Eliezer Oren on the Sea Peoples Burials

As previously mentioned, today, Prof. Eliezer Oren (BGU) gave a talk at BIU on a reappraisal of the Sea Peoples burials at Beth Shean, a generation after the publication of his book on the northern cemetery of Beth Shean.
After first surveying the background of the Egyptian presence in Canaan in the LB and early Iron Age and the finds at Beth Shean, Prof. Oren discussed the anthropomorphic coffins found at various sites in the Levant and Egypt and noted that in the past it had been suggested that they were all related to the Philistines. Showing that this cannot be, he stressed that he nevertheless believes that the 5 so-called “grotesque” coffins at Beth Shean should be related to the Sea Peoples/Philistines, in light of their similarities to the depictions of the headdresses of the Sea Peoples in the Medinet Habu reliefs.
He then showed that all the parallels to the so-called feather head dress of the Sea Peoples in fact dates to the early Iron Age, and claimed that one cannot find earlier Aegean antecedents to this. This is interesting, since if so, means that this headdress was not a typical Aegean attire in the LB.
This is an interesting point, but as I pointed out to him in the questions there is a similar depiction of people with a similar headdress in the Phaistos disk.

In any case, it was an interesting review of these well-known finds, and with an important reassessment of various aspects relating to these coffins.


4 thoughts on “Eliezer Oren on the Sea Peoples Burials

  1. As a “GATH” of course; I’m always interested in Gath History. Mine became distroyed sometime during the Amerecan (US) civil war. Who am I & where did I come from? That answer becomes a mystory buried benith all the “pluges” of man kind & history. I know that “Gath” has some historical significant but; it all remains hiden as some historical SECRET that can not ever be reveiled to the human kind.


  2. Louise Hitchcock

    This is interesting as I have often thought that the coffins with spikey hair could represent SP’s or Philistines, while the others represent some other group. Glad you mentioned the Phaistos Disc – it was the first thing I thought of when you started mentioning the article.
    Remember, in 2008 at the Albright, Penelope Mountjoy mentioned the find of 2 riveted bronze helmets in the Aegean which could resemble SP helmets. Also, there are spiky headed warriors on the B side of the warrior vase and various LH IIC sherds that show spiky headed warriors on bird head ships. However, this iconography is not common in the Aegean. It would probably make a good topic for an MA thesis.



    1. arenmaeir

      The parallels from ceramics though I think are all LH IIIC. I did notice as well that there seem to be a few LH/LM seals with, perhaps such head dresses, such as: J. Younger. 1988 The Iconography of Late Minoan and Mycenaean Sealstones and Finger Rings. Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, figs. 87-88, 93.

      Whatever the case, it definitely is an interesting topic, and I await to see Eliezer Oren’s paper on this when published – and then these issues can be discussed further.



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