An ‘Eteocretan’ inscription from Praisos and the homeland of the Sea Peoples
Luuk de Ligt Talanta XL-XLI (2008-2009) : 151-172.
The whereabouts of the homeland or homelands of the so-called Sea Peoples have been endlessly debated. This article re-examines this problem by looking at one of the ‘Eteocretan’ inscriptions from the town of Praisos. It is argued that this text is written in an Indo-European language belonging to the Oscan-Umbrian branch of the Italic language family. Based on this finding it is suggested that this language must have arrived in eastern Crete during the Late Bronze Age, when Mycenaean rulers recruited groups of mercenaries from Sicily, Sardinia and various parts of the Italian peninsula. When the Mycenaean state system collapsed around 1200 BC, some of these groups moved to the northern Aegean, to Cyprus and to the coastal districts of the Levant. It is also suggested that this reconstruction explains the presence of an Etruscan-speaking community in sixth-century-BC Lemnos. An interesting corollary of this theory is that the Sea Peoples were present in the Mycenaean world some considerable time before its collapse in the early twelfth century.