The Sea Peoples are mentioned as allies of the Hittites by Ramesses II in his record of the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE and, in the second year of his reign, he defeated them in a naval battle off the coast of Egypt. Ramesses cleverly allowed the war ships and their supply and cargo vessels to approach the mouth of the Nile and attack what seemed to be a small defending Egyptian fleet, before launching his full attack upon them from their flanks and sinking their ships. This battle involved (it seems) only the Sherdan Sea Peoples and after the battle many were pressed into Ramesses’ army and some served as his elite body guard.
Ramesses’ successor, Merneptah (1224-1214 BCE) continued to be troubled by the Sea Peoples who allied themselves with the Libyans to invade the Nile Delta. At this point in their history it seems the Sea Peoples were seeking to establish permanent settlements in Egypt as the invading force brought with them scores of household goods and building tools. Egyptian records tell us that Merneptah, after praying, fasting, and consulting the gods in the matter of strategy, met the Sea Peoples on the field at Pi-yer where the combined Egyptian force of infantry, cavalry and archers slew over 6,000 of their opponents and took captive members of the royal Libyan family.
During the reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses III (1194-1163 BCE) the Sea Peoples attacked and destroyed the Egyptian trading center at Kadesh (in modern day Syria) and then again attempted an invasion of Egypt. They began their activities with quick raids along the coast (as they had done in the time of Ramesses II) before driving for the Delta. Ramesses III defeated them in 1180 BCE but they returned in force. Ramesses then set up ambushes along the coast and the Nile and made especially effective use of his archers, positioning them hidden along the shoreline to rain down arrows on the ships at his signal, once they were in range. Once the ships' complement was dead or drowning the ships were set afire with flaming arrows and the Sea Peoples were finally defeated off the city of Xois in 1178 BCE. Egyptian records, again, detail a glorious victory in which many of the Sea Peoples were slain and others taken captive and pressed into the Egyptian army and navy or sold as slaves.
After their defeat by Ramesses III the Sea Peoples vanish from history, the survivors of the battle perhaps being assimilated into Egyptian culture. No records indicate where they came from and there are no accounts of them after 1178 BCE but, for almost one hundred years, they were the most feared sea raiders in the Mediterranean region and a constant challenge to the might and prosperity of Egypt.
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Sea Peoples Books
Univ of Oklahoma Pr (Trd) (01 October 1995)Price: $21.83
BookSurge Publishing (24 November 2010)Price: $6.99
Echo Library (06 February 2007)Price: $18.90
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (30 August 2008)Price: $9.95
Lyons Press (20 November 2012)Price: $16.46
c. 1200 BCE