A new world order. The beginning of the 12th century B.C. saw a massive upheaval in the eastern Mediterranean. Seafaring tribes from the Aegean, known as the Sea Peoples, converged on the area, disrupting the Egyptian and Hittite empires and destroying great cities such as Ugarit. (The Egyptians claimed to have repulsed the Sea Peoples.) The legacy of this widespread movement lives even today in the names of two Mediterranean islands: Sicily probably derives from the Sea Peoples tribe the Sikila and Sardinia from the Sea Peoples tribe the Shardana.

From the Biblical viewpoint, the most important Sea Peoples were the Philistines. They settled along the central Canaanite coast and were often in conflict with their neighbors the Israelites, who lived further inland in the Canaanite highlands.