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Middle Bronze Age migrations (Ancient Near East)

Migrations in Anatolia around 1900 BCE based on older research. According to Mellart, the Hittite migration displaced other peoples living in Anatolia, who in turn displaced the Middle Helladic Greek-speaking peoples to the west.[1] This is contradicted by newer research.[2]

Various and currently outdated theories have been proposed that postulate waves of migration during the Middle Bronze Age in the Ancient Near East. While the turmoils that separate the Late Bronze Age from the Early Iron Age are well documented (see Bronze Age collapse), theories of migration during the Middle Bronze Age (20th century BCE) have little direct support. Some suggestions connect these alleged "mass migrations" with the coming of the Greeks, moving from their former settlements into the southern and central Balkans displacing the former pre-Greek inhabitants of Greece.[3][4] Others make reference to a supposed migration of the Hittites to their earliest known home in Kültepe during the same period.[1]

However, other theories and evidence provide further information of a supposed migration of the Hittites, suggesting that a Proto-Indo-Hittite language dates back to the fourth millennium BC.[2] The migration theory is elaborated on by recent genetics research. This has revealed that the ancient Mycenaean and Minoan populations were highly similar, but not identical, and that their ancestors had migrated from Anatolia thousands of years before the Bronze Age, during the Neolithic. Nevertheless, the Mycenaean Greeks, and not the Minoans, also possessed an Ancient North Eurasian ancestry from eastern Europe and the Eurasian steppe associated with a migration of Indo-European speakers, likely proto-Greek. Thus, while this is evidence of Mycenaeans being related to the Minoans, it also provides support of a pre-Greek migration into mainland Greece which was in part ancestral to the Mycenaeans.[5]


Hittite invasionEdit

For reasons unknown, the Hittites moved into central Asia Minor, conquering the Hattians and later adopting their culture and name. This invasion by the Hittites displaced other peoples living in Anatolia, who in turn displaced the Middle Helladic Greek-speaking peoples to the west. This enforced an exodus from Northwestern Anatolia created a wave of refugees who invaded what is now southern Greece and destroyed the Early Helladic civilization.[1]


Archaeological evidence shows that the cities of Erzerum, Sivas, Pulur Huyuk near Baiburt, Kultepe near Hafik, and Maltepe near Sivas were destroyed during the Middle Bronze Age. The great trading city of Kanesh (Level II) was also destroyed. From there in the hill country between Halys the destruction layers from this time tell the same story. Karaoglan, Bitik, Polatli and Gordion were burnt, as well as Etiyokusu and Cerkes. Further west near the Dardanelles the two large mounds of Korpruoren and Tavsanli, west of Kutahya, show the same signs of being destroyed.

The destruction even crossed into Europe in what is now Bulgaria. The migration brought an end to Bulgaria's Early Bronze Age, with archaeological evidence showing that the Yunacite, Salcutza, and Esero centers had a sudden mass desertion during this time.[1]

Into GreeceEdit

From the Dardanelles, the refugee invaders moved into mainland Greece, and the Peloponnese saw burnt and abandoned cities on par with the much later Dorian invasion which destroyed the Mycenaean civilization.[1] At this time, 1900 BC, destruction layers can be found at southern Greek sites like Orchomenos, Eutresis [de], Hagios Kosmas, Raphina, Apesokari, Korakou, Zygouries, Tiryns, Asine, Malthi and Asea. Many other sites are deserted, e.g. Yiriza, Synoro, Ayios Gerasimos, Kophovouni, Makrovouni, Palaiopyrgos, etc. This destruction across Greece also coincided with the arrival of a new culture that had no connection with the Early Helladic civilization, who were the original inhabitants.[1] Northern Greece escaped destruction, as well as southern Anatolia, which during this time showed no disturbances.[1]

Minyan wareEdit

Gray Minyan ware was first identified as the pottery introduced by this mass movement of new populations into southern Greece around 1900 BC.[3][1] However, this theory was disproved in the 1950s when excavations at Lerna showed that Minyan ware had a predecessor in the preceding Early Helladic III Tiryns culture.[6] The advent of Minyan ware coincides with domestic processes reflective of the smooth transition from Early to Middle Bronze Age culture.[7]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Mellaart 1958, pp. 9–23.
  2. ^ a b Steadman & McMahon 2011, p. 704.
  3. ^ a b Drews 1994, p. 14.
  4. ^ Dietrich 1974, p. 4.
  5. ^ "Ancient DNA analysis reveals Minoan and Mycenaean origins". Nature. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  6. ^ Pullen 2008, p. 40; French 1973, pp. 51–57; Caskey 1960, pp. 285–303.
  7. ^ Edwards, Gadd & Hammond 1971, Chapter XXIV(a) Anatolia, c. 2300–1750, p. 682: "Elsewhere the transition from Early to Middle Bronze Age culture seems to have been a smooth domestic process, unaffected by foreign influences. At individual sites, such as Troy, new wares take the place of old; but the arrival, for instance, of the so-called grey 'Minyan' pottery, which is now known to have been in use long before in neighbouring areas, suggests rather a peaceful acquisition rather than a foreign intrusion."