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I. The Philistines: http://www.sacred-texts.com/ane/phc/phc03.htm

If we had any clear idea of what the word 'Philistine' meant, or to what language it originally belonged, it might throw such definite light upon the beginnings of the Philistine people that further investigation would be unnecessary. The answer to this question is, however, a mere matter of guess-work. In the Old Testament the word is regularly written Pelištīm (‏פְּלִשְׁתִּים‎), singular Pelištī (‏פְּלִשְׁתִּי‎), twice 1 Pelištīyim (‏פְּלִשְׁתִּיִים‎), The territory which they inhabited during the time of their struggles with the Hebrews is known as ’ereṣ Pelištim (‏אֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים‎) 'the Land of Philistines', or in poetical passages, simply Pelešeth (‏פֶּלֶשֶׁת‎) 'Philistia'. Josephus regularly calls them Παλαιστινοί, except once, in his version of the Table of Nations in Genesis x (Ant. I. vi. 2) where we have the genitive singular Φυλιστίνο…

The name of the Philistines, therefore, does not lead us very far in our examination of the origin of this people. Our next step must be to inquire what traditions the Hebrews preserved respecting the origin of their hereditary enemies; though such evidence on a question of historical truth must obviously even under the most favourable circumstances be unsatisfactory….

The conclusion indicated therefore is that the Philistines were a people composed of several septs, derived from Crete and the southwest corner of Asia Minor. Their civilization, probably, was derived from Crete, and though there was a large Carian element in their composition, they may fairly be said to have been the people who imported with them to Palestine the memories and traditions of the great days of Minos.


They would be immortalized as ancient Israel’s worst enemy in the scriptures of the Old Testament. They are the Philistines. Much like the ancient Israelites, the Philistines were strangers to the foreign land of Canaan. Although to date, their origins still remain a mystery. From where did they originate prior to their settlement in Canaan?

Caphtor, also known as Kaptaru or Kaptar in ancient Akkadian sources and Keftiu in ancient Egyptian sources has been generally accepted by modern scholars to be the island of Crete situated in the southern region of the Aegean Sea (Cline, 19). Despite these Biblical references providing us with an answer, it beckons the further question: “How credible of an answer is it?”…

Some of our earliest references to the Philistines can be traced as far back as the 12th century BCE in ancient Egypt. It is from an inscription located at a mortuary temple in Medinet Habu, situated on the western side of Thebes in Egypt. Dating to approximately 1150 BCE and commissioned by the Pharaoh Ramesses III, the inscription speaks of the battle and defeat of a confederation of Sea Peoples. In the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the inscription specifically identifies an ethnic group from within this confederation and in opposition to the Egyptians called the P-r-s-t which phonetically renders to the Peleset (Dothan, People of the Sea, 22). This is synonymous to the Hebrew ethnic term given to these same peoples of Pelishtim; that is, the Philistines…

While the excavations of Dothan indicated that there was a Philistine presence on the island of Cyprus at the time and/or just prior to their invasion of Egypt and resettlement in the Levant, it still did not conclusively produce sufficient evidence to claim that they originated from Cyprus…

Archaeologists Dothan and Karageorghis may have been on the right path and not too far from the truth all along. Although they were missing a vital piece to the puzzle and that piece was to be found on the island of Crete and at Pylos on the southern Greek mainland in the Peloponnese…

As we sift through the surviving inscriptions of Mycenaean Linear B tablets, a recurring word seems to hold a link. Transliterated by both Ventris and Chadwick, the terms in question is still undeciphered. These terms are, pe-ri-te and pe-ri-te-u. Based on the Pylos inscription number Vn 130, Pe-ri-te is written in the dative case (Ventris, 571), that is stating that a product came from a region known as Pe-ri-te; suggesting that it was a town of some sort. Another inscription from Pylos, number An 654 speaks of a “Klumenos, a senior coast guard officer, of Pe-ri-te,” however, in this case, it would seem that it is written in the toponym case, Pe-ri-te-u (author’s interpretation). This second form is also observed on two separate tablets found at Knossos on Crete: C 594 and B 5025. One of those two tablets seems to indicate a possible offering of sheep from this town or region. The second is too badly damaged to interpret…

