Middle Bronze Age migrations (Ancient Near East)
Various and currently outdated theories have been proposed that postulate waves of migration during the Middle Bronze Age in the Ancient Near East. While the turmoils that separate the Late Bronze Age from the Early Iron Age are well documented (see Bronze Age collapse), theories of migration during the Middle Bronze Age (20th century BCE) have little direct support.
Some suggestions connect these alleged "mass migrations" with the coming of the Greeks, moving from their former settlements into the southern and central Balkans displacing the former pre-Greek inhabitants of Greece. Others make reference to a supposed migration of the Hittites to their earliest known home in Kültepe during the same period. However, newer evidence and theories contradict the notion of a migration of the Hittites, suggesting that a Proto-Indo-Hittite language dates back to the fourth or eight millennium BC.
For reasons unknown, the Hittites moved into central Asia Minor, conquering the Hattians and later adopting their culture and name. This invasion by the Hittites displaced other peoples living in Anatolia, who in turn displaced the Middle Helladic Greek-speaking peoples to the west. This enforced an exodus from Northwestern Anatolia created a wave of refugees who invaded what is now southern Greece and destroyed the Early Helladic civilization.
Archaeological evidence shows that the cities of Erzerum, Sivas, Pulur Huyuk near Baiburt, Kultepe near Hafik, and Maltepe near Sivas were destroyed during the Middle Bronze Age. The great trading city of Kanesh (Level II) was also destroyed. From there in the hill country between Halys the destruction layers from this time tell the same story. Karaoglan, Bitik, Polatli and Gordion were burnt, as well as Etiyokusu and Cerkes. Further west near the Dardanelles the two large mounds of Korpruoren and Tavsanli, west of Kutahya, show the same signs of being destroyed.
The destruction even crossed into Europe in what is now Bulgaria. The migration brought an end to Bulgaria's Early Bronze Age, with archaeological evidence showing that the Yunacite, Salcutza, and Esero centers had a sudden mass desertion during this time.
From the Dardanelles, the refugee invaders moved into mainland Greece, and the Peloponnese saw burnt and abandoned cities on par with the much later Dorian invasion which destroyed the Mycenaean civilization. At this time, 1900 BC, destruction layers can be found at southern Greek sites like Orchomenos, Eutresis, Hagios Kosmas, Raphina, Apesokari, Korakou, Zygouries, Tiryns, Asine, Malthi and Asea. Many other sites are deserted, e.g. Yiriza, Synoro, Ayios Gerasimos, Kophovouni, Makrovouni, Palaiopyrgos, etc. This destruction across Greece also coincided with the arrival of a new culture that had no connection with the Early Helladic civilization, who were the original inhabitants. Northern Greece escaped destruction, as well as southern Anatolia, which during this time showed no disturbances.
Gray Minyan ware was first identified as the pottery introduced by this mass movement of new populations into southern Greece around 1900 BC. However, this theory was disproved in the 1950s when excavations at Lerna showed that Minyan ware had a predecessor in the preceding Early Helladic III Tiryns culture. The advent of Minyan ware coincides with domestic processes reflective of the smooth transition from Early to Middle Bronze Age culture.
- Drews 1994, p. 14.
- Mellaart 1958, pp. 9–23.
- Steadman & McMahon 2011, p. 704.
- Dietrich 1974, p. 4.
- Pullen 2008, p. 40; French 1973, pp. 51–57; Caskey 1960, pp. 285–303.
- Edwards, Gadd & Hammond 1971, Chapter XXIV(a) Anatolia, c. 2300–1750, p. 682: "Elsewhere the transition from Early to Middle Bronze Age culture seems to have been a smooth domestic process, unaffected by foreign influences. At individual sites, such as Troy, new wares take the place of old; but the arrival, for instance, of the so-called grey 'Minyan' pottery, which is now known to have been in use long before in neighbouring areas, suggests rather a peaceful acquisition rather than a foreign intrusion."
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- Dietrich, Bernard Clive (1974). The Origins of Greek Religion. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-003982-6.
- Drews, Robert (1994). The Coming of the Greeks: Indo-European Conquests in the Aegean and the Near East. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02951-2.
- Edwards, Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen; Gadd, C.J.; Hammond, N.G.L. (1971). The Cambridge Ancient History (Volume II, Part I): The Early History of the Middle East. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-52-107791-0.
- French, D.M. (1973). "Migrations and 'Minyan' pottery in western Anatolia and the Aegean". In Crossland, R.A.; Birchall, Ann. Bronze Age Migrations in the Aegean. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press. pp. 51–57.
- Mellaart, James (January 1958). "The End of the Early Bronze Age in Anatolia and the Aegean". American Journal of Archaeology. 62 (1): 9–33. JSTOR 500459. doi:10.2307/500459.
- Pullen, Daniel (2008). "The Early Bronze Age in Greece". In Shelmerdine, Cynthia W. The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 19–46. ISBN 978-0-521-81444-7.
- Steadman, Sharon R.; McMahon, Gregory (2011). The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia: 10,000-323 BCE. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-537614-2.