Who were the "Sea People"

Feb 2011
770
Kitchener. Ont.
and that is exactly the fundamental !point
the srdn/sherden for example were part of the egyptian military already at kadesh aka a good century pre the repulsed sea-peoples invasion, the srdn/sherden were even stationed in garrisons in egypt and yet they like the other 'peoples of the sea' were described as deriving 'of the sea' or from 'the countries of the sea' _not exactly a detailed description if they derived from areas known to the egyptians specially in the case of the srdn/sherden who surly didnt frist their time in the military as deaf-mutes and yet nothing is recorded that their tongue was similar or exact as anything the egyptians knew 'from the midst of the sea' was the best/precise and that says alot;
http://www.enim-egyptologie.fr/revue/2017/2/Abbas_ENiM10_p7-23.swf.pdf
The designation "of the sea" has never sat well with me. In Egyptian the words are, "n-p3-iamu", where 'n' is the preposition "of". Yet in any hieroglyphic dictionary the preposition 'n' is used to indicate the goal of something. In English we should read this 'n' as "for" or "to".
This 'n' can also be read as "at".

Not all of these Sea Peoples were appended with "n-p3-iamu". If I recall it was only the Sherden, Ekwesh & perhaps the Weshesh, I can check that, but the Peleset (Philistines) were not referred to as "n-p3-iamu". So, scholars have removed the specific name (Sherden, Ekwesh, etc.) and replaced it with the generic "Peoples", which is wrong.
So now everyone uses a fabricated phrase to identify all these groups as a collective 'peoples', which only serves to promote the false idea that they were under one command as an attacking force. This is unjustified and highly misleading.
 
Feb 2011
770
Kitchener. Ont.
Not all of these Sea Peoples were appended with "n-p3-iamu". If I recall it was only the Sherden, Ekwesh & perhaps the Weshesh, I can check that,.....
Of all the peoples believed to be listed under the Sea Peoples umbrella there were four who were termed "of the sea". Merneptah used that phrase with the Ekwesh, while Ramesses III used it when listing the Sherden, Tersha & Weshesh.
Even though these names remain controversial, it has been convincingly argued that the Ekwesh refers to the Ahhiyawa located in Cilicia. Also within Cilicia we seem to have two more names readily identifiable - Tersha (from Tarsus), and Weshesh (from Issus), and these two also have the same term - "of the sea", appended to their names.

Interestingly, when this term is used in association with the Ekwesh, there is a slight change. The Ekwesh are listed as, "of the countries of the sea".
Which seems to mean this term in its various forms refers to their place of origin, not how they approached Egypt.
That is to suggest the Sherden, the Tursha, the Weshesh & the Ekwesh came from lands on the coast, whereas the Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Denyen originated from land locked city-states.
 
Yes, some have preferred to see the Sherden as originating from Sardis.
Yet the conventional paradigm has not settled on whether the Sherden came from Sardinia, or went to Sardinia.

The idea the Sherden came from Sardinia is reliant on the concept of a Mediterranean-wide alliance of otherwise independent peoples of differing politics & religious beliefs all collaborating together. A wholly preposterous idea given the evidence we have to date.
No, the evidence for that is not based on that. There is no need for any coordinated alliance, there are multiple raids and attacks under Ramesses II, Merenptah and Ramesses III (several).
The constituent groups in each of these raids are all different. The idea that this was all one related or allied group is more based on later theory.

The Shardana warriors are mentioned and depicted long before Ramesses III. They are depicted in the same way, with their horned helmets, in the time of Ramesses II. That's the first reference that I'm aware of; from the wiki (I'm lazy):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherden said:
The Sherden seem to have been one of the more prominent groups of pirates that engaged in coastal raiding and the disruption of trade in the years around the 13th century BC. They are first mentioned by name in the Tanis II rhetorical stele of Ramesses II, which says in part, "As for the Sherden of rebellious mind, whom none could ever fight against, who came bold-hearted, they sailed in, in warships from the midst of the Sea, those whom none could withstand; but he plundered them by the victories of his valiant arm, they being carried off to Egypt."

Ramesses II clearly indicates that they came from the midst of the Sea.

And the same outfit's and weaponry are worn by ancient warriors of the Nuragic culture on Sardinia (and similar warriors on Corsica).
Note that these 'Shardana' style warriors and objects clearly pre-date the reign of Ramesses II (and certainly Ramesses III), so they likely did not migrate to Sardinia after the attacks on Egypt in the time of Ramesses III.
See also: Sherden - Wikipedia for some of the statuettes. Note not just the horns but also cuirasses and the long swords.
It could be all just a coincidence of course...