Now, if we recall the Egyptian rendering of the term Philistine, that is Peleset. It is written with hieroglyphs as p-r-s-t; where the letter ‘R’ is sometimes interchangeable with the letter ‘L.’ The same can be said with Mycenaean Greek. The syllabary does not account for the letter ‘L’ which is why in some cases, the letter ‘R’ can be rendered as such. Another interesting fact about Mycenaean Greek and Linear B is that there are cases in which the letter ‘T’ can be rendered as ‘ST.’ An excellent example for both cases can be observed with the Mycenaean word te-re-ta which equates with the later Greek word, telesta translating to “an official” (Ventris, 585). If we apply the same logic to the word pe-ri-te and pe-ri-te-u, we would read Peliste and Pelistu which shows an uncanny similarity to the Egyptian Peleset, the Hebrew Pelishtim (the ‘im’ ending indicates that it is an ethnic term in the Hebrew dialect, thus translating to “people of Pelesht”), and even the Akkadian Palastu…

If what is being proposed here for the first time is true, then we have the earliest reference to the Philistines within the historical record; that is, dating to before 1200 BCE. This would either mean that the Philistines that eventually migrated to the Levant were either Mycenaean or the product of the intermingling of the Mycenaean and indigenous Minoan stock, from a town or province on the island of Crete, proving the Bible’s claim to be true. As they moved eastward, some would have stopped on the island of Cyprus either permanently or briefly before moving on to Egypt and the Levant.

II. The Hittites: http://www.ancient.eu/hittite/

The Hittites occupied the region of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey) prior to 1700 BCE, developed a culture apparently from the indigenous Hatti (and possibly the Hurrian) people, and expanded their territories into an empire which rivaled, and threatened, the established nation of Egypt. They are repeatedly mentioned throughout the Hebrew Tanakh (also known as the Christian Old Testament) as the adversaries of the Israelites and their god. According to Genesis 10, they were the descendants of Heth, son of Canaan, who was the son of Ham, born of Noah (Genesis 10: 1-6). The name they are known by today, therefore, comes from the Bible and from the Amarna Letters of Egypt which reference a "Kingdom of Kheta" identified today as the `Kingdom of Hatti' (the designation the land of the Hittites was known by) but their own documents refer to them as Nesili, as do others of the time…

There had long been an accepted theory among scholars of ancient history that India was invaded from the north by Indo-Europeans known as Aryans (the so-called `Aryan Invasion’) and that, somewhere, there existed a homeland from which these invaders descended into India. The texts uncovered by Winckler seemed to corroborate this theory. Since there was no evidence that Indo-European languages were known in Anatolia at that time, it was postulated that there had to have been some kind of invasion and, most probably, from the same mysterious homeland from which the alleged invasion of India was launched. The historian Marc Van die Mieroop addresses this situation, writing:

Under the influence of an outdated nineteenth–century idea that there was an Indo-European homeland somewhere north of India, much attention in scholarship has been devoted to finding evidence for an invasion. This search is futile, however. There is no reason to assume that speakers of Indo-European languages were not always present in Anatolia, nor can we say that they would have been a clearly identifiable group by the second millennium. We can only observe that when the textual sources inform us of the languages used in Anatolia, some people spoke Indo-European ones, others not…


Hittite is the conventional English-language term for an ancient people who spoke an Indo-European language and established a kingdom centered in Hattusa (Hittite URUḪattuša) in northern Anatolia from the 18th century BCE. In the 14th century BCE, the Hittite Kingdom was at its height, encompassing central Anatolia, south-western Syria as far as Ugarit, and upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BCE, amid general turmoil in the Levant associated with the sudden arrival of the Sea Peoples, the kingdom disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until as late as the 8th century BCE. The history of the Hittite civilization is known mostly from cuneiform texts found in the area of their kingdom, and from diplomatic and commercial correspondence found in various archives in Egypt and the Middle East.

