Here, we report a stratified radiocarbon-based archaeology with anchor points in ancient epigraphic-literary sources, Hittite-Levantine-Egyptian kings and astronomical observations to precisely date the Sea People event. By confronting historical and science-based archaeology, we establish an absolute age range of 1192–1190 BC for terminal destructions and cultural collapse in the northern Levant.
The widespread ash layer, termed Level 7A, contained rich finds (Fig. 3) including bronze arrowheads resulting from fights in the harbour town before its destruction, and a large variety of Mycenaean (Late Helladic IIIB), local Late Helladic IIIC Early, and Late Cypriot IIC ceramics (e.g. White slip II) highly significant for the Sea People event in the ancient Mediterranean world , . This ash layer is nearly synchronous with the Sea People destruction of Ugarit, and other northern Levantine coastal sites such as Ras Ibn Hani, Ras el-Bassit, Tell Kazel, and Tell Sukas .
The reference to “local Late Helladic IIIC Early” pottery in the destruction layer particularly caught my eye. This refers to local (Syrian) imitations of Mycenaean LH IIIC pottery, which obviously must be later than the first appearance of LH IIIC pottery in Greece. LH IIIC is the final Mycenaean pottery style, which appeared after the destruction of the palaces and their associated bureaucracies at Pylos, Mycenae, Tiryns, and many other places. Hence the destruction of Gibala, Ugarit, and the other Syrian sites must be at least a few years after the catastrophe in Greece. There must have been enough time for the Mycenaean potters who survived the destruction to reestablish trade contacts with the Orient and for their new styles to become sufficiently fashionable to imitated there. The implication is that the destruction of the Bronze Age Civilizations c. 1200 BC began in Greece, and spread south and east from there.