11th November 2006
This is kinda springing off the other history topic, but it's one of my favourite topics in history.
The Sea Peoples is a designation for a group - or a coalition, alliance, or nation - of tribes that terrorised the mediterrenean in 1276 - 1178 BCE. No texts describe them as the Sea Peoples, however they do describe them as coming "from the islands" or "from the sea", hence the name.
Egyptian texts do identify the individual tribe names as the Sherden, Sheklesh, Lukka, Tursha and Akawasha though that doesn't really tell us all that much. No texts have so far been identified, translated, or recorded that pinpoint their actual home or who they were. One thing is known, however; they were a major threat to the Hittites, Egyptians, and all other mediterrenean civilisation at the time.
Stranger it gets when you dive into the texts detailing the Battle of Kadesh. The accounts from Ramesses II claim that the Sea Peoples served as allies to the Hittites, but also as mercenaries in the Egyptian army. The lack of a designation for their origin by contemporary writers has lead modern scholars to believe that they deemed it unnecessary - that everyone already knew who the Sea Peoples were, and where they came from.
It also seems that the Sea Peoples were quite friendly to the Egyptians, but in spite of this rose up suddenly and violently. This, neither, has been explained adequately by historical records.
I find it fascinating because of how completely unknown their identity remains, in spite of numerous civilisations and cultures mentioning them. We may never know their identity, but we can certainly continue to hope we'll find out.