1 September, 2008
While there are always a variety of reasons that I neglect to update this blog, the latest one may hold some interest to the readers here. I’ve even started a new blog to go along with my new fad. As an aside, most of the traffic to this blog consists of people searching for an image of a whale, so the subset of readers who may be interested in this new blog is exceptionally small.
For reasons too dull to go into I started writing some short stories based around the year 1000 BCE. I’m trying to emulate a sort of sword-and-sorcery type genre with added bits and pieces from biblical and archaeological books I’ve read. In particular I wanted to show a world of pre-monotheism in Israel and the interlinks between the various cultures of the time. 1000 BCE was an interesting time in the world – the great empires who had dominated trade a few centuries before had mostly fallen with only Egypt continuing in any real way. Egypt had become isolationist again and no longer held the Levantine coast. The Hittite Empire had fallen completely to be replaced by several Neo-Hittite regimes, each small and localised, although occasionally growing large enough to threaten their neighbours.
Troy had fallen to the Greeks, and the Palace civilisations of Mycanae and Knossos were long gone. The Bronze age was ending and the Iron age was beginning. Indeed it was perhaps the collapse of the trade system and the scarcity of copper that led to iron being used more and the techniques refined to produce steel. The Sea Peoples had invaded in the 1200’s BCE and for many years it was thought that they caused the collapse of the major empires. This view is now disputed but a large migration of people may indeed have tipped the balance against the ruling powers. The ruins of Hattusa for instance (the capital of the Hittite Empire) showed destruction of the Palace and Temple, but little change to the common folks houses. Was revolution a factor in the collapse of trade?
Biblical tradition places King David around this time as well. However archeology reveals a very different Israel from the one depicted in the Bible. Rather than a large well established Kingdom (like it would become centuries later when the Bible was written down), Judah in particular was made up of small villages and wandering nomads. Jerusalem was hardly more than a village. The Philistines had moved in (perhaps they were part of the Sea People migration?) and controlled five cities at the south of Canaan – they were the bulwark against the Egyptians who must have longed to control the Lebanon coast to the north again. The Cedars of Lebanon were famous and Egypt always needed wood.
All in all it’s a fascinating time, and it’s before monothestic Judaism, before Buddha, before the Greek Philosophers – a wonderful place for some swords and some sorcery. The blog can be found here: