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‘Šrdn from the Sea’: The Arrival, Integration, and Acculturation of a ‘Sea People’

Jeffrey P. Emanuel


Despite a broad temporal presence in Egyptian records, the association of the Sherden with another ‘Sea Peoples’ group – the better known and archaeologically-attested Philistines – has led to several assumptions about this people, their culture, and the role they played in the various societies of which they may have been a part. This article separates the Sherden from the Aegean migration and greater ‘Sea Peoples’ phenomenon of the Late Bronze–Early Iron Age transition and focuses on the aspect of this people for which we have the best evidence: their role in Egyptian society. Once those layers have been peeled away, a close reading of the extant literary and pictorial evidence from the New Kingdom and beyond reveals the evolving role of the Sherden in Egypt, from adversarial origin, through a phase of combined military cooperation and social exclusion, to a final, multigenerational period marked by rapid and enduring acculturation and assimilation.


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