Before the rise of the Hittite Kingdom, there were three major Indo-European groups in Anatolia: the Luwians, Palaians, and Nesites. There is no historical consensus on where they came from or when. The area which would later become the center of Hittite civilization was controlled by a non Indo-European population called the Hattians. Some historians have pointed to the royal tombs at Alaca Hoyuk that show influence of Indo-European religious art, and concluded that Indo-European invaders from the Pontic steppe installed themselves as kings in this region. However, this theory is not supported by any evidence of Indo-European invasion. We simply do not know how or when exactly Indo-European groups began to appear in Anatolia - what is clear is that an Indo-European language (Nesite) and culture eventually became dominant in the central Anatolian ruling class. The ethnic makeup of Anatolia may very well have been a mixed one, with Indo-Europeans, Hurrians, and Hattians. Indo-Europeans seem to have been heavily concentrated in the city of Neša (Kanesh) which was an Assyrian trading colony. The spread of Nesite, which would later become the official language of the Hittite Empire, was probably due to its importance in the Assyrian trade network. Nesite was written in the cuneiform script borrowed from the Assyrian

III. The Babylonians:


After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, two new empires rose to power. They were the Babylonians in the south and the Assyrians to the north. The Babylonians were the first to form an empire that would encompass all of Mesopotamia.

The city of Babylon had been a city-state in Mesopotamia for many years. After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the city was taken over and settled by the Amorites. The city began its rise to power in 1792 BC when King Hammurabi took the throne. He was a powerful and capable leader who wanted to rule more than just the city of Babylon.

Not long after becoming King, Hammurabi began to conquer other city-states in the area. Within a few years, Hammurabi had conquered all of Mesopotamia including much of the Assyrian lands to the north. Under Hammurabi's rule, the city of Babylon became the most powerful city in the world. Located on the banks of the Euphrates River, the city was a major trade hub bringing together new ideas and products. Babylon also became the largest city in the world at the time with as many as 200,000 people living there at its peak.


Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles (94 kilometres) southwest of Baghdad. The name is thought to derive from bav-il or bav-ilim which, in the Akkadian language of the time, meant ‘Gate of God’ or `Gate of the Gods’ and `Babylon’ coming from Greek. The city owes its fame (or infamy) to the many references the Bible makes to it; all of which are unfavourable. In the Book of Genesis, chapter 11, Babylon is featured in the story of The Tower of Babel and the Hebrews claimed the city was named for the confusion which ensued after God caused the people to begin speaking in different languages so they would not be able to complete their great tower to the heavens (the Hebrew word bavel means `confusion’)…

Babylon was founded at some point prior to the reign of Sargon of Akkad (also known as Sargon the Great) who ruled from 2334-2279 BCE and claimed to have built temples at Babylon (other ancient sources seem to indicate that Sargon himself founded the city). At that time, Babylon seems to have been a minor city or perhaps a large port town on the Euphrates River at the point where it runs closest to the river Tigris. Whatever early role the city played in the ancient world is lost to modern-day scholars because the water level in the region has risen steadily over the centuries and the ruins of Old Babylon have become inaccessible. The ruins which were excavated by Koldewey, and are visible today, date only to well over one thousand years after the city was founded. The historian Paul Kriwaczek, among other scholars, claims it was established by the Amorites following the collapse of the Third Dynasty of Ur. This information, and any other pertaining to Old Babylon, comes to us today through artifacts which were carried away from the city after the Persian invasion or those which were created elsewhere.

Every ancient writer mentions Babylon with a tone of awe and reverence.

The known history of Babylon, then, begins with its most famous king: Hammurabi (1792-1750 BCE). This obscure Amorite prince ascended to the throne upon the abdication of his father, King Sin-Muballit, and fairly quickly transformed the city into one of the most powerful and influential in all of Mesopotamia. Hammurabi’s law codes are well known but are only one example of the policies he implemented to maintain peace and encourage prosperity. He enlarged and heightened the walls of the city, engaged in great public works which included opulent temples and canals, and made diplomacy an integral part of his administration. So successful was he in both diplomacy and war that, by 1755 BCE, he had united all of Mesopotamia under the rule of Babylon which, at this time, was the largest city in the world, and named his realm Babylonia…

IV. The Assyrians: http://www.ancient.eu/assyria/

Assyria was the region in the Near East which, under the Neo-Assyrian Empire, reached from Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) through Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and down through Egypt. The empire began modestly at the city of Ashur (known as Subartu to the Sumerians), located in Mesopotamia north-east of Babylon, where merchants who traded in Anatolia became increasingly wealthy, and that affluence allowed for the growth and prosperity of the city.

