Yigael Yadin, The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands, Volume II

Naval battle between Ramesses III and the Sea Peoples. This artist’s reconstruction of the wall relief from Medinet Habu (see photograph) shows the fierce battle, probably fought in the Nile Delta, between the Sea Peoples and the victorious Egyptians. Elaborate details of naval weaponry, vessels and tactics, as well as the dress of the Sea Peoples may be seen.

The drawing shows major portions of six vessels—three Egyptian vessels and three Sea Peoples’ vessels. In the relief the Sea Peoples’ vessels seen in the drawing are in the center; half of the two Egyptian vessels are visible on the left edge. Several features distinguish the ships and men of the Egyptians from those of the Sea Peoples. The Egyptian vessels have lion headed prows and undecorated sterns while the vessels of the Sea Peoples have a bird head at either end. The oars of the Egyptian vessels are fully arrayed, those of the Sea Peoples’ ships are stowed. (The artist of the relief may have wanted to show that the Sea Peoples were caught by surprise and had no chance to run out their oars.) The Egyptian shields are rectangular; the Sea Peoples’ shields are round. Two distinctive Sea Peoples’ headdresses are present: the horned helmets of the Sherden whose ship is center right in the drawing and the familiar “feather” headgear of the Philistines and other Sea Peoples seen top and bottom right.

In addition to the Egyptians’ bows and the Sea Peoples’ long spears, the drawing of the relief shows clearly another weapon—the grappling hook. An Egyptian seaman attempts to snare the Philistine ship to his right by flinging the long line of his hook into the rigging.