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A depiction of a Peleset man

The Peleset (Egyptian: pwrꜣsꜣtj) were among the various Sea Peoples that attacked ancient Egypt and other regions in the East Mediterranean before and during the Late Bronze Age collapse. Today, historians generally identify the Peleset with the Philistines. The first records of the Philistines are inscriptions and reliefs in the mortuary temple of Ramses III at Madinat Habu, where they appear under the name prst, as one of the Sea Peoples that invaded Egypt about 1190 BCE after ravaging Anatolia, Cyprus, and Syria. After being repulsed by the Egyptians, they settled—possibly with Egypt’s permission—on the coastal plain of Palestine from Joppa (modern Tel Aviv–Yafo) southward to Gaza. Their new home became known as Philistia, or the Land of the Philistines. It was from this designation that the whole of the country was later called Palestine by the Greeks.


Very few documentary records exist for the Peleset.

The five known sources are below:

  1. 1150 BCE: Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III: records a people called the P-r-s-t (conventionally Peleset) among those who fought against Egypt in Ramesses III's reign.
  2. 1150 BCE: Papyrus Harris I: "I extended all the boundaries of Egypt; I overthrew those who invaded them from their lands. I slew the Denyen in their isles, the Thekel and the Peleset (Pw-r-s-ty) were made ashes."
  3. 1150 BCE: Rhetorical Stela to Ramesses III, Chapel C, Deir el-Medina.
  4. 1000 BCE: Onomasticon of Amenope: "Sherden, Tjekker, Peleset, Khurma."
  5. 900 BCE: Padiiset's Statue, inscription: "envoy – Canaan – Peleset." In some translations of the Hebrew bible (Exodus 15:14), the word Palaset is used to describe either the Philistines or Palestina. In the King James bible, it is translated as Palestina.

Origins and Culture[]

Eshmunazar II sarcophagus (cleaned up)

One of only three Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi found outside Egypt, the sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II, refers to Philistine as "mighty lands of Dagon"

Today, historians generally identify the Peleset with the Philistines, or rather, vice versa. 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. The deities worshipped in the Philistine area were Baal, Ashteroth (that is, Astarte), Asherah, and Dagon, whose names or variations thereof had already appeared in the earlier attested Canaanite pantheon. The inscription of the sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II, dating to the 6th century BC, calls Jaffa, a Philistine city, one of the "mighty lands of Dagon." Dagon was a West Semitic god of crop fertility, worshiped extensively throughout the ancient Middle East. Nothing is known for certain about the language of the Philistines.