PEOPLE PLACES 7: JOURNEY THE ANCIENT WORLD WITH PEOPLE OF THE SEA


PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

1 eastern Med map

The Eastern Mediterranean, Bronze-to-Iron Ages circa 1400-1100 BCE. Below, a prime trading currency and gift, a “talent” or ingot of smelted bronze—meaning copper mined mostly in Cyprus mixed with even more precious tin from east and west. The shape fits a human bearer’s shoulder, and matches Deucalion’s Cretan double-axe.

bronze talent

New homes in Cyprus for Deucalion’s fellow post-Minoan refugees—and out of that comes invitation (from Pyrrha to you likewise) to share this gifting tour. Such might be the social and strategic trips around this world made by real people, whose exchanges of each other’s “exotic goods” we find all through the archaeology, because they kept important relationships strong. For a man “almost a Minos” like Deucalion, this world (so much bigger and more diverse than he dreamed) is a lesson, too, in his own new insignificance… 

Byblos coast

“Coasting” south along the Near Eastern coastline from Ugarit (Day 6 here), the shores of Byblos mark half the journey from Syria to stops in Canaan. Clues here suggest a “court” with both a Goddess and a priest-chief storied like Adonis, while Minoan-painted frescoes still adorned the walls and silver bowls (below right) found their way to Crete. 

Byblos temple1600-1200    [23] silver bowl fr Byblos, first MM period

This is a tour as well of how Deucalion’s old world is yet alive, but changing. He studies Pyrrha’s even-handedness in each foreign household, but she lets loose that what she sees is troubling:

            –Where I see women covering up, she said, –I see men who can’t control themselves, and women settling for boys. Where are their teachers? Fool me: the rites sing pretty Goddess, but the young girls love The One behind, Anath, because She’s fierce and lusty. What tames them down and spoils them? City things? They learn to want husbands who cower for place. He beats her where her powers temper his. And she would rather sport gold than show her teeth. Life gets easy: all it costs is the light inside. It is not good omen, Pyrrha finished…

Ascalon site

In the Canaanite coastal city of Ascalon (part of whose inland wall you see above), people feel the recent brutality spread across the land by Egypt’s “second Amenophis”—for Pharaohs, after all, never did tolerate any petty-kingdom interference with “their” roads of East-West trade.

For many on this boat in People of the Sea, memory gives them eyes to see waste and mistakes that will bear unhappy consequence. Back in the Minoan world a new “instability” had come into the meaning of male power between words for “husband” and “lord”— presaging and marking change from men (and deities) who husbanded the steady-state world of agriculture (like Canaan’s Dagon, god of essential “dew”), and those ambitious of a war-based status, like Canaan’s Baal. Even in Deucalion’s day, a would-be “Baal-king” had a dubious “right” to full-blown power, seeing that Baal was “only” a son of supreme god El—while earthy Dagon, being displaced in central temples, was El’s own brother

crane nest seal

The Ascalon links run thicker than we think. Legend has it that here before long was a public shrine with a gazing-pool sacred to Earth Mother by the name Derceto (who’d soon take up cosmic conjugals with dewy old Dagon). Derceto, in turn, had another name, Diktynna—a Cretan maid who fought off rape by leaping into the sea. Rescued “by fishermen” who bore her in their nets toward new honors in Ascalon, her history spans Minoan/Near Eastern time and space, because families kept her ways alive (like those later with Pyto-Gayah, whose name connected Delphi’s Pythoness with Ekron in Palestine). Her sign was the X-form seen all through this journey: today in Crete, dikte is the word for, yes, fishnet-hosiery.

Connected to both the sea and the Spice Roads, Ascalon’s latest treasure is a first-find “Sea People” or Philistine cemetery (see for ex. National Geographic July 2016), with family generations in communal and individual tombs. Aegeans, Minoans, Mycenaeans and every other Mediterranean people did centuries of trade here. Not far into the future, Deucalion as a “Keeper of Days” (a carrier of ancient cycles of the sun, moon, soul and political power) will have his part in producing this Ascalon vase, whose signs describe life’s rhythms of light and shadow and rebirth:

People of the Sea, PART III of 3 art

Doubled spiral-wheeled X-forms of 8 calendric points, amorphous flanking shadows, and the Minoan sign for “Snake” and the powers of rebirth: explore Calendar House at Ancientlights.org and discover that Sea Peoples carried significant culture into Palestine.

Sailing south again brings the journey to Gaza, whose first name was Minoa in a long linkage with Crete visible still in historic times on the city’s early coinage (the inscription below mentions “Minos”: scanned from a very small image-source!).

Gaza 1   Gaza 2

Gaza coin

Canaanites

…The road of Egypt’s power ran through Gaza’s north-south gates, and ships and beasts of burden shared the travelers’ houses. Podargos my son loved his ride on a monstrous long-necked horse with one hump. It spat at our boat’s cranky master Ramose, and he spat back…

  Gaza’s men of the desert burned their fragrant wares in Pyrrha’s honor, and never let us see their wives in tents outside the walls or watching herds. It seemed that kings and occupations had worn away a place for queens: our gifts for the Egyptian lord were bribes to let us treat with caravans. The desert-men rejoiced in every courtesy, thought most of our sailors were women, and nights they loved dancing with each other or, if drunk, with girls of Cretan blood. Under infinite stars their music wailed out of skins and pipes every kind, with a clatter of little bronze discs above the drums…

Nile portage

Next stops: Egypt, Pharos, Libya…

CONTINUED…

PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

AVAILABLE AT AMAZON:

https://www.amazon.com/People-Sea-Jack-Dempsey/dp/1582188831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491211523&sr=8-1&keywords=jack+dempsey+people+of+the+sea

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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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