Sea Peoples, modern term for any of the groups of people who attacked Egypt and the E Mediterranean by sea and sometimes by land c.1200 BC They are recorded as having fought in battles with Egypt during the dynasties of Ramses II, when some also served as mercenaries in his armies; Merneptah; and Ramses III. They also may have contributed to the downfall of the Hittite empire. Their origins are unclear and have been the subject of much conjecture and speculation. They may have come from the Aegean, especially Crete, or elsewhere in the Mediterranean and from ancient Asia Minor; their migrations and attacks may have been prompted by drought and crop failures in their own lands. The Philistines have been considered one of the Sea Peoples, but some scholars have questioned that designation.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Middle East