Yo-ho, yo-ho, a seren’s life for me!

Louise A. Hitchcock, Aren M. Maeir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Historical accounts indicate pirates were able to create culturally mixed tribal entities and identities by incorporating new followers from different cultures into their social structure. This article suggests that upheavals at the end of the Bronze Age inter alia led to the formation of pirate bands of ‘Sea Peoples’ composed of non-elites, including sailors, disenfranchised warriors, mercenaries, workers, craft workers and peasants from the Mediterranean social network. We discuss how historical accounts of piracy may enable us to model the Sea Peoples’ phenomenon through the identification of patterns in pirate culture including social organization and geography and we suggest that piracy was a mechanism for limited migration and transmission of foreign cultural traits. One tribe of these blended cultures, the Peleset, settled among the indigenous Canaanites, forming a new entity, the Philistines. We propose that their leaders assumed the Luwian title tarwanis (seren) or military leader, indicative of their tumultuous past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-640
Number of pages17
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
LAH’s research was supported by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project [grant number 1093713] and Australian Archaeological Research Institute, Athens. AMM’s research was partially funded (with J. Maran) by a grant from the German Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development [GIF; grant number 1080 132.4/2009] and an Israel Science Foundation Individual Research Grant [grant number 100/13].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • Early Iron age
  • Late Bronze age
  • Mediterranean
  • Philistines
  • Piracy
  • Sea peoples


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