The Battle of Djahy of King Ramses III was a major land battle between the forces of Pharaoh Ramesses III and the Sea Peoples who intended to invade and conquer Egypt. The conflict occurred on the Egyptian Empire’s easternmost frontier in Djahy, or modern-day southern Lebanon, in the eighth year of Ramesses III or about c. 1178 BC. In this battle the Egyptians, led by Ramesses III, defeated the Sea Peoples, who were attempting to invade Egypt by land and sea. Almost all that is known about the battle comes from the mortuary temple of Ramesses III in Medinet Habu. The description of the battle and prisoners is documented in detail on the temple’s walls, which also contain the longest hieroglyphic inscription known. Temple reliefs feature many bound prisoners defeated in battle.

Historical background
The battle occurred during the Bronze Age collapse, a prolonged period of region-wide droughts, crop failures, depopulation, invasions, and collapse of urban centers. It is likely that the Nile-irrigated lands remained fruitful and would have been highly desirable to Egypt’s neighbors. During this chaotic time, a new group of people from the north, the Sea Peoples, attacked and plundered various Near Eastern powers. Ramesses III had previously defeated an attack by the Libyans on the Egyptian Empire’s western frontier, in his fifth year (1181 B.C.E.). Many 12th century BC civilizations were destroyed by the Sea Peoples and other migrating nations. The Hittite Empire fell, as did the Mycenaean civilization, the kingdom of Alashiya (which consisted of part or all of Cyprus) and Ugarit, and other cultures. The Sea Peoples moved around the eastern Mediterranean, attacking the coasts of Anatolia, Cyprus, Syria and Canaan, before attempting an invasion of Egypt in the 1180s.

Aftermath While the battle ended with an Egyptian victory, Egypt’s war with the Sea Peoples was not yet over. The Sea Peoples would attack Egypt proper with their naval fleet, around the mouth of the Nile River. These invaders were defeated in the Battle of the Delta during which many were either killed by Egyptian archers or dragged from their boats and killed on the banks of the Nile River by Ramesses III’s army. Despite the military victories, Egypt could not ultimately prevent them from settling in the eastern parts of their empire decades later. With this conflict, and a subsequent second battle with invading Libyan tribes in Year 11 of Ramesses III, Egypt’s treasury was depleted, and the empire would never fully recover. The Egyptian Empire over Asia and Nubia would be permanently lost less than 80 years after Ramesses III’s reign under Ramesses XI, the last king of Egypt’s New Kingdom.