Erich Lessing

Egyptian P.R.: Portraits of captured Philistines, referred to in Egyptian as Peleset, cover the walls of the Medinet Habu temple. At right in this photo, a Philistine prisoner is shown with his hands bound. He is part of a procession of captives above whose heads a hieroglyphic text (not shown in this photo) reads, “The words spoken by the fallen ones of Peleset, ‘Give us the breath for our nostrils thou king, son of Amon.’ ”

Many scholars have accepted Ramesses III’s claims of victory against the Sea Peoples and have theorized that he subsequently allowed them to settle in Canaan under his tutelage. But a careful reading of Ramesses’ pronouncements is inconsistent with this scenario. Author Wood argues that Ramesses was engaging in formulaic boasting and that the Sea Peoples came to Canaan not as vassals of pharaoh but as conquerors.