The mysterious Sea Peoples are groups thought to have entered the Orient towards the end of the Late Bronze Age time period. Their impact on the region was seemingly influential and one of the contributing factors leading to the decline of the societal status quo in the region leading up to 1200 BCE. Their origins, cultural identity and long term impact on the area are all factors which have been difficult and complex to research. The challenges with regard to these peoples and any research concentrated upon them include a definitive lack of physical evidence of their material culture, specifically in the northern regions thought to have been inhabited by them. Further south the situation differs slightly as the Philistines (thought to be a Sea Peoples group) did settle into a sophisticated society with material remains to prove it. In the north however, Sea Peoples are known to have settled but their impact is less clear but not necessarily non-existent in all regards.
The Phoenicians as an Iron Age civilisation date back to the transitional period of 1200 BCE (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age) and have often been regarded as simply the cultural descendants of the Late Bronze Age Canaanites. This is true in many ways but in certain instances the Phoenicians achieved feats and undertook cultural practices that may diverge from this idea of complete continuity. In terms of maritime activity, the Phoenicians were able to accomplish feats never before seen in the region. The time period in which these maritime activities started to take place on such an expansive level corresponds with the settlement of northern Sea Peoples in Phoenicia and just outside its southern borders. Although the physical evidence regarding these Sea Peoples is by no means available in abundance, perhaps one can find their impact in the cultural makeup and actions of the Phoenicians. It may be plausible that groups of people that had such a significant influence on an area through their migrations, as the Sea Peoples did, could have had more long term influences on the occupants of the area than has been credited to them before. One possible manifestation of this influence may be the unique maritime character of the Phoenicians which can be compared with the Sea Peoples, who have not been given their name coincidentally. Their affinity to the sea is well known through textual and pictographic records and can in some instances be favourably paralleled with the Phoenicians. Ship design alterations going into the Phoenician age is possibly, at least in part, due to Sea Peoples influence. Furthermore the actual undertaking of Phoenician expansion across the sea and following early forms of maritime expansion which was, to a degree, unknown in the area before seems to have started in a time period contemporaneous with Sea Peoples settling in Canaan. Apart from the settlement in itself, these peoples did so after migrating en masse across the Mediterranean and this must surely be worthy of additional attention. The Sea Peoples’ constant affiliation with all things ship and sea orientated must add some impetus
to this argument. Any other similarities between the Sea Peoples and Phoenicians can also be used as an indicator of cultural mergence. Cultural and societal divergences uncovered between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age inhabitants also may illuminate ideas of decisive outside influences after 1200 BCE.
The primary thread of this research is dedicated to dealing with the possibilities mentioned and perhaps presenting alternative theories to those currently accepted.