They became part of the Egyptian army (probably as mercenaries) as some point in time, they certainly were employed by Ramesses II and there are many later references. That doesn't stop a group of Shardana from attacking Egypt under Ramesses III (similary: Libyan bands attacked or invaded parts of Egypt long after the first groups had been made part of the Egyptian army).
And indeed that island seems to have been called SRDN or Šrdn by the 9th or 8th century BC at the latest.

Some more information on the Šrdn (Shrdn, Sherden/Shardana?)
“Shardana project” - Perspectives and Researches on the Sherden in ...
 
Jan 2015
5,420
Ontario, Canada
Of all the peoples believed to be listed under the Sea Peoples umbrella there were four who were termed "of the sea". Merneptah used that phrase with the Ekwesh, while Ramesses III used it when listing the Sherden, Tersha & Weshesh.
Even though these names remain controversial, it has been convincingly argued that the Ekwesh refers to the Ahhiyawa located in Cilicia. Also within Cilicia we seem to have two more names readily identifiable - Tersha (from Tarsus), and Weshesh (from Issus), and these two also have the same term - "of the sea", appended to their names.

Interestingly, when this term is used in association with the Ekwesh, there is a slight change. The Ekwesh are listed as, "of the countries of the sea".
Which seems to mean this term in its various forms refers to their place of origin, not how they approached Egypt.
That is to suggest the Sherden, the Tursha, the Weshesh & the Ekwesh came from lands on the coast, whereas the Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Denyen originated from land locked city-states.
What do you mean the Ahhiyawa located in Cilicia? Did the Ahhiyawa go to Cilicia?

Is there really a distinction between "of the sea" and "of the countries of the sea"?
Pretty sure that "countries of the sea" refers to coastal Anatolia.

I'll comment on the Sherden. There isn't really any evidence that connects them with the Western Mediterranean. At best there is the claim of archaeological remains (pottery basically) in Greece which are supposedly from that area of Sicily and Sardinia. But that is easily explained as trade. One could just as easily claim that horned helmets and straight swords in these depictions are similar to that of various Anatolian cultures.
 
Feb 2011
770
Kitchener. Ont.
No, the evidence for that is not based on that. There is no need for any coordinated alliance, there are multiple raids and attacks under Ramesses II, Merenptah and Ramesses III (several).
The constituent groups in each of these raids are all different. The idea that this was all one related or allied group is more based on later theory.
You seem to be dismissing a suggestion?, that foreign peoples assembling against Egypt from the time of Ram. II, through Merneptah, to Ram III had a common purpose. I am not even aware of such a suggestion. Those raids involved several generations and covered about a century, so I can't imagine why anyone would suggest they were all 'Sea Peoples' campaigns.

The Shardana warriors are mentioned and depicted long before Ramesses III. They are depicted in the same way, with their horned helmets, in the time of Ramesses II. That's the first reference that I'm aware of; from the wiki (I'm lazy):
The Shardana are actually mentioned centuries prior to Ram. II, in the Amarna Period. Two Shardana (specifically, a father & son) are also mentioned in a document from Ugarit.

Ramesses II clearly indicates that they came from the midst of the Sea.


Well.., the word "midst" is likely hry-hb (from memory here), which doesn't mean middle, it means within. The glyph shows an internal human organ (stomach?).
It is a term often used for peoples & places within the Egyptian delta - that is to say, living on the islands within the Egyptian delta. In flood season the Delta was a 'sea', specifically identified as W3dj-wr.
Ramesses III built ships "m hry-hb w3dj-wr", often translated as "In the midst/middle of the sea". A somewhat ridiculous interpretation given that common sense alone dictates that ships were built in shipyards, and the shipyards of Ram. III were within the Delta, not in the middle of the sea.

And the same outfit's and weaponry are worn by ancient warriors of the Nuragic culture on Sardinia (and similar warriors on Corsica).
Note that these 'Shardana' style warriors and objects clearly pre-date the reign of Ramesses II (and certainly Ramesses III), so they likely did not migrate to Sardinia after the attacks on Egypt in the time of Ramesses III.
See also: Sherden - Wikipedia for some of the statuettes. Note not just the horns but also cuirasses and the long swords.
It could be all just a coincidence of course...
Some place too much (in my opinion) on the style of weaponry, in a period when such weaponry had to be extremely expensive. So naturally would be plucked from the battlefield by the victors. In other words the current weaponry had to be shared, used by both friend & foe alike. It cannot be used as an ethnic marker.
 
Hi Wickerman,

I think we can agree on being skeptic whether any of the raids were really done as part of some (temporary) alliance. Let alone all of them.
That was not my issue, my issue was that you said that somehow the "idea [that] the Sherden came from Sardinia" relies upon them being part of any supposed alliance at any point in time.
That question (of their being an alliance) is irrelevant for the identification.

