1200 - 1100 BC

1200 - 1100 BC, the Middle East

The western barbarians could no longer be held back. They broke in a great wave against the civilized world.

The empire of the Hittites disappeared under a flood of Phrygians from Europe. A subject people to the south, the Luvians or Neo-Hittites joined in the spoils, striking from south of the Taurus Mountains, attacking the Mitanni, humbling the Assyrians, and surging down into Syria.

This weakening of empires allowed the rise of the highland Hurrian city-states of Urartu.

The Dorian Greeks swept through the ancient Greek world, flinging the survivors eastward against the coasts. Waves of displaced persons struck the Holy Land from the sea, and by land as well, seeking new homes. One of these groups of Sea People, the Philistines, proably originated in Crete, set Egypt reeling under their attack. Others to the north destroyed the Canaanites cities of Ugarit, Sidon and Tyre.

Egypt finally reasserted itself under Pharaoh Ramses III and drove the invaders from its contracted empire around 1180. The Philistines settled down on the rich coast of southern Palestine which bears their name. In the north by mid-century the great Canaanite cities of Sidon and Tyre were painfully re-establishing themselves.

Babylon was not exempt from destruction. The Kassite dynasty was ended by the Elamites in the middle of the century. Babylon recovered briefly under Nebuchadnezzar I, only to fall to Assyria by the century’s end.

As always in the retreat of the empires, other peoples filled the vacuum. The Aramaeans expanded from the Arabian Desert into Syria, and the highlands of Palestine were tenuously held by the newly-arrived Israelites.

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