Political Turmoil Around - 687

The natural events of March -687, a final recurrence of earlier such disasters that had taken place during the eighth century, were once more followed by renewed migrations of peoples, political revolutions and economic dislocations. Climtic change was again very significant and oscillations of climate marked the ninety years from -776 to -687.(1) In many places cultivated lands grew barren, strata were dislocated, water sources became in numerous sites sealed off, many river courses changed, glaciers melted, some overflowed streams caused inundations, and altogether contributed to “wolf-time, sword-time” in the words of the Edda, the Icelandic epic, or internecine wars.

In -687 the Cimmerians, a nomadic people from southern Russia—the basin of the Don and the Crimea—moved along the coastal route round the eastern shores of the Black Sea and descended on Anatolia in their westward sweep. The same year saw the horde reaching Gordion. Their incursion marked the end of the short-lived Phrygian kingdom, founded by Gordias, who supposedly had migrated from Thrace, and who was followed by his son Midas. The Cimmerians had earlier (-707/-706) clashed with the armies of Urartu and of Assyria, as is shown from the Assyrian state correspondence. The young Sennacherib, still a crown prince under his father Sargon, sent dispatches to Dur-Sharrukin, Assyria’s capital, about the movements of the Cimmerians. This time they were repulsed, but some twenty years later, in -687, they succeeded to penetrate into Anatolia. Soon after their passage the Cimmerians become lost to history, possibly having crossed the Bosporus into Thrace. The remnants left behind in Asia were destroyed by Esarhaddon in alliance with the Scythians in -679.

About the time of the sack of Gordion, Sardis, capital of Lydia, close to the Aegean shore, experienced a palace revolution: in -687 or about that year Gyges overthrew the Heraclid Dynasty, probably so called for its ruling under the aegis of Mars (Heracles) and its worship of this planet.

The end of the Heroic Age, or the final stage of the Mycenaean Age, was due not to the onslaught of the Sea Peoples—nor were the Mycenaeans themselves the Sea Peoples: this myth, created by the historians and related to ca. -1200 is refuted in the volume Peoples of the Sea. Violent earthshocks and other perturbations of nature destroyed the Mycenaean citadels and left their defenders exposed to the assaults of migrant tribes, dislodged in the same upheavals, and calling themselves the Children of Heracles, or Mars.

The seventh century opened with the migration of the Cimmerians followed by the Scythians who came also by way of the Caucasus and by the route of the Caspian sea coast. These nomadic peoples from the Asiatic steppes, displaced by upheavals of nature, injected themselves into the policies of the warring nations in the ancient East, and changed the course of history.


  1. See Earth in Upheaval, chapter “Klimasturz.”