According to one interpretation of passages in the biblical Book of Genesis, Ashur was founded by a man named Ashur son of Shem, son of Noah, after the Great Flood, who then went on to found the other important Assyrian cities. A more likely account is that the city was named Ashur after the deity of that name sometime in the 3rd millennium BCE; the same god's name is the origin for `Assyria'.

The biblical version of the origin of Ashur appears later in the historical record after the Assyrians had accepted Christianity, and so it is thought to be a re-interpretation of their early history which was more in keeping with their belief system. The Assyrians were a Semitic people who originally spoke and wrote Akkadian before the easier to use Aramaic language became more popular…


The Assyrians were Semitic people living in the northern reaches of Mesopotamia; they have a long history in the area, but for most of that history they are subjugated to the more powerful kingdoms and peoples to the south. Under the monarch, Shamshi-Adad, the Assyrians attempted to build their own empire, but Hammurabi soon crushed the attempt and the Assyrians disappear from the historical stage. Eventually the Semitic peoples living in northern Mesopotamia were invaded by another Asiatic people, the Hurrians, who migrated into the area and began to build an empire of their own. But the Hurrian dream of empire was soon swallowed up in the dramatic growth of the Hittite empire, and the young Hurrian nation was swamped. After centuries of attempts at independence, the Assyrians finally had an independent state of their own since the Hittites did not annex Assyrian cities. For the next several hundred years, the balance of power would shift from the north to the south

Beginning with the monarch, Tukulti-Ninurta (1235-1198 BC), Assyria began its first conquests, in this case the conquest of Babylon. The Assyrian dream of empire began with the monarch, Tiglat-Pileser (1116-1090), who extended Assyrian dominance to Syria and Armenia. But the greatest period of conquest occurred between 883 and 824, under the monarchies of Ashurnazirpal II (883-859 BC) and Shalmeneser III (858-824 BC), who conquered all of Syria and Palestine, all of Armenia, and, the prize of prizes, Babylon and southern Mesopotamia. The Assyrian conquerors invented a new policy towards the conquered: in order to prevent nationalist revolts by the conquered people, the Assyrians would force the people they conquered to migrate in large numbers to other areas of the empire. Besides guaranteeing the security of an empire built off of conquered people of different cultures and languages, these mass deportations of the populations in the Middle East, Mesopotamia, and Armenia, turned the region into a melting pot of diverse cultures, religions, and languages.


An essential condition for adequate knowledge of an ancient people is the possession of a continuous historical tradition in the form of oral or written records. This, however, in spite of the mass of contemporaneous documents of almost every sort, which the spade of the excavator has unearthed and the skill of the scholar deciphered, is not available for scientific study of Babylonian or Assyrian antiquity. From the far-off morning of the beginnings of the two peoples to their fall, no historians appeared to gather up the memorials of their past, to narrate and preserve the annals of these empires, to hand down their achievements to later days.

Consequently, where contemporaneous records fail, huge gaps occur in the course of historical development, to be bridged over only partially by the combination of a few facts with more or less ingenious inferences or conjectures. Sometimes what has been preserved from a particular age reveals clearly enough the artistic or religious elements of its life, but offers only vague hints of its political activity and progress. The true perspective of the several periods is sometimes lost, as when really critical epochs in the history of these peoples are dwarfed and distorted by a lack of sources of knowledge, while others, less significant, but plentifully stocked with a variety of available material, bulk large and assume an altogether unwarranted prominence.

36. What the Babylonians and Assyrians failed to do in supplying a continuous historical record was not accomplished for them by the later historians of antiquity…Persian History with an account of Babylonio-Assyrian affairs, in which the same semi-mythical tales were interspersed with dry lists of kings in so hopeless a jumble of truth and falsehood as to reconcile us to the disappointment of having only a few fragments of it.

37. It is, however, a cause of keen regret that the three books of Babylonian or Chaldean History, by Berosus, have come down from the past only in scanty excerpts of later historians.

