Episode 12: Early Greek, Hittite and the Trojan War

The first Greek and Hittite civilizations emerge from Indo-European tribes in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks adopt an early form of writing and fight the Trojans. An alphabet allows the ancient history of the Greeks to be recorded in the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Map Prepared by Louis Henwood (Click Map for Larger Image)

Map Prepared by Louis Henwood (Click Map for Larger Image)

5 thoughts on “Episode 12: Early Greek, Hittite and the Trojan War

  1. I recently discovered the podcast and it’s fabulous. I was a European history major back in college (a long time ago) and this is how to do history. Wonderful stuff, and I’ve subscribed on Patreon to support the podcast.

    I have a question about this episode. The Myceneans spoke an ancestor of classical Greek, wrote linear B, and fought the war with Troy we all know about. The civilization collapsed, overrun by invaders. Three hundred years went by without a writing system, until the alphabet was borrowed and the Greeks wrote down their legends.

    But why were these people speaking Greek and writing down Mycenean legends? Weren’t these people the descendants of the overruners, not the Myceneans? Wouldn’t they have had their own language and legends?

    Thanks for the podcast. I’m going to hate it when I catch up to you and have to wait for new episodes.

    • Hi Lawrence,

      It is generally believed that the Mycenaean civilization was disrupted, but not displaced. The invaders apparently overran Greece, and destroyed much of the existing civilization. Some probably settled among the native population, but the language of classical Greece was definitely descended from the earlier Mycenaean language. That implies that a significant number of Greek-speakers remained in place during and after the disruptions caused by the ‘Sea Peoples.’

  2. Hi Kevin,

    My wife recently pointed out your podcast and I love it. I noticed you called the event covered here (and in the next episode) the “Invasion of the Sea Peoples.” I’m curious if you’ve also come across it as “The Bronze Age Collapse?”

    The invasion (there also seems to be some evidence of displaced local communities also rising up in rebellion) was certainly a part of this, but there also seems to have been collapses in trade networks and the ability to enforce customs/duties/taxes in outlying areas.

    I think your focus on the invasion works better for the points you want to highlight as part of this narrative, so please don’t take this as a criticism, I was just curious if you had run across the broader arguments in your research.

    Again, thank you for the podcast, it has really been great.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying the podcast. Yes, this period is also known as the Bronze Age Collapse. It seems that various historians have slightly different takes on these events. I chose to emphasize the role of the sea peoples because it tied in with the overall narrative.

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