sea peoples

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Mar 19 01:23:30 EST 2001

>I am perfectly on your side. Please note the presence of
>the Turusha, probably Taruisa (Troy?), in the second

I know of the Taruisa (from Hittite) who are recorded by the Egyptians as the Teresh
and who have been associated with the Etruscans (and the Tyrsenoi) -- though the
hypothetical connection with Troy is based on a slight linguistic similarity (the
Hittites knew Troy as Wilusa [Ilios]).

>We know about a serious famine in the Hittite empire,
>Menreptah sent on this occasion grains to the aid of
>the Hittite. However he calls them infidelous since they
>let their subjects go (the Turusha) unrestricted.
>We also read about a great famine which determined the
>departure of the Tyrsenoi (that is the Etrusks) from

(This famine was actually the start of a drought which lasted about three centuries
and affected all of the ANE, even making the living of the nomadic Arameans in their
traditonal homelands around Gebel Bishri impossible causing them to migrate as

>This apparently happened before the famous siege of
>Troy, 10 years before, as the Greeks erroneously landed
>by Smyrna, where the exilants were concentrated to
>leave their country. Parts of the Ahhiyawa may have
>associated with the Tyrsenoi and have set over the sea,
>and landed making a raid in Lybia. The population of
>Lybia (Maxies)

And I don't think the Mekwesh were Libyan, as apparently the Egyptians didn't
either, naming them in conformity with other sea peoples with the gentilic
ending -sh. And note we have another reflection of two separate components within
the sea peoples: Peleset, Denyen and Tjekker on the one hand linked by clothing and
head gear, many of the others linked by the same naming convention. This of course
includes the Ekwesh (Achaeans).

>had a confuse memory (during late
>antique) they came from Troy. They are probably a mixed
>population from Meshwesh and Tyrsenoi.
>They soon after advanced against Egypt, and
>particularly Menreptah.

There was already a Greek trading bridge on the Cyrene coast, which made that area a
natural destination for Greek and related peoples to land.

>These Ahhiyawa can not be the hebr. Hivite since this
>small coalition came to Egypt from Lybia and not from

You're depending solely on the accuracy of the Egyptians to include only those
people who were involved, not one more, not one less.

But the Ahhiyawa were not the only "Canaanite" tribe mentioned in the OT/HB. One
should also see the Perezzites as Peleset. (See Garbini's "I Filistei".)

>> Within about fifty years the Hittites disappeared
>> from the scene, fallen at a time when Ugarit was
>> registering the arrival of people in boats
>> attacking its coast. Ugarit then fell into silence
>> along with a number of other cities in the
>> trajectory of the sea peoples, cities in Cyprus,
>> cities in Syria. [..]
>> Ugarit died with the arrival of the sea peoples.

>There is a step too much you take. There is at Ugarit still
>no coalition.

I don't think that this is correct. There was already a type of coalition on record
from the time of Merneptah: Teresh, Lukka, Sherden, Shekelesh, and Ekwesh. The
Teresh and the Shekelesh continue in their activities and are joined by the Tjekker,
Pelest and the Denyen. Ramses III places these last five together on the plain of
Amur, which is just south of Ugarit.

The two groups indicated above, Teresh and Shekelesh on one hand, and the Tjekker,
Peleset and Denyen on the other, can be separated by cultural traits on the walls of
Madinat Habu. (The Egyptian artists seem to have had a great interest down to small
details in the exact representation of the people they portrayed.) The Tjekker,
Peleset and Denyen all wore the same clothing and head gear -- the only thing
separating them was the Egyptian captions. One would need to conclude then that
these three were culturally linked.

>There are only the people of Shikila (compare
>the Eg. Shekelesh), about whom we read, they would dwell on
>their ships. They are probably to be identified with the
>people of the Secha-Fluss-Land under the leadership of the
>Mopsos/Muksh (as we hear about them in the Hittite archives),
>who activated in this region after having been droven out of
>their country by the Hittite.
>Mopsos, was according to these archives also active in
>Cyprus, at the side of the Achiyawan king. Same problems with
>Cyprus may be heared from the Ugarit kiln correspondence.
>Later on tryed the last Hittite king to reestablish his
>hegemony over Cyprus. We know from the Troyan legends cyclus,
>Agamemnon did oust the king of Cyprus, Kyniras, who tryed to
>cheat him, sending instead of the promissed boats, miniature
>reproductions of.