You said:
"The idea the Sherden came from Sardinia is reliant on the concept of a Mediterranean-wide alliance of otherwise independent peoples of differing politics & religious beliefs all collaborating together. "

And I responded:
"No, the evidence for that is not based on that. There is no need for any coordinated alliance, there are multiple raids and attacks under Ramesses II, Merenptah and Ramesses III (several). "

See?
The identification of the Shardana being Sardinians does not rest (is not reliant) on any concept of a "Mediterranean-wide alliance of otherwise independent peoples of differing politics & religious beliefs all collaborating together".
It rests on independent evidence, unrelated to idea's of any alliance.
As explained by me earlier.

In short: the Shardana came from "their islands" in "the midst of the (Great Green) sea" and their depictions bear a striking resemblance with the warriors of the Sardinian Nuraghe (Nuragic) culture, which clearly predates the 19th dynasty (and hence clearly predates Ramesses II & Merenptah) and hence also predates dynasty 20 (Ramesses III et al.). The archaeological remains of their weaponry also matches the depictions (in great detail).
They can't have arrived at Sardinia after Ramesses III (early 12th century BC) simply because their cultural remains (such as the Nuraghe) are dated to start much earlier and the (typical) weapon finds date as early as 1600 BC (including very strong arsenical bronze swords & daggers).

Regards,
Jaap
 
Hi Dan,

Yep. we've already covered this. The best translation suggests that they come from the Nile Delta.
Quite possible, as some of the warriors depicted in the later attacks (time of Ramesses III) are also known to have been part of the Egyptian military.
Certainly after Ramesses III, but the Shardana (for example) clearly were bodyguards of Ramesses II and their employment by the Egyptians therefore predates Ramesses III.
Warriors which bear a striking resemblance to the Peleset are attested during the time of the 18th dynasty as living in Egyptian military controlled area's inside Canaan, and are as far as I know only known from Egyptian military strongholds at the time, i.e. they are most likely also (mercenary) soldiers in the Egyptian army already that early (long before Ramesses III).
Also during the battles of Ramesses III it is clear that several of the attackers are in fact part of the Egyptian army in other battles. Both the Shardana as well as the Peleset are at times depicted as fighting on the Egyptian side.

So it is certainly possible that what is depicted by Ramesses III are in fact revolts of allied/mercenary soldiers who were already stationed either within the Delta or in Canaan, as part of the Egyptian army. And not really a foreign invasion.
The Libyan (Libu & Meshwesh) attacks clearly came from next door (from Libya), so those are actual invasions. Most likely actual invasions at that time, later they were also incorporated into the Egyptian army and 'allowed' to settle in the Delta (not clear whether the Egyptians had a real choice in that). By the end of the 20th dynasty the Egyptianized Libyans take over control of the country (D21, and certainly D22-D24 are all of Libyan descent).
But both with respect to the Shardana as well as the Peleset there can be great doubts as to where the groups that attacked Egypt came from, simply because we have fairly clear evidence that some of them had already been fighting for the Egyptians before the time of Ramesses III. Of course, it is still quite possible that the groups who attacked Egypt did come from elsewhere.

Originally the Sherden/Shardana came from elsewhere, most likely Sardinia. Whether the attacking groups of Shardana during the time of Ramesses III came from far away or from much closer to Egypt (or even from the Delta) is another question.

Regards,
Jaap
 
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Feb 2011
770
Kitchener. Ont.
My apologies for the late reply...

What do you mean the Ahhiyawa located in Cilicia? Did the Ahhiyawa go to Cilicia?
That is what current theory suggests, Ahhiyawa refers to part of Cilicia (the latter name being derived from the former).

Is there really a distinction between "of the sea" and "of the countries of the sea"?
I don't recall any scholar making this distinction, but in my opinion the distinction has been overlooked. Don't be deceived by the 'grand' translation of "countries", the glyph simply refers to "land", which could be the soil in your backyard to some foreign nation. It's a flexible reading.
My feeling is the line "Ekwesh, of the countries/lands/territory of the sea" is merely referring to the scattered islands across the Egyptian Delta, inhabited by foreigners, in this case the Ekwesh.
In several cases where "of the sea" has been used, as explained previously the /n/ which reads "of" in English is more properly "at". If you recall the forces of Ram. III met foreign ships at "the sea", as they approached the harbor mouths. This is portrayed in the well known relief.

Pretty sure that "countries of the sea" refers to coastal Anatolia.
The logic used to argue this must surely apply to every foreign country which borders on the Mediterranean, which, if true, means the phrase looses any significance. Such an appendage to an ethnic toponym must have been intended to distinguish it from something else, or why bother?
 

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