The inscriptions of Ramesses III at his Medinet Habu mortuary temple in Thebes record three victorious campaigns against the Sea Peoples considered bona fide, in Years 5, 8 and 12. These campaigns were fought against the Nine Bows, a traditional Egyptian epithet for the enemy. The inscription states that this arose from a"conspiracy in their isles."
(interestingly for wargames the campaigns considered spurious are against the Nubians and Libyans in Year 5 and the Libyans with Asiatics in Year 11)
The inscriptions reveal that following the battle several chiefs were captured: of Hatti, Amor and Shasu among the "land peoples" and the Tjeker, "Sherden of the sea", "Teresh of the sea" and Peleset.
Leaving aside for the moment that this mentions the Hittites, the land peoples are nomads, Amorites and Shasu.
The Bedouin nomads Stillman and Tallis call "Donkey Peoples" were nomadic pastoralists, perhaps better classified as cattle nomads. Far from being at the fringes of Near East society they were raiders and travellers across Canaan, following an ancient way of life.
Having visited Israel I was struck by the differences in the terrain and more importantly the climactic zones. The shadow of the mountains pushed up by the rift that forms the Jordan valley has the effect of creating a shadow to the east, where rainfall becomes negligible. The difference is quite startling, only a few kilometres from Jerusalem the landscape changes to desert. The shacks of what the guide called "nomadic" people, (and she called them Bedouin as well) began soon into this zone.
I was sceptical, since these modern "nomadic people" all seemed to have TV aerials.
One of the contingents for my Bronze age army is a warband of nomads; they could reasonably be identified as Shaasu or Amorite, or even as one of the other many tribal groups from the area. It has been postulated that these nomads later became the Israelites. and indeed one of the tribes is called the Shaasu of Yahweh. (The Patriarch Abraham is identified as Amorite)
It should be noted however that different bands would follow different gods. My plan to model portable shrines and golden calf type gods is still on track!
I will admit that I used two types of figure for my Shaasu. The first is Shassu Bedouin (Desert Nomads) - CSM009, the second Sea People with Swept Back Hair (Sheklesh) - SEA016. Even a cursory look at these figures shows that they are very very similar, although the Sheklesh wear the Canaanite style kilt and are shielded. My nomads then can field a warband of warriors and a group of skirmishers, as well as a Chief.
A small but promising force.
The remainder of my painting this week...
|A warband of Sherden|
|More skirmishers and civilians for the Canaanites|