Tradition as history is something you'll never be able to support per se.

>> We only have a few windows on the events because most of
>> the potential witnesses were silenced by the sea peoples
>> in their movement around the Mediterrannean from Greece
>> around to Egypt. The archaeology is a strong witness of
>> events which reflect such a devastating movement. Another
>> witness can be found on the walls of Madinat Habu, the
>> mortuary temple of Ramses III, the pharaoh who "defeated"
>> the confederation of the peoples from the sea; the net
>> result was more like that he stopped them at his door for
>> the Egyptians had effectively lost all their possessions
>> in Asia.
>We have still a window more: we know about this Mopsos
>(and he existed indeed, since we have the Azitawanda
>inscription, and the contemporary Hittite testimonies)

Azitawadda only talks of the "house of Mupsh" so this reference is no help to the
matter. The Hittites sources, I haven't been able to track down as yet. (What are

>he led his troops, to which associated following the
>Troyan war also a small Thessalian contingent, against
>Ashkalon, were he died while droping the statue of the
>godess of Ashkalon in the sea.

As we are dealing with legend, how can we use it as history? We *might* be able to
extract a kernel of history, but heroes tended to spawn new variations as the

>The Thessalian link is interesting since the so called
>Philistine pottery displays some northern Greek
>influences (Metopen-Styl).


>So we can assume from this information (cum granum
>salis) the Shekelesh were more or the less foreign
>mercenaries selected from the defeated troops of
>Mopsos (we have a single destruction of Ashkalon, and
>it dates before the reign of Ramses III - so the defeat
>of the Shekelesh is the work of the Philistine and not
>of the Egyptians). This is a 50% percent argument, but
>since we have no first hand information about what
>happened in Philistea, we should tentatively accept
>second-hand information, till we may judge better.

Naaa. Ya gotta be kidding me. We start with what we can show, not with this sort of
guessing game.

>> Ramses III records an invasion which had at its head
>> the Peleset (Philistines/Pelasgiotis), followed by
>> the Weshesh (?), Denyen (Danaoi/Danuna/Dan), Tjekker
>> (Teucri, may linguistically be the same as), the
>> Shekelesh (Siculi or Sicilians). These peoples made
>>a two pronged attack by sea and by land as depicted
>> on the walls of Madinat Habu.
>There is nothing what makes the Peleset/Danuna/Tjeker
>to Sea-Peoples (they are never called Sea-Peoples by
>Ramses) and nothing which should derive them from

Umm, why insist on "there are never called Sea-Peoples" stuff when no-one is
claiming that they were called exactly that or its translation? We do know however
from Madinat Habu that "foreign countries made a conspiracy in their islands" and
this is the movement which produced the Peleset, Danuna, and Tjekker. In the Papyrus
Harris I, Ramses III talks of "the Denyen in their islands" and the "Sherden and the
Weshesh of the Sea". Merneptah talks of the Sherden, Shekelesh and Ekwesh as being
from "the countries of the sea".

The term "sea peoples" (etc) is not a misguided term. It is merely an easy handle to
talk about all the peoples involved.

As to the Peleset et al. not being sea peoples, one should note that they are on
many of the ships represented on the walls of Madinat Habu. One should also note
that they are up in Amurru at the start of Ramses III's narrative at Madinat Habu.

>This group represents an ethnic unit, as we may
>observe it at least at their feather-crowns. The
>feather-crown is typical for the Asiatics in (maybe
>only coastal) Canaan.

Got anything at all to connect this head gear with Canaan? The representation of
Asiatics that I have nothing in common with the feathered head gear.

>They appear already in the
>Beni-Hassan murals as such (second intermediate
>period). God Sopdu (otherwise depicted as an
>Asiatic) wears the feather crown already in the
>time of Sahure.

