Project diary: 1177 B.C. - Prologue

by David

Hey all,

this is David, with a brief prologue to my project diary. If you wonder what's the idea behind that diary-thing, feel free to check the announcement post, in which I explain the motivation and general goals of the diary.

Today, I want to provide a bit more substantive background, especially on

  • what's behind the project title
  • where the inspiration came from, and
  • the story I want to tell

So, what's the "mystery" behind the project title? It is, of course, a date, 1177 before the Common Era, or about 3,000 years ago. Around that year (give or take a few decades), a "perfect storm" of natural disasters, social disruptions, and military invasions led to the destruction or at least the decline of a whole range of Eastern Mediterranean Late Bronze Age civilizations, including the Egyptian New Kingdom, the Hittite Empire in modern-day Turkey, and the Mycenaean palace culture of Ancient Greece, ushering in the first "dark ages" in recorded (Western) history.

Old map of the Eastern Mediterranean - the area where the Bronze Age Collapse happened. Source: Old Maps Online

While I long have had an interest in Bronze Age history, the inspiration for the title "1177 B.C.", which was the start of the project idea, came from the book of the same name. I had read the book a few years ago, and now listened to the audio version of its 2020 second edition. In the book, author Eric H. Clyne, one of the most important modern historians of the Bronze Age, paints a great picture of that time, summarizing what we know of the "Late Bronze Age collapse" after decades of his own and more than a century of other historians' work. So, if you're in the mood for some serious yet accessible and extremely well-narrated history lessons on a fascinating time: pick up the book or listen to its audio version.

Easter Mediterranean civilizations of the Late Bronze Age and (potential) movements of the "Sea Peoples". Source: Map by Alexikoua, Wikipedia

One of the aspects of the "perfect storm" of the Late Bronze Age collapse was the appearance, seemingly out of nothing, of the Sea Peoples. Who exactly these people were, where they came from, and whether they actually were "a people", is still a matter of debate. What seems to be clear, however, from both written and archaelogical evidence, is that around that time, 1177 B.C., the centers of civilization around the Mediterranean Sea were attacked by raiders, pirates, and conquerors, who contributed to these civilizations' decline and fall.

Egyptian depiction of Nile battle between Ramses III and "Sea Peoples". Original is a wall relief at temple in Medinet-Habu/Thebes. Source: Wikipedia

So, while I was listening to the audio book, there was this picture in my mind of one of those seafaring raiders on a sunny Mediterranean beach, having just disembarked from his ship. I saw him as the contemporary depictions show the Sea Peoples - bare-chested, in traditonal skirt-type clothing, and with a gleaming bronze sword in hand, on a white-sanded beach. That's what I wanted to portray. All that was missing now, was the right miniature. Of course, it had to be 1/72 and, happily, Caesar Miniatures, one of my favorite 1/72 soft plastic manufacturers, has a nice little set of their interpretation of the Sea Peoples. This will be my starting point!

The next article in this series will be the first actual diary entry, in which I will talk a bit about which mini I will select from the set!

As always, let me know, in the comments, if you have questions. See you in a bit!

Best, D.


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