Shekelesh (S'-R 'rw-a')

One of the earliest accounts of the Shekelesh occurs early in the reign of the pharaoh Merneptah. In the beginning of his fifth year of rule, the pharaoh had to face off with a Libyan invasion; which he boasts of his victory in his annals at Karnak. When Merneptah confronted his enemy, he not only faced one hostile tribe, but a alliance of Sea People groups, which consisted of the Meshwesh people, who were the major forces and urged smaller tribes like the Sherden, Tereš and the Shekelesh to assist in the fight against the Egyptians. Although Ramessess III gives the impression that he has completely eradicated the enemy, the Sea People groups were still a major threat in the Mediterranean. The Harris Papyrus is an important account because it seems to indicate that the Shekelesh were used as garrison forces and mercenaries by Ramessess III, along with other Sea People groups. Sheklesh together the Ekwesh, and Sherden were circumcised as states in the Great Karnak inscription of the Pharaoh Merneptah.

The reliefs and inscriptions at Medinet Habu are the most famous and well-known source for references to the Sea Peoples. The annals here give the most detailed account of the Sea Peoples, but only mention the Shekelesh briefly. However we are able to get a glimpse of what a Shekelesh soldier would have looked like and what accoutrements accompanied him into battle. Of the others, the Shekelesh (and the Teresh) wear cloth headdresses and a medallion on their breasts, and carry two spears and a round shield. Some scholars, such as N.K. Sandars, believe that the Shekelesh came from southeast Sicily. Indeed from other sources we learn that the "Sikeloy" were not the original inhabitants of Sicily, but migrated there from peninsular Italy. In the 8th century Greek colonists came across a group of people known as the Sikels on the island, which they believed had come from Italy after the Trojan War. Although not much is known about the Shekelesh, it is clear that they were an important element in the invasion of the Sea Peoples and played an important role in the military conquests of the coalition.

Following the age of the Sea Peoples, the island of Sicily was divided between three major tribes the Elymians, the Sicani, and the Siculi (sometimes referred to as the Sicels). While the Sicani were indigenous to the island, the Elymians are believed to have originally come from Asia Minor and had deep connections to the Greek city-states of the Aegean Sea. The Sicels, on the other hand, were likely an Italic tribe from the mainland. All three tribes may have connections to the Sea Peoples, but it is believed that marauders from Sicily were part of the invasions by the Sea Peoples. Specifically, these Sicilian pirates were called the Shekelesh by the Egyptians.

For their part, the later Greek conquerors of ancient Sicily believed that the Sicels had fled to Troy after being defeated by the Egyptians. From there, they traveled to southern Italy and finally to Sicily. Modern historians seem to corroborate this belief that the Sicels and the Elymians were both defeated members of the Sea Peoples confederation who found shelter in Sicily.

Anatolia e Sagalassos

Le ipotesi più accreditate si riferiscono principalmente all'area egeo-anatolica e indicherebbero un territorio immediatamente ad est della Licia, dipendente dall'impero ittita ma in contatto con le popolazioni semitiche, tale da giustificare la circoncisione dei guerrieri Šekeleš attestata dalle iscrizioni egizie. Nell'Età del Bronzo finale, un luogo con tali requisiti può essere individuato nella Cilicia e nella vicina Panfilia.

In età arcaica, il capoluogo dell'antica regione della Pisidia era la città che i greci chiamavano Sagalassos, nei pressi dell'odierna Ağlasun, in Turchia. L'egittologo francese Gaston Maspero suggerì, per assonanza, di considerare Sagalassos come possibile luogo d'origine dei Šekeleš. Tuttavia, la città viene menzionata nelle Gesta di Hattusili I e in altri testi ittiti con il nome di Šal-la-aḫ-šu-wa. - Anatolia e Sagalassos