The city burners: an unknown group who managed to overthrow almost 9000 years of Bronze Age civilisation. In 28 years.
Let me start with a quick overview of the oldest of ancient history, the history that preceded the time of the Greek gods. Starting around 10,000 BCE, human beings almost everywhere abandoned the lifestyle of the new stone age (Neolithic) and what we call the bronze age began. Bronze metallurgy was only the least of the changes, though. The really big changes were economic and political. Hunter gatherer societies developed and then based their lives around annual cereal crops. When these crops were harvested, nearly 100% was paid out in taxes and offerings to two sometimes competing but generally cooperating sets of granaries: the palace of the king, and the temples. The temples doled out the grain as offerings, and as wages to pay to build religious buildings and produce religious spectacles. The king doled out the grain as needed, and as wages for public works like roads and monuments and yes, more granaries. But the king also used a lot of that grain to pay for and provision a small, elite, professionalized and expensively equipped force of chariot archers. This chariot army was used to annex other tribes or kingdoms that had embraced agriculture more slowly, to defend the kingdom from annexation by other empires, and to put down the occasional revolt.
This was the most stable way of life that human beings have ever known. The capital city of the empire would occasionally change, the names of the gods sometimes changing with it, but the actual way of life didn’t change for thousands of years. Then, in the space of about 27 years, everything turned upside down. Out of all of the major bronze age cities we know of, all but two were attacked and burned viciously to the ground by unknown invaders or rebels. The first city burned around 1225 BCE. The last sighting of the city burners was when they were defeated at great cost by Ramses II in the Second Battle of the Sea Peoples in 1198 BCE.