Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Meshwesh



In many books  Meshwesh are called Temehu . The Meshwesh are different from the Tehenu and the original Tamehu recorded by the Egyptians prior to the New Kingdom.


The Meshwesh were referred to as Tehenu\Tamehu. This may not be correct because the Meshwesh are not mention in Egyptian text until the 14th Century BC.

The members of the coalition were led by Meshesher the wr 'ruler' of the coalition.Each group was led by a "great one" or a magnate. The Meshwesh were semi-nomads that lived both in villages and dmi'w 'towns'.The Tehenu lived in the Delta between the Temehu and the Egyptians. The Egyptians referred to all of the people in this area most often by the generic tern "Tehenu".

The TjemhuTemehu which included the Meshwesh controled an area from Cyrenaica to Syria. As a result, in textual material from the reign of Ramses II, there is mention of Temehu towns in Syria. David O'Connor makes it clear that Ramses III referred to these Temehu by the term Tehenu/Tjehnyu (p.64).

The Temehu were very hostile to the Tehenu/Tjehnya. In fact, the first mention of the Meshwesh in Ramses III inscriptions relating to 1188, was the attack of the Tehenu, by the Meshwqesh, Soped and Sea People . David O'Connor makes it clear that the the records of Ramses III make it clear that the Meshweshy "savagely" attacked the Tehenu and looted their cities during their advance to Egypt (p.35 & 105).




The coalition of the Meshweshy had each unit of the army organized into "family or tribal ' units under the leadership of a "great one". As result to understand why the fAsian and Tehenu figures on the Table of Nations are identified differently you have use both the pictorical and textual material from the reign of Ramses III to understand the representations. As a result, Palestianian -Syrian personage or figure D, is labled Tehenu because he was probably a member of one Meshwesh units, thus he was labled Tehenu. The personage that is second from the Egyptians which is labled an Asian, eventhough he is clearly a Tehenu, was probably a member of a Syrian Palestinian unit when he was captured by the Egyptians thusly he was labled Asian. You can find out more about this reality if you check out: David O'Connor, "The nature of Tjemhu (Libyan) society in later New Kingdom; in Libya and Egypt c1300-750 BC, (Ed.) by Athony Leahy (pp.29-113), SOAS Centre of Near and Middle Eastern Studies and the Society for Libyan Studies, 1990.

The Meshwesh wore Tehenu traditional costumes but they are not believed to be real Tehenu. The Tehenu and the Temehu usually wore different costumes. In the New Kingdom depictions of the Temehu, the Meshwesh have "long chin beards", like the Syrian-Palestinians and Peoples of the Sea. They wear kilts, sheaths and capes open at the front tied at one shoulder. Like the earlier Tehenu they wore feathers as a sign of High Status.


The difference in dress among the Meshwesh and their hostility toward the Tehenu, have led many researchers to see the Temehu of the New Kingdom as a different group from the original Temehu of Egyptian traditions. O'Connor (p.74) in the work cited above makes it clear that the Temehu in Ramses III day--"[have] hairstyles, dress and apparently ethnic type [that] are markedly different from the Tjehnyu/tjemhu of the Old Kingdom (Osing, 1980,1018-19). Various explanations have been offered: Wainwright, for example, concluded that 'Meshwesh was a mixed tribe of Libu like tribesmen with their native chiefs who become subject to a family of Tjehnu origin'(1962,p.92), while Osing suggested that the New Kingdowm Tjemhu had displaced or absorbed the earlier Tjehnyu but had selectively taken over or retained some Tjehnyu traits, in the case of the rulers for Meshwesh (1980,1019-1020). Dr. O'Connor is of the opinion "that some rulers of the later New Kingdom Tjemhu deliberately adopted traits they discovered from the Egyptians to be charcteristic of ancient Tjehnyu/Tjemhu, so as to increase there prestige, or in some way had these traits imposed upon them by the Egyptians" (p.74).

It is my opinion that given the organiztion of the Libyans into mhwt "family or tribal groups', sometime prior to 1230 BC over an extended period of time Indo-European speaking people later to be known as Peoples of the Sea entered Western Asia and Libya and were adopted by Tehenu families. This adoption of the new immigrants by Tehenu/Tamehu probably led to the Meshwesh and Soped adopting Tehenu customs but maintaining their traditional beards,. The original Temehu, like the Libu probably saw the integration of Sea Peoples into Temehu society as a way to increase their number and possibily conquer Egypt. It is interesting to note that the Meshwesh were very sure they might be able to conquor the Egyptians because they brought their cattle and other animals with them when they invaded the country. Moreover whereas the Meshwesh, were semi-nomadic, the Sea Peoples: Akawashu, Lukki, Tursha., Sheklesh, and Sherden remained nomadic. and used the spear and round shield.

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