Who were the Sea Peoples?

Oct 2013
Planet Nine, Oregon
An argument for a late Mycenaean-Aegean origin of the "sea peoples" is the first appearance of cremation in the Syrian region at the beginning of the 12th century BCE, e.g. in Azor and Hama. This custom existed at this time only in Europe (Urnfield culture), Alalakh (South Anatolia) and "Troy", more precisely: Troy VI and perhaps VIIa (West Anatolia). It could therefore have been introduced to Syria by said "sea peoples" from the West Anatolian-Late Mycenaean region via South Anatolia.
Looks like from "Iron Age I" on..
The Cemetery of Azor and Early Iron Age Burial Practices
Phase Period Description
Islamic (Mamluk/Ottoman?) Cist tombs, other burials, walls
Iron Age IIB–C Possible burials, pottery remains
Iron Age IIA Pit burials, multiple burials (at least two phases)
Iron Age I Pit burials, jar burials, cremation burials
Iron Age I Brick-case tombs
Late Bronze Age Pottery and few disturbed burials
Ben-Shlomo, The Cemetery of Azor , Levant
2008, VOL. 40 NO. 1 (31)
Oct 2013
Planet Nine, Oregon
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Aug 2014
If you haven't bothered to read Centuries of Darkness yet then there is not much point giving you any more sources. It isn't perfect but it is the best attempt to pull everything together. This book is essential to get an idea of the issues involved.
Oct 2013
Planet Nine, Oregon
If you haven't bothered to read Centuries of Darkness yet then there is not much point giving you any more sources. The book isn't perfect but it is the best attempt to pull everything together. This book is essential to get an idea of the issues involved.
I've read portions, but it has been a long time. Looks like a lot of the debate is on the recent attempts at dating Thera eruption. Newest data makes things more recent, but only by a few decades, perhaps. Hopefully some new dating techniques or twists will help clear things up a bit more! Freaking confusing and frustrating it is. I'll ILL the book again!
Feb 2011
Kitchener. Ont.
So, we don't really know who the "Weshesh" were, correct? They were settled in strongholds by pharaoh. And it is guesswork. So, there is an ambiguity that leaves a big door open for Greek mercenaries; works for me.
Sea Peoples of the Bronze Age Mediterranean c.1400 BC–1000 BC
We don't know who the Weshesh were, that is true. But, if we are going to try and identify these peoples we should not take the name (Weshesh) out of context. This is what most people do, scholars & layperson's alike. They decide, quite arbitrarily, what the name sounds like and build a theory to suit.
Understanding the context of the Asiatic wars is essential to identifying the participants.
The context is within the inscriptions at Medinet Habu, and the context is of the Asiatic wars (not the Nubian, or the Libyan wars), is that Ramesses is fighting Hittites in northern Syria.
This is after the collapse of the empire so the Hittite enemy are the Syrian Hittites, and this suggestion is confirmed by the mention of Carchemish & Kode as participants and the attack of Tunip & Arvad in Syria.

Once we understand why Ramesses III was in Syria, that he was fighting Hittites, we need to look at their allies. The texts actually tells us "their confederation were the Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, etc. etc...."
So, those who we call Sea Peoples were actually allied to the Hittites, and in that case it is only reasonable to look toward lands who had a close political relationship with the Hittites. The territory we later call Cilicia was politically Hittite in the Late Bronze, and two cities within this region are easily identified among those (so-called) Sea Peoples - the Danuna, from Adana; and the Tursha from Tarsus. There were several other cities in Cilicia who may have participated, and one was called Issus.
We are already familiar with the various phonetic renditions of Troy on the west coast, some pronounce it Ilios or Wilois. So the " I " was pronounced " W ", which means we are certainly permitted to apply the same phonetic change, I-W, and we already know the " S " became " Sh ". So apply these both together and Weshesh becomes Issus, and we have another city-state which was in politically Hittite territory.

.......doesn't it mention that they set up a camp in Amor? That is far north --or is that a mistranslation?
No, it's not a mistranslation. From the time of Ramesses II the lands of Amor were Hittite, the "Chief of Amor" referenced in one of these wars by Ram. III was merely another allie of Hatti. The expression, "they set up camp in Amor" refers to the Hittite encampment.

What about "Northerners coming from all lands"?
This actually is one of the most baffling interpretations in these texts.
The Egyptian expression /mHtj/ or /mHtti/ translated as "Northerners" is unique in Egyptian texts. It refers exclusively to the inhabitants of the northern Delta. Nowhere are foreign peoples living outside Egypt ever referred to as "Northerners", in any period of Egyptian history.
Remember the capital city of Ramesses II?, called something like, Per Ramesses, Great of Victories. It was known as the house of the Northland.
The Delta was, the Northland. Numerous texts refer to campaigns in the Northland. It was the domain of foreigners from the Old Kingdom right down to the Northern campaigns of Piya, when TefNekht led a rebellion of Delta princes against Piya in the 6th century BC.

When Ramesses III writes, "the Northerners are restless", he is talking about those Delta princes who are for the most part foreigners; comprising of Libyans, Aegeans & Asiatics all inhabiting those gezirah's scattered throughout the northern Delta.

Herodotus made a point of what these gezriah's looked like.
Herodotus writes:
"When the Nile overflows, the whole country is converted into a sea, and the towns, which alone remain above water, look like the islands in the Aegean".
The Histories, Bk II, pg 165.

Strabo makes a similar observation.
"At the rising of the Nile the whole country is under water and becomes a lake, except the settlements; and these are situated on natural hills or on artificial mounds, and contain cities of considerable size and villages, which, when viewed from afar, resemble islands”.
Geography, Bk XVII, Ch 1, No.19.

I'm sure here is where Ramesses III campaigned when he wrote - "I slew the Denyen in their isles".
Oct 2013
Planet Nine, Oregon
Thanks for the clarification, Wickerman. That all makes sense. The armour differences still have me perplexed. And I'm certainly willing to give up the idea of a contingent of Greeks, but mercenaries or small-scale raids could be possible. Not that it particularly matters at that scale in the overall scheme.
Aug 2014
This guy can't have it both ways. When the Mycenaeans depicted boars tusk helmets in their frescos, it was very clear what they were. They are unmistakably boars tusk helmets. So if this papyrus is Mycenaean then it can't be showing boars tusk helmets. If the author wants us to think that they are boars tusks helmets then the papyrus was not done by a Mycenaean artist. It looks like a regular Egyptian painting to me.
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