Where Did The Shardana, Warrior Mercenaries Of Egypt Originate From?

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Horned warrior mercenary ( AlainAlexander/Adobe Stock)

Where Did The Shardana, Warrior Mercenaries Of Egypt Originate From?

A 13th-century BC inscription of Ramesses II reads: “The unruly Sherden whom no one had ever known to combat, they came boldly (sailing) in their warships from the midst of the sea, none being able to withstand them,” referring to a group of mercenaries, called the Shardana / Sherden, famed to be the greatest of all warriors. The Shardana were recruