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A Peleset and a Sherden prisoner being led by an Egyptian soldier under Ramesses III, Medinet Habu temple

The Peleset (Egyptian: pwrꜣsꜣtj) or Pulasati are a people appearing in fragmentary historical and iconographic records in ancient Egyptian from the Eastern Mediterranean in the late 2nd millennium BCE. They are hypothesised to have been one of the several ethnic groups of which the Sea Peoples were said to be composed. Today, historians generally identify the Peleset with the Philistines.


Very few documentary records exist, both for the Peleset and for the other groups hypothesized as Sea Peoples (see Sea Peoples#Primary documentary records). One group of people recorded as participating in the Battle of the Delta were the Peleset; after this point in time, the "Sea Peoples" as a whole disappear from historical records, the Peleset being no exception. Archaeology has not been able to corroborate the migration of Sea Peoples.[1]

The five known sources are below:

In some translations of the Hebrew bible (Exodus 15:14), the word Palaset is used to describe either the Philistines or Palestina.[9][10] In the King James bible, it is translated as Palestina.[11]

Identity and origins[edit]

A "prisoner tile" of Ramesses III depicting a Peleset (left) and an Amorite (right)

Today, historians generally identify the Peleset with the Philistines, or rather, vice versa.[12] The origins of the Peleset, like much of the Sea Peoples, are not universally agreed upon - with that said, scholars have generally concluded that the bulk of the clans originated in the greater Southern European area, including western Asia Minor, the Aegean, and the islands of the Mediterranean.[13] Fellow Sea Peoples clans have likewise been identified with various Mediterranean polities, to varying acceptance: the Ekwesh with the Achaens, the Denyen with the Danaans, the Lukka with the Lycians, the Shekelesh with the Sicels, the Sherden with the Sardinians, etc.

Older sources sometimes identify the Peleset with the Pelasgians. However, this identification has numerous problems and is usually disregarded by modern scholars. A major issue is the etymological difficulties of the "g" in "Pelasgians" becoming a "t" in the Egyptian translation, especially as the Philistine endonym already corresponded to the form P-L-S-T and therefore required no such modification to be rendered as Peleset in the Egyptian language.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Israel Finkelstein, Is The Philistine Paradigm Still Viable?, in: Bietak, M., (Ed.), The Synchronisation of Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B. C. III. Proceedings of the SCIEM 2000 – 2nd Euro- Conference, Vienna, 28th of May–1st of June 2003, Denkschriften der Ge- samtakademie 37, Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean 9, Vienna 2007, pages 517–524. Quote: "SUMMARY Was there a Sea Peoples migration to the coast of the Levant? Yes. Was it a maritime migration? Possibly. Was there a massive maritime Sea Peoples invasion? Probably not. Did the Philistines settle en-masse in Philistia in the days of Ramesses III? No. Were the Iron I Philistine cities fortified? No. Were the Iron I Philistines organized in a peer-polity system? Probably not. Was there a Philistine Pentapolis system in the Iron I? No. Are the Iron I Philistines the Philistines described in the Bible? No."
  2. ^ Masalha 2018, p. 56: The 3200‑year‑old documents from Ramesses III, including an inscription dated c. 1150 BC, at the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at the Medinat Habu Temple in Luxor – one of the best‑preserved temples of Egypt – refers to the Peleset among those who fought against Ramesses III (Breasted 2001: 24; also Bruyère 1929‒1930), who reigned from 1186 to 1155 BC.
  3. ^ Killebrew 2005, p. 202.
  4. ^ "Text of the Papyrus Harris". Specialtyinterests.net. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
  5. ^ a b Killebrew 2005, p. 204.
  6. ^ Bernard Bruyère, Mert Seger à Deir el Médineh, 1929, page 32-37
  7. ^ Alan Gardiner, Ancient Egyptian Onomastica, Volume 1, Oxford, 1947, no. 270, pages 200-205
  8. ^ Ehrlich 1996, p. 65.
  9. ^ "Exodus 15 Interlinear Bible". biblehub.com. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  10. ^ "Hebrew Interlinear Layout for Exodus 15:14 (WLC • KJV)". Blue Letter Bible. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  11. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Exodus 15:14 – King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2024-05-07.
  12. ^ Killebrew, Ann E. (2005). Biblical Peoples and Ethnicity: An Archaeological Study of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, and Early Israel, 1300-1100 B.C.E. Atlanta, Georgia: Society of Biblical Literature. p. 202. ISBN 1-58983-097-0.
  13. ^ "Syria: Early history". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  14. ^ Fritz Lochner-Hüttenbach: Die Pelasger. Arbeiten aus dem Institut für vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft in Graz. Wien, 1960, p. 141 ff.