V. The Akkadians: http://history-world.org/akkadians.htm

The Akkadians were a Semitic people living on the Arabic peninsula during the great flourishing period of the Sumerian city-states. Although we don't know much about early Akkadian history and culture, we do know that as the Akkadians migrated north, they came in increasing conflict with the Sumerian city-states, and in 2340 BC, the great Akkadian military leader, Sargon, conquered Sumer and built an Akkadian empire stretching over most of the Sumerian city-states and extending as far away as Lebanon…

There are several reasons for taking the year 2350 as a turning point in the history of Mesopotamia. For the first time, an empire arose on Mesopotamian soil. The driving force of that empire was the Akkadians, so called after the city of Akkad, which Sargon chose for his capital (it has not yet been identified but was presumably located on the Euphrates between Sippar and Kish). The name Akkad became synonymous with a population group that stood side by side with the Sumerians. Southern Mesopotamia became known as the "land of Sumer and Akkad"; Akkadian became the name of a language; and the arts rose to new heights. However, even this turning point was not the first time the Akkadians had emerged in history. Semites--whether Akkadians or a Semitic language group that had settled before them--may have had a part in the urbanization that took place at the end of the 4th millennium. The earliest Akkadian names and words occur in written sources of the 27th century. The names of several Akkadian scribes are found in the archives of Tall Abu Salabikh, near Nippur in central Babylonia, synchronous with those of Shuruppak (shortly after 2600). The Sumerian king list places the 1st dynasty of Kish, together with a series of kings bearing Akkadian names, immediately after the Flood. In Mari the Akkadian language was probably written from the very beginning. Thus, the founders of the dynasty of Akkad were presumably members of a people who had been familiar for centuries with Mesopotamian culture in all its forms.


No one knows where the city of Akkad was located, how it rose to prominence, or how, precisely, it fell; yet once it was the seat of the Akkadian Empire which ruled over a vast expanse of the region of ancient Mesopotamia. It is known that Akkad (also given as Agade) was a city located along the western bank of the Euphrates River possibly between the cities of Sippar and Kish (or, perhaps, between Mari and Babylon or, even, elsewhere along the Euphrates). According to legend, it was built by the king Sargon the Great (who ruled 2334-2279 BCE) who unified Mesopotamia under the rule of his Akkadian Empire and set the standard for future forms of government in Mesopotamia. Sargon (or his scribes) claimed that the Akkadian Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf through modern-day Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Syria (possibly Lebanon) through the lower part of Asia Minor to the Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus (there is also a claim it stretched as far as Crete in the Aegean). While the size and scope of the empire based in Akkad is disputed, there is no doubt that Sargon the Great created the first multi-national empire in the world.

The language of the city, Akkadian, was already in use before the rise of the Akkadian Empire (notably in the wealthy city of Mari where vast cuneiform tablets have helped to define events for later historians) and it is possible that Sargon restored Akkad, rather than built it. It should also be noted that Sargon was not the first ruler to unite the disparate cities and tribes under one rule. The King of Uruk, Lugalzagesi, had already accomplished this, though on a much smaller scale, under his own rule. He was defeated by Sargon who, improving on the model given him by Uruk, made his own dynasty larger and stronger. The historian Gwendolyn Leick writes, "According to his own inscriptions, he [Sargon] campaigned widely beyond Mesopotamia and secured access to all the major trade routes, by sea and by land" (The A-Z of Mesopotamia, 8). While Lugalzagesi had succeeded in subjugating the cities of Sumer, Sargon was intent on conquering the known world. The historian Durant writes, "East and west, north and south, the mighty warrior marched, conquering Elam, washing his weapons in symbolic triumph in the Persian Gulf, crossing western Asia, reaching the Mediterranean, and establishing the first great empire in history" (121-122). This empire stabilized the region of Mesopotamia and allowed for the development of art, literature, science, agricultural advances, and religion…

VI. The Sumerians: http://history-world.org/sumeria.htm

During the 5th millennium BC a people known as the Ubaidians established settlements in the region known later as Sumer; these settlements gradually developed into the chief Sumerian cities, namely Adab, Eridu, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash, Larsa, Nippur, and Ur. Several centuries later, as the Ubaidian settlers prospered, Semites from Syrian and Arabian deserts began to infiltrate, both as peaceful immigrants and as raiders in quest of booty. After about 3250 BC, another people migrated from its homeland, located probably northeast of Mesopotamia, and began to intermarry with the native population. The newcomers, who became known as Sumerians, spoke an agglutinative language unrelated apparently to any other known language.

