PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

1 eastern Med map

The Eastern Mediterranean, Bronze-to-Iron Ages circa 1400-1000 BCE

One aim behind People of the Sea is to amplify the voices and spirit of the families who lived these historical journeys, but have never been heard before on their own terms. So, behind the story is a rhythm of structure that, like these lives, keeps reaching out for more—space, time, experience, understanding—and then coming to terms with it all before the next reaching-out again.

Hence like the weary refugees settling in with Deucalion now in Alashiya (Cyprus), you’re already looking (above) at the whole strange surround of Mediterranean peoples with whom your new life must come to terms. And as Pyrrha (the mother of your migration) promised, there’s magical opportunity here—you’re going with her on a long diplomatic gifting tour. Such were the seeds and nourishment of international bonds that archaeology finds more and more in every shipwreck and new dig. We need to know how interconnected were the peoples of these times and places, because it’s the real-world perspective that has to inform our understanding of our heritage…

Cyprus 'kingdoms'

Deucalion’s “post-Minoans” land and settle in the region of Paphos, pictured below. The cities of Alashiya (ancient Cyprus) were richly international—and, with Aphrodite their most-sacred deity, the island’s queens appear in historical records along with their “priest-chiefs” or so-called “kings.”

Cyprus 1   Paphos Cyprus

First stop along the vast eastward mainland is the great Syrian city Ugarit, where records speak of a Cretan merchant who gets a cordial gift of precious tin (for making bronze out of Cyprus copper) all the way from a city near Babylon. Such was Ugarit’s traffic with Aegean peoples that its streets had a “Cretan quarter,” and the archaeo-facts at every stop ahead make Deucalion feel that Crete his old home is (as we can see today) “gone and everywhere.”

Ugarit view north to Mt Zaphon-Casius, 'Baal's Mtn'  Ugarit gate
View from Ugarit toward Mt. Zephon, and gate to the city’s upper palace

Ugarit ruins

Ugarit man        Ugarit woman 1400s communal tomb

Mount Zephon above, as the highest of the region, was said to be the sacred mountain home of the Canaanites’ supreme deities, El and Asherah. The earliest-known version of their cosmic Creation story starts there, and comes from Ugarit’s recovered archives. As for the spiritual levels of People of the Sea, the story’s originally-ribald and forgetful “cosmic father” who forgets important things, its tale of how evil and death came into the world—and, its manifest lack of sin, curse or punishment due to human beings—certainly shows us a different cosmos than the one created from it later in The Bible’s Old Testament:

In the beginning El, Beneficent Bull who reigned from his mighty horned mountain, looked down on the sublimity and dewy freshness of the world. Turning his gaze in every direction, El basked in what he alone had created and accomplished. Yet, among all the green and gray distances surrounding him, half of what El saw was blue, in a place and a way that was not the sky. So did El descend his mountain, to see what this different blue was…

When El for the first time stood beside the ocean, he wondered at so vast a living thing, as it tossed and sighed and glimmered. Now, El saw two immaculate creatures at play in the waters and the waves, sporting and flashing and enjoying themselves. They seemed to be waiting for him. Their flashing eyes and solemn looks reached down into El’s great root, and stretched his being from one horizon to the other…

El cried out to them: they might call him father, or husband, as they pleased. They gave El one laughing answer—Husband!—and El knew that his being and doing had never been alone. These wonders in the waters were the handiwork of Asherah, El’s one wife older than stars, the walker in the sea, who had made all things beside him. Horny old fool, how had he forgotten? El’s laughter at himself shook the universe awake. And together they named these immortal younglings, Shachar the dawn, and Shalim, dusk: children of the sea, Elohim, the first divine offspring…

There were more than seventy powers like these consecrated from the harbors to the inland mountains of this land, with names and temples and confused crossings-over to make your head swim—each the patron of a family or a guild or some profession….Hawwah and Adham, wife and husband tending vineyards on the mountain, lived like all of the Elohim forever. And the crown of their realm was the world’s great Tree of Life…

Mot was the name of death in these Canaani lands and towns. He alone, Radharani said, received no worship and no offerings. After all, every day, the hand of Mot took for itself. And why was that?

El had forgotten himself in vanity. Baal Hadad had done likewise. So had another of the Elohim, Horon—a guardian of men against the desert’s wild beasts, as cunning as snakes at magic and in places underground. Horon took his chance to challenge El. With a single toss of one horn, El sent Horon head-over-backwards down the mountain. But Horon, raging, resolved on a hopeless revenge. In a flash he was a snake, and he sank his fangs into The Tree of Life. It changed into a hideous Tree of Death, and Horon cast around it a sickly fog, a mist that choked and dimmed the world…

From the Elohim, El sent Adham of the vineyards to fight Horon. So, they grappled up and down the thundering mountain. But Horon coiled up his vicious spite, and struck his fangs into Adham. As Adham felt this bite, and took this poison, he knew that he lived no more among his undying sisters and brothers…

This was the beginning of Mot. No greater grief could Adham suffer. Yet, to his comfort came Shapshu, the living sun, to be mistress of the dead and light the way. Adham the new creature, she called man, Adam. And because for him, there was no life without Hawwah, Shapshu gently folded her hand into Adam’s…

But this was not the deathless hand of his companion from their vineyards on the mountain. This mortal, woman, she called Eve, Life, The Mother of All Living to be born. Henceforth, said Shapshu, their immortality would be their children…

The Elohim together, moved by these wrongs and kindnesses, turned in wrath against Horon. The Elohim forced Horon to rip his Tree of Death up by the roots, and to restore The Tree of Life, that man and woman never want for its fruit; nor shall they want who are mujomena, mystis, or understanding…

Yet, for this undoing, Mot was not to be be undone. Shapshu the sun, for her part, never shone so bright. She burned away the last of Horon’s sickly fog, and the land and living things were fresh as dew again…

Byblos coast

Next stops: Byblos, Ascalon, Gaza…


PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover



About Dr Jack Dempsey

Always good to hear from you! A life-long freelance writer/editor, Brown University Ph.D. (in Native & Early American Studies)---novelist ("Ariadne's Brother," "People of the Sea"), historian and biographer ("New English Canaan," "Thomas Morton," "Mystic Fiasco" and more), producer ("Nani: A Native New England Story"), Book Editor/Public Speaking Coach: Bentley University Adjunct Assistant Professor of English, Media Studies & Communications (Best Part Time Prof 2010). Latest works? Scientific nonfiction on the lunar/solar calendar of ancient Minoan Crete---"The Knossos Calendar: Minoan Cycles of the Sun, the Moon, the Soul & Political Power" (Iraklion, Mystis 2016), based on lectures drawn from "Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth" (2011). Come and enjoy multimedia resources including filmed Native American interviews at ANCIENTLIGHTS.ORG
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