There are plenty of ancient scriptures with indecipherable texts that go back centuries.This recent breakthrough from modern-day Turkey, however, might hold the key to answering one of the biggest questions of the Bronze Age. And that's because it's finally been deciphered by very clever archeologists.
It was discovered in 1878 and is basically the size of a wall; 29 meters long (about 95 feet). Its size makes it the longest Bronze Age artifact holding hieroglyphic inscriptions. Sadly, the actual stone does not exist — it was used in the construction of a mosque — but a French archeologist took great pains to sketch out every bit of it before it was taken away.
It was written in Luwian, a language made of 520 different symbols. The first attempt at deciphering the stone started in 1950 but was all but canceled after decades of delays and nearly everyone on the team had died by then. Now, less than two dozen people know how to read the language.
The copy used by current archeologists is not the original copy from 1878. It's one they received from the estate of James Meilaart, a controversial archaeologist who passed away in 2012. Some consider it to be a forgery since Meilaart did not know how to read Luwian and it was barely decipherable in 1950, so it would have been difficult for him to do so.
The inscription was commissioned by Kupanta-Kurunta, ruler of the powerful kingdom of Mira. Like any good royal press release, it tells of the ruler's rise to the throne of Mira. After he gained control of Troy, he called himself the guardian of the city, because technically he wasn't its king.
It also tells us about the Trojan prince Muksus and his own military successes. According to the inscriptions, he ran a naval expedition that led to the conquest of Ashkelon, now in modern-day Israel. He also built a fortress there after his victory.
Not much is known about the almost-mythic Sea Peoples, but it is known that they raided coastal towns and cities of the Mediterranean between 1270 and 1170 BC. While they basically attacked everyone in the area, according to what records have been found, they put more effort into harassing Egypt.
Clues of a seafaring race could be found in inscriptions on the walls of the famed Karnak temple in modern-day Luxor. They were first found in 1855 and all types of artifacts have been discovered since that have given more evidence to this mysterious civilization.
It was one Egyptologist, Gaston Maspero, who started the interest in the Sea Peoples. He made a theory around the 1870s that a group of marauders affected the Mediterranean during the Bronze Age. By the time the 20th century rolled in, archeologists widely accepted the idea.
The Sea Peoples are linked to many groups, but none are completely confirmed to be true. Some believe they were Trojan refugees formed after the fall of Troy. There is also the theory that they were the Philistines heard of in the Bible.
13. The Sea Peoples Might Have Ended Civilization?
The collapse of Bronze Age empires wasn't entirely caused by the Sea Peoples. There were inland empires like Assyria and Babylonia that were also in decline that had no clashes with them. Historians just think it might have been a perfect storm of invasions, drought, famine, and internal rebellions that ended the civilizations of that era.