his father´s language with his mother accent"

      I also dispute it. Children learn the language and accent that is spoken in their community. IF the family speaks a different language inside the household (invariably a cul-de-sac situation), the child will grow bilingual. Etc. It's not so much about families but about villages and districts.

      What may happen often in transitional scenarios is that a community speaks language A but the elites speak (primarily) language B. In those cases, the community will be forced sooner than later to learn language B. That's elite domination. Again it's not an iron rule: in some cases, particularly when the new elites reorganize a previous prestigious one (for example Germanics in the post-Roman states, or early Semitics in Mesopotamia), language A (presumably already spoken by most commoners) may persist and language B vanish. But the normal thing is that elite domination forces the masses to change language in favor of that of the dominant elites, sometimes by force by mostly by mere convenience (languages are tools after all).

      In Papua there's no elite domination and there's been no Neolithic replacement that we can track. I don't think it applies unless you mean to compare it with the pre-Neolithic situation maybe. Current linguistic understanding anyhow proposes some 15 or 17 families - there are almost 1000 individual "languages" but we are not considering such level of distinction, are we? Let's focus on families, OK? The reason why Papua is so linguistically diverse is because no or only few homogenization processes (demographic or aristocratic expansions) have taken place in the last many many thousand years. That's totally NOT the case of Neolithic Europe and later times.

    21. Your vision of all those phenomenons is very static. You have an unfinished faith in social structures that lives aling the milleniums and that´s not exact. The neolithic wave? Not, the hundreds waves: Probably hundreds of differents groups, surely docens of differente languages that changes every 20-30 generations (not writing, not school...) becaming missunderstanding for the descendents. To have the same pottery it´s not to have the same language.
      Even after the neolithic it was surely 500, 600 or more human comunities, every one with it´s own language (different 20 generations after and before). You´re tryng to enclose the chaos in a straight line. Good luck with that!

    22. Genetics dixit: Linear Pottery, Cardium Pottery, etc. peoples, from many different places of Europe, were all "Sardinian" (Sardinian-like). I guess you're just not familiar with the archaeogenetic research of the last years.

      In essence, there was: (1) a major demographic expansion from Thessaly that replaced the Paleoeuropeans. Except (2) probably in the Atlantic facade (needs further research but makes total sense) where the secondary wave(s) implicated more admixed peoples (Basque-like or Iberian-like) who later also expanded over the "Sardinian-like" or "Thessaly-rooted" Neolithic. Finally (3) there is an Indoeuropean layer bringing genetics from Eastern Europe and Siberia. In SE Europe, further West Asian inputs should also be factored for but won't bother with the details here.

      So this is just 2-3 linguistic families. Not "hundreds" or "thousands". The language doesn't change every 20 generations: that's ridiculous! From Latin to any modern Romance there are at least 200 generations! And that one was a quickly expanding language... Castilian Spanish has not diverged in 500 centuries in spite of accelerated expansion and its mutual intelligibility remains almost perfect (except for some Andalusian dialects maybe which may have never really been Castilian but a some sort of hybrid with Mozarabic), even Sephardic is perfectly understandable to any modern Spanish-speaker (even if it sounds archaic and may include a few exotic words from Hebrew). Languages do not evolve that fast and anyhow languages do not evolve uniformly nor is divergence their only tendency (convergence via sprachbunds and borrowings from common sources, such as a lingua franca, is also active). Furthermore related languages replace each other at least as easily as they replace unrelated ones. Finally there is one concept that is known as dialect continuum, forced by the need of mutual intelligibility with neighbors, that forcibly limits the number of fragments a language may produce. Pre-unified German for example was that type of language gradated in a continuum from the Alps to the Belt. Dutch and German, even if they belong to different dialectal groups (Middle and High German), are pretty much mutually intelligible, just like Spanish and Italian are. As a native speaker of Spanish I can understand with only some difficulty every major romance except Romanian (although not classical Latin). Languages don't evolve so fast, even when they do evolve rather fast.

  3. Maju, I have often thought about all that: how come Romance languages are still mutually intelligible after a 1500 yrs evolution since Vulgar Latin? Do languages change faster (or slower) when the different groups are more isolated or when there's no "official", more fixed/written language? Could Mycenean Greek and Hittite speakers understand each other? If they couldn't, should the origins of Indoeuropean language expansions be earlier than we think?

    1. Anatolian (incl. Hittite) belongs to a very different branch of Indoeuropean, so nope, but Mycenaean Greek may have mutually intelligible to some extent with other Balcanic IE languages. Hard to say because we just do not have a corpus on which to judge for such ancient periods.


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