2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
The origin and identity of the Sea Peoples
In this thread, I would like to shed some light on the origin and ethnic identity of the enigmatic Sea Peoples, who were intricated into the collapse of the bronze age civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean in the 12th century BC. Our main account of the Sea Peoples comes from Egyptian sources - this is primarily because Egypt was one of the few civilizations that managed to survive the onslaught of the Sea Peoples (additionally, both the Hittite empire and the city state of Ugarit mention the Sea Peoples in earlier stages - until the destruction of both at the hands of the Sea Peoples). It has to be rembered that the Egyptian hieroglyphs worked much like an abjad (a pure consonant alphabet, akin to the Phoenician, Hebrew and Arabic alphabets), meaning that vowels were generally not represented, except for /i/ and /u/ (which could be represented by the letter "j" and "w", resectively). Additionally, the Egyptian script didn't distinguish between /l/ or /r/. This poses a huge problem because due to this, we know surprisingly little about the pronounciation of Ancient Egyptian (since modern Coptic is not particularly representative). And, this also means we have very little information about the pronounciation of the names of the Sea Peoples, which are attested as follows (usual transliteration in brackets):
ŠʔRDN (Sherden or Shardana)
TʔWRŠʔ (Teresh or Turisha)
WʔŠʔŠʔ (Washash or Weshesh)
We get the following tentative identifications for at least some of the names:
The Denejen and Ekwesh are sometimes identified with the Danaans and Achaeans of the Greeks.
Although their origins are unclear, the later fate of the Peleset can be traced, as they are probably same that appear as Philistines (Hebrew "פלשתים") in the Bible. Specifically, after their failed invasion of Egypt, the Peleset were resettled by the Egyptians in Canaan. Regarding the origin of the Peleset, they are sometimes linked with the "Pelasgoi" known to the ancient Greeks, but there is a problem with that. While the names are similar, there is the difference between the "t" in the Egyptian/Hebrew version and the "g" in the Greek version.
The Lukka are also found in Hittite sources (spelled "lu-uk-ka-a" in cuneiform). They appear to be people native to Anatolia, and thus and they likely the same ethnic group that are centuries later known to the Greeks as Lycians.
The Sherden may be, somewhat tentatively, the same as the ancient Sardinians. If the identification is correct, then the Sherden were the bearers of Sardinia's Nuraghic culture. Alternatively, the Sherden might be the same as the Lydians of Anatolia, who's capital city was Sardis. What speaks for a Central Mediterranean (as opposed to Anatolian) origin of these peoples is that they are mentioned in the inscription of Merneptah to have invaded from the west alongside with the Libyans (Berbers).
In a somewhat similar manner, the Skekelesh may be the same as the Sicules, which gave their name to Sicily.
The name Teresh/Turisha is sometimes identified as the same as Tyrsenoi, which was the Greek name for the Etruscans. The problem is just that: "Tyrsenoi" is an exonym, as the Etruscans refered to themselves as "Ras(e)na". One possible solution here is that the name "Tyrsenoi" originally refered to a different ethnic group, and that this name only came to be applied to the Etruscans later.