In the centuries that followed the immigration of the Sumerians, the country grew rich and powerful. Art and architecture, crafts, and religious and ethical thought flourished. The Sumerian language became the prevailing speech of the land, and the people here developed the cuneiform script, a system of writing on clay. This script was to become the basic means of written communication throughout the Middle East for about 2000 years.

The first Sumerian ruler of historical record, Etana, king of Kish (flourished about 2800 BC), was described in a document written centuries later as the "man who stabilized all the lands." Shortly after his reign ended, a king named Meskiaggasher founded a rival dynasty at Erech (Uruk), far to the south of Kish. Meskiaggasher, who won control of the region extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Zagros Mountains, was succeeded by his son Enmerkar (flourished about 2750 BC). The latter’s reign was notable for an expedition against Aratta, a city-state far to the northeast of Mesopotamia. Enmerkar was succeeded by Lugalbanda, one of his military leaders. The exploits and conquests of Enmerkar and Lugalbanda form the subject of a cycle of epic tales constituting the most important source of information on early Sumerian history.

At the end of Lugalbanda’s reign, Enmebaragesi (flourished about 2700 BC), a king of the Etana dynasty at Kish, became the leading ruler of Sumer. His outstanding achievements included a victory over the country of Elam and the construction at Nippur of the Temple of Enlil, the leading deity of the Sumerian pantheon. Nippur gradually became the spiritual and cultural center of Sumer.

Enmebaragesi’s son Agga (probably died before 2650 BC), the last ruler of the Etana dynasty, was defeated by Mesanepada, king of Ur (fl. about 2670 BC), who founded the so-called 1st Dynasty of Ur and made Ur the capital of Sumer. Soon after the death of Mesanepada, the city of Erech achieved a position of political prominence under the leadership of Gilgamesh (flourished about 2700-2650 BC), whose deeds are celebrated in stories and legends.

Sometime before the 25th century bc the Sumerian Empire, under the leadership of Lugalanemundu of Adab (flourished about 2525-2500 BC), was extended from the Zagros to the Taurus mountains and from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. Subsequently the empire was ruled by Mesilim (fl. about 2500 BC), king of Kish. By the end of his reign, Sumer had begun to decline. The Sumerian city-states engaged in constant internecine struggle, exhausting their military resources. Eannatum (fl. about 2425 BC), one of the rulers of Lagash, succeeded in extending his rule throughout Sumer and some of the neighboring lands. His success, however, was short-lived. The last of his successors, Uruinimgina (fl. about 2365 BC), who was noteworthy for instituting many social reforms, was defeated by Lugalzagesi (reigned about 2370-2347 BC), the governor of the neighboring city-state of Umma. Thereafter, for about 20 years, Lugalzagesi was the most powerful ruler in the Middle East.

By the 23rd century bc the power of the Sumerians had declined to such an extent that they could no longer defend themselves against foreign invasion.


The history of Sumer, taken to include the prehistoric Ubaid and Uruk periods, spans the 5th to 3rd millennia BC, ending with the downfall of the Third Dynasty of Ur around 2004 BC, followed by a transitional period of Amorite states before the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century BC.

The first settlement in southern Mesopotamia was Eridu. The Sumerians claimed that their civilization had been brought, fully formed, to the city of Eridu by their god Enki or by his advisor (or Abgallu from ab=water, gal=big, lu=man), Adapa U-an (the Oannes of Berossus). The first people at Eridu brought with them the Samarran culture from northern Mesopotamia and are identified with the Ubaid period, but it is not known whether or not these were Sumerians (associated later with the Uruk period).