I agree, as I've already indicated, that there was a close relationship between the
Tjekker, the Peleset and the Denyen. However, the feathered head gear cannot be seen
as Asiatic per se. One finds the Greek helmets of a later age

>By the way, while the "Sea-Peoples" and consequently
>the islands are presented as tormented (Medinet-
>Habu), the Peleset are said to be in their towns.
>They are sedentary.

That's P. Harris I, not Madinat Habu, which talks of the Tjekker and the Peleset
being "made ashes".

>The so-called "Philistine" pottery is statistically
>a marginal production, about 10% percent of the
>grave goods, and entirely lacks in the household.
>90% percent of the ceramic prduction is still the
>local ware.

The Aegean style pottery is of local origin; production of analogous ceramics
changed in the Aegean, but continued on the Philistine coast; and one can notice a
local development. As to them being only grave goods, we mainly only have grave
goods to go by.

>First one was produced to probably
>replace the ceasing Mycenian imports of certain
>products in conection with the burial rytes. You
>know "die Botschaft ist die Verpackung".

This doesn't explain the wide spread use of these wares.

>> It took a number of years for them to move from
>> an area south of Ugarit down to the doors of Egypt,
>> so they dwelled at various locations on their way.
>> Probably in anticipation of a well-prepared and
>> co-ordinated invasion of Egypt they occupied the
>> coast of southern Palestine for some years.
>There are no known intermediary stations for the
>"Sea peoples". This is an archaeologically not
>defensible position.

The "station" in Amurru as mentioned by Ramses III regarding all five peoples is an
example. How many more were needed before the arrival in sourthern Palestine?

>Quite on the contrary, the archaeology can not
>contribute anything to document it.

Agreed, but what would you hope to see, given a stop of enough time to provide
oneself with enough food to continue one's journey?

>> [..]

>> The OT/HB tells us that there were Philistines
>> at the time of Abraham. If one wants to attempt
>> to do history with this data then we find that
>> there were no Philistines in Palestine at the
>> time(s) attributed to Abraham. What we have is
>> the confluence of two traditions, one which we
>> can reclaim and date regarding the Philistines,
>> but two traditions which were originally
>> independent of each other.
>You made a good point. However I must draw your
>attention upon the fact that our present
>interpretation of the "Sea-Peoples" texts is
>heavily indebted to the Bible.

How one first comes upon an idea and how one maintains an idea are not necessarily
the same. This is not a useful argument for anything.

>The first
>archaeologists, who reading about Pi-Ramesse in
>the Genesis, were sensibilised for a particular
>Ramses as the Pharaoh of the Exodus, have,
>reading about the Peleset from the hand of the
>same Ramses, connected this inscriptions with
>the Biblical account about the coming of the

My previous statement also applies here. Traditions may maintain some kernel of the

>There is however nothing Kaftoritic about the
>archaeological Philistine of the time of Ramses.

I don't know if that is significant. What do you want Kaphtor influence to have

>And the whole is the kind of unproper argument
>you usually reject, made of a naive mixture
>between Bible and fragmentary antique sources.

My sources are contemporary. I merely show how they are reflected in the OT/HB.
While one can see how contemporary evidence can be reflected in later tradition, one
cannot start with the later tradition and create an earlier history.

>The first historians dealing with the Medinet-
>Habu inscriptions overlooked therefore
>generously the aspect, that these inscriptions
>never speak about the Philistine as about
>imigrants, but instead about "the Peleset in
>their cities".

As the Philistines, Danuna, Teucrians, Sicilians and Etruscans, were already in
league up in Amurru, your idea here doesn't seem to consider the northern origin of
the Philistines. What would you like for there to have been Philistine cities in
southern Palestine? Encampments? There were surely those.

>They went so far even to invent Peleset
>representations outside Palestine, that is
>on the Enkomi chest. A close look and
>comparition with the rest of the
>representations on the chest reveals: there
>is no feathered warrior on the Enkomi

Actually, there was an ivory carving from Enkomi which featured feathered head gear
and the typical Philistine/Danuna/Tjekker robe (A.S. Murray, "Excavations in Cyprus,
plate i).

As I'm back to full-time work I won't have the time to keep up a full-time response
on this subject. I have at least two others I've got to follow. Give me a little


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