In around 1180 BC, Kupanta-Kurunta, the Great King of Mira, relates how a united fleet of the kingdoms of Western Asia Minor raided the shores of the eastern Mediterranean.
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Luwian Hieroglyphic Inscription Explains the End of the Bronze Age
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A new view of early Aegean history

This website invites you on a journey into the past, to a time when the so-called Sea Peoples raided the coasts of the Eastern Mediterranean, and Greek heroes set off to conquer legendary Troy. The majority of civilizations around the Eastern Mediterranean disappeared within a few years shortly after 1200 BCE. Here you will find, for the first time, a coherent reconstruction of what might have happened. Instead of natural catastrophes and unknown invaders, the population of a previously largely unknown region, namely Western Asia Minor, now plays a key role in this cultural incision.

During the second millennium BCE, people speaking a Luwian language lived throughout Asia Minor. They were contemporaries, trading partners, and at times opponents of the well-known Minoan, Mycenaean, and Hittite cultures of Greece and Asia Minor.

However, the Luwians in Asia Minor possessed a knowledge of writing at least five centuries before it became customary at Mycenaean courts. And when the art of writing was lost in Greece at the end of the Bronze Age, it still persisted amongst Luwians for as long as half a millennium. In the 19th century, European scholars discovered these Luwian inscriptions long before the first Mycenaean, Minoan, or Hittite documents.

Notes and documents from the estate of the English prehistoric historian James Mellaart report how large documents in Luwian script and language wound up in the collections of the Ottoman Empire and private individuals as early as 1850 to 1900. After 1956, a Turkish-American team of researchers worked on the translation and publication of these documents. Despite this, nothing has ever appeared. Since June 2017, transcripts and translations of the documents have been in the possession of the Luwian Studies foundation.

Mysterious Sea Peoples destroyed a number of coastal cities around the Mediterranean 3200 years ago. Unexpectedly, an almost thirty-meter-long inscription dating back to 1180 BC appears. It portrays the attacks, provides the names of their leaders, and details of their motives and goals.
What new insights do we gain from the rediscovered documents from Western Asia Minor?
  • Until now, any explanations and scenarios for the end of the Bronze Age have failed to take sufficient account of the kingdoms in Western Asia Minor.
  • Inscriptions that were found during the 19th century describe in detail the events at the time of the demise of the Hittite empire.
  • These documents disappeared in government and private collections, and until now remained unpublished.
  • The Hittite empire collapsed after almost 100 years of civil war. Tribes from the southern shores of the Black Sea raided the defenseless Hittite settlements.
  • After Hattuša had perished, Kuzitesup of Karkemish, the most influential Hittite vassal, continued to fight for the interests of the former empire.
  • A military alliance between the countries of Western Asia Minor formed under the leadership of Kupanta-Kurunta, the Great King of Mira, Arzawa, Šeha, and Wiluša.
  • Four princes from Western Asia Minor commanded a fleet of 500 ships and 10,000 warriors against Cyprus, Karkemish, and Syria.
  • The military leader of the raiders was Muksus, a great prince from a neighboring town of Troy. He later succeeded Kupanta-Kurunta.
  • Kuzitesup of Karkemisch eventually surrendered. The Kings of Western Asia Minor made him their vassal.
  • The subsequent peace permitted both regions to flourish, Western and Southeastern Asia Minor. In both areas, use of the Luwian language and the hieroglyphic language prevailed for several centuries.
Western Asia Minor around 1200 BC

“Aegean prehistory” was established as a scientific discipline from around 1920. Since then, archaeologists have spoken of distinct cultures in the countries around the Aegean Sea: the Minoan on Crete, the Mycenean in Southern Greece, the Cycladic on the Aegean islands, and the Hittite in Central Asia Minor.
This model, however, pays too little attention to the large region of Western Asia Minor, where most of the population spoke Luwian. It therefore makes sense to complement the Minoan, Mycenaean, and Hittite cultures with a Luwian culture – as an umbrella term for the kingdoms in Western Asia Minor.

In June 2017, extensive documents, more than 3,000 years old, were discovered. They bear witness to the political and military power which the kingdoms of the Western Asia Minor once held, in particular at the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. The many place names in these documents finally make it possible − after 100 years of research − to create a robust map of the political geography of this region (see illustration).