The Sumerian king list is an ancient text in the Sumerian language listing kings of Sumer, including a few foreign dynasties. Some of the earlier dynasties may be mythical; the historical record does not open up before the first archaeologically attested ruler, Enmebaragesi (ca. 2600 BC), while conjectures and interpretations of archaeological evidence can vary for earlier events. The best-known dynasty, that of Lagash, is omitted from the kinglist…

Before 3000 BC the political life of the city was headed by a priest-king (ensi) assisted by a council of elders[3] and based on these temples, but it is unknown how the cities had secular rulers rise in prominence from the earliest times.[4] The development and system of administration led to the development of archaic tablets[5] around 3500 BC[6]-3200 BC[7] and ideographic writing (ca 3100 BC) was developed into logographic writing around 2500 BC (and a mixed form by about 2350 BC).[8] As Sumerologist Christopher Woods[9] points out in Earliest Mesopotamian Writing: "A precise date for the earliest cuneiform texts has proved elusive, as virtually all the tablets were discovered in secondary archaeological contexts, specifically, in rubbish heaps that defy accurate stratigraphic analysis. The sun-hardened clay tablets, having obviously outlived their usefulness, were used along with other waste, such as potsherds, clay sealings, and broken mudbricks, as fill in leveling the foundations of new construction — consequently, it is impossible to establish when the tablets were written and used."[10] Even so, it is proposed that the ideas of writing developed across the area, according to Theo J. H. Krispijn,[11][12] along the following time-frame:[13]

The mythological pre-dynastic period of the Sumerian king list portrays the passage of power in antediluvian times from Eridu to Shuruppak in the south, until a major deluge occurred. Sometime after that, the hegemony reappears in the northern city of Kish at the start of the Early Dynastic period. Archaeologists have confirmed the presence of a widespread layer of riverine silt deposits shortly after the Piora oscillation that interrupted the sequence of settlement. It left a few feet of yellow sediment in the cities of Shuruppak and Uruk and extended as far north as Kish. The polychrome pottery characteristic of the Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC) below the sediment layer was followed by Early Dynastic I artifacts above the sediment layer. The earliest tablets from this period were retrieved from Jemdet Nasr in 1928. They depict complex arithmetic calculations such as the areas of field-plots. However, they have never been fully deciphered, and it is not even certain that the few words on them represent the Sumerian language.

The Early Dynastic Period began after a cultural break with the preceding Jemdet Nasr period that has been radio-carbon dated to about 2900 BC at the beginning of the Early Dynastic I Period. No inscriptions have yet been found verifying any names of kings that can be associated with the Early Dynastic I period. The ED I period is distinguished from the ED II period by the narrow cylinder seals of the ED I period and the broader wider ED II seals engraved with banquet scenes or animal-contest scenes.[14] The Early Dynastic II period is when Gilgamesh, the famous king of Uruk, is believed to have reigned.[15] Texts from the ED II period are not yet understood. Later inscriptions have been found bearing some Early Dynastic II names from the King List. The Early Dynastic IIIa period, also known as the Fara period, is when syllabic writing began. Accounting records and an undeciphered logographic script existed before the Fara Period, but the full flow of human speech was first recorded around 2600 BC at the beginning of the Fara Period.[16] The Early Dynastic IIIb period is also known as the Pre-Sargonic period.

VII. The Phoenicians: http://www.phoenician.org/origin_of_phoenicians.htm

The many opinions offered concerning the origin of the Phoenicians seem to coalesce around four basic theories.

The oldest of these theories was conveyed to us by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, who suggested the Phoenicians had come from the Red (Erythraean) Sea.[iii] By this the Greeks meant the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, with the term later being applied to what we know today as the Red Sea beside Egypt.[iv] This legend was repeated from time to time in antiquity, though modern research has cast serious doubt upon that possibility, as we will see. Herodotus documented this legend on the opening page of his Histories:

Originally, these people came to our sea from the Red Sea, as it is known. No sooner had they settled in the land they still inhabit than they turned to overseas travel.

