The ‘Sea Peoples’ are known only from references in contemporary Hittite and Egyptian records. Their identity and place of origin, while much speculated upon, remains unknown. Hypotheses have proposed that they were Anatolian, Minoan or Philistines. The fact that they were allied to the Libyans in some of their attacks on Egypt might infer a more westerly origin, perhaps Sardinia, or Etruria in Italy. Wherever they sailed from, when they reached their destination they seemed to have been formidable adversaries, at least in their heyday from c. 1280–1170 BCE. Hittite records detail the destruction of major cities such as Ugarit, and the conquest of Cyprus. Successive Egyptian pharaohs Rameses II, Meneptah and Rameses III, record major confrontation involving amphibious assaults by the Sea Peoples, together with local allies. In the last recorded onslaught, in 1178 BCE, Rameses III claims a crushing victory over the Sea Peoples: thereafter, they disappear from history.
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