Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Page: 197The old Cretans were known to the Egyptians as the "Keftiu", and traded on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It is significant to find, however, that no mention is made of them in the inscriptions of the Pharaohs after the reign of Amenhotep III. In their place appear the Shardana, the Mykenaean people who gave their name to Sardinia, the Danauna, believed to be identical with the Danaoi of Homer, the Akhaivasha, perhaps the Achaeans, and the Tursha and Shakalsha, who may have been of the same stock as the piratical Lycians.
When Rameses II fought his famous battle at Kadesh the Hittite king included among his allies the Aramaeans from Arabia, and other mercenaries like the Dardanui and Masa, who represented the Thraco-Phrygian peoples who had overrun the Balkans, occupied Thrace and Macedonia, and crossed into Asia Minor. In time the Hittite confederacy was broken up by the migrating Europeans, and their dominant tribe, the Muski--the Moschoi of the Greeks and the Meshech of the Old Testament--came into conflict with the Assyrians. The Muski were forerunners of the Phrygians, and were probably of allied stock.
Pharaoh Meneptah, the son of Rameses II, did not benefit much by the alliance with the Hittites, to whom he had to send a supply of grain during a time of famine. He found it necessary, indeed, to invade Syria, where their influence had declined, and had to beat back from the Delta region the piratical invaders of the same tribes as were securing a footing in Asia Minor. In Syria, Meneptah fought with the Israelites, who apparently had begun their conquest of Canaan during his reign.
Before the Kassite Dynasty had come to an end, Rameses III of Egypt (1198-1167 B.C.) freed his country from the perils of a great invasion of Europeans by land and sea. He scattered a fleet on the Delta coast, and then arrested the progress of a strong force which was pressing southward through Phoenicia towards the Egyptian frontier. These events occurred at the beginning of the Homeric Age, and were followed by the siege of Troy, which, according to the Greeks, began about 1194 B.C.
The land raiders who were thwarted by Rameses III were the Philistines, a people from Crete. When the prestige of Egypt suffered decline they overran the coastline of Canaan, and that country was then called Palestine, "the land of the Philistines", while the Egyptian overland trade route to Phoenicia became known as "the way of the Philistines". Their conflicts with the Hebrews are familiar to readers of the Old Testament. "The only contributions the Hebrews made to the culture of the country", writes Professor Macalister, "were their simple desert customs and their religious organization. On the other hand, the Philistines, sprung from one of the great homes of art of the ancient world, had brought with them the artistic instincts of their race: decayed no doubt, but still superior to anything they met with in the land itself. Tombs to be ascribed to them, found in Gezer, contained beautiful jewellery and ornaments. The Philistines, in fact, were the only cultured or artistic race who ever occupied the soil of Palestine, at least until the time when the influence of classical Greece asserted itself too strongly to be withstood. Whatsoever things raised life in the country above the dull animal existence of fellahin were due to this people.... The peasantry of the modern villages ... still tell of the great days of old when it (Palestine) was inhabited by the mighty race of the 'Fenish'."