Sea-peoples


Sea-peoples
reigns of Merneptah and Ramesses III, c.1236-1166 BC.
    The confederation of peoples or tribes, who attacked Egypt in the reigns of *Merneptah and *Ramesses III, were referred to as 'Sea-peoples' in the Egyptian record of the conflicts, preserved on the temple walls at Karnak and Medinet Habu, as well as in the Great Harris Papyrus. These people may have come from a number of different homelands, but they seem to have been driven southwards by hunger and possibly by displacement. At least one group—the *Sherden— were known in Egypt as early as the reign of *Amenophis III when they acted as Egyptian mercenaries.
    After the turn of the thirteenth century BC, the Sea-peoples attacked the *Hittites, Cyprus and the coastal cities of Syria; they flooded down through Palestine and joined cause with the *Libyan tribes, to mass against Egypt from the west. They brought with them their families and domestic possessions in ox-drawn carts, and they obviously intended not simply to raid the Egyptian coast but to invade and settle in Palestine and the Egyptian Delta. *Ramesses III finally defeated them by blocking their land entry into Egypt with his garrisons in Palestine and by destroying their fleet in a sea-battle in one of the mouths of the Nile. It is evident that some of the Sea-peoples fought both for and against the Egyptians in these conflicts, and two of the tribes—the *Peleset and the Tjekker—stayed on and settled in Palestine, eventually forcing the Egyptians to relinquish their sovereignty there. Others settled in Egypt, where they became soldiers in the army and, eventually, landowners.
    The Sea-peoples are of great historical interest because some of their names have a close similarity to, and have been tentatively identified with, later racial groups who lived in the Mediterranean countries and islands.
BIBL. Wainwright, G.A. Some Sea-peoples and others in the Hittite archives. JEA 25 (1939) pp. 148 ff; Wainwright, G.A. Merneptah's aid to the Hittites. JEA 46 (1960) pp. 24 ff; Chicago University, Oriental Institute. Medinet Habu. (four vols) Chicago: 1932-40; Edgerton, W. and Wilson, J.A. Historical Records of Harnesses III. Chicago: 1936; Sandars, N.K. Sea Peoples. London 1985. Wainwright, G.A. Some Sea-peoples. JEA 47 (1961) pp. 71 ff; CAH ii, ch xxviii.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
   A term used by the Egyptians for a group of allied foreign peoples who threatened Egypt from the middle of Dynasty 19 until the beginning of Dynasty 20. They first appeared as an entity in year 5 of Merenptah when, allied with the Libyans, they invaded Egypt but were driven back and defeated. The Sea Peoples are described as Ekwesh, Lukka, Shekelesh, and Sherden, some of whom had been noted separately in Egyptian texts from late Dynasty 18. The Sea Peoples returned in year 8 of Ramesses III after, according to the Egyptians, destroying the Hittite empire and several Syrian centers, including Ugarit. Their coalition was now described as Denen, Peleset, Shekelesh, Sherden, Tjekker, Teresh, and Weshwesh. Ramesses III claimed to have defeated and pushed them back from Egypt. The intention of the Sea Peoples was to settle in newly occupied lands, as they were accompanied by their families and possessions. Ramesses III stated that he agreed to the defeated forces settling along the Levantine coast in what was then the Egyptian empire, although he may have been obliged to do so since they could not be expelled. The Tjekker are later recorded there during late Dynasty 20, and the Peleset, later known as the Philistines, also settled on the coast. The origin of the Sea Peoples in unclear, but they may have originated in Asia Minor or the northern Aegean. Some groups may have migrated elsewhere, from Sherden to Sardinia, but this is speculative.
   See also Warfare.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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