Frank J. Yurco

Were Shasu Israelites? A nomadic, Bedouin-type people of Canaan and Sinai, the Shasu traditionally opposed the Egyptians and probably harried Merenptah’s army on its march. Merenptah took some Shasu prisoners who are shown in several scenes to the right of the battle scenes on the Karnak wall. Scene 5 shows pharaoh, left, binding two Shasu prisoners, kneeling at lower right. (The gouges that deface this scene were caused by later Egyptians who, believing in the magical efficacy of the temple reliefs, scraped at the walls over the years, perhaps mixing scrapings in water and drinking them, a practice that has been observed at another site even in modern times.)