Herodotus 1:1

The second theory to emerge suggested the Phoenicians had arisen out of the wider group of people known as Canaanites, who many years earlier had populated the wide swath of land between Anatolia (modern Turkey) and Egypt. Maurice Dunand, who performed some of the highly revealing archaeological excavations at Byblos, was among the people whose data supported this conclusion.[v]

Another theory asserted that the existing cities at Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, and the towns around them were conquered by the Sea Peoples about 1200 B.C.—and that the merging of Sea Peoples with these local inhabitants created the Phoenicians. Gerhard Herm and others have espoused this view.[vi] The major drawback to this theory is that it was formulated prior to the archaeological excavations at several Phoenician cities. Those excavations have shown there was no destruction or societal change in these cities at that time. Nevertheless, some individuals continue to adhere to variations of this “conquest” view.

The remaining theory, which has become popular in some academic circles, is that Phoenician cities existed prior to 1200 B.C., but did not become differentiated from their neighbors until after the appearance of the Sea Peoples. This theory does not claim the Sea Peoples attacked the Phoenician cities. In fact it notes exactly the opposite. It states the Sea Peoples conquered only the surrounding peoples in the Levant,[vii] causing those people to become different than the Phoenicians. Because of this, the Phoenicians are then said to have emerged as a separate people only after 1200 B.C., and their “origin” is attributed to that date. This view has been proposed by Sabatino Moscati,[viii] Sandro Filippo Bondi[ix] and others.

A history that can rightly be called Phoenician started in the 12th century B.C. Barely touched by the great upheavals caused by the invasion of the “Peoples of the Sea,” Phoenicia…from this period onwards shows a marked differentiation from the neighboring areas....

The Course of History

Sandro Filippo Bondi

Given its recent visibility, perhaps it is best to begin by considering this fourth theory. The observation made by Moscati and Bondi, that the Sea Peoples did not attack the Phoenician cities, is a significant one. Archaeological excavations such as the one made at Tyre in 1974 by Patricia Bikai[x] and at Sarepta (modern Sarafand) by James Pritchard[xi] have shown conclusively that there was no widespread destruction circa 1200 B.C. at those locations. Ongoing excavations at other Phoenician cities are less definitive, but are consistent with those findings. This theory accepts those results. It also accepts the findings of other archaeologists who have detected signs of destruction at surrounding cities in the Levant at that time, which showed the impact of the arriving Sea Peoples.[xii] Furthermore, the statement in this theory that Phoenician society was different than the societies of the surrounding people after 1200 B.C. has been well attested, and no argument is found with that statement.

However the proposal in this theory that the Phoenicians were differentiated from the surrounding peoples only after 1200 B.C. carries with it the assertion that the Phoenicians were so identical to the surrounding peoples prior to that time that they could not be differentiated. Let us examine that assertion. While it is true that everyone who lived in the region known as Canaan could be called Canaanite, just as every person who lived in Europe could be called European, we do not know whether they all lived in the same society—or in different societies—until we examine their history, culture and practices.


The Phoenicians of the Iron Age (first millennium B.C.) descended from the original Canaanites who dwelt in the region during the earlier Bronze Age (3000-1200 H.C.), despite classical tradition to the contrary. There is archaeological evidence for a continuous cultural tradition from the Bronze to the Iron Age (1200 -333 s.c.) at the cities of Tyre and Z araphath. In the Amarna age (fourteenth century B.C.) many letters to Egypt emanated from King Rib-Addi of Byblos, King Abi-Milki of Tyre, and King Zimrida of Sidon, and in other New Kingdom Egyptian texts there are references to the cities of Beirut Sidon, Zaraphath, Ushu, Tyre, and Byblos. Additionally there is a thirteenth-century B.C. letter from the king of Tyre to Ugarit, and a Ugaritic inscription has turned up at Zaraphath. Despite these facts showing that the coastal cities were occupied without interruption or change in population, the term "Phoenician" is now normally applied to them in the Iron Age (beginning about the twelfth century B.C.) onward when the traits that characterize Phoenician culture evolved: long-distance seafaring, trade and colonization, and distinctive elements of their material culture, language, and script.

he Phoenicians, whose lands corresponds to present-day Lebanon and coastal parts of Israel and Syria, probably arrived in the region in about 3000 B.C. They established commercial and religious connections were established with Egypt after about 2613 BC and continued until the end of the Egyptian Old Kingdom and the invasion of Phoenicia by the Amorites (c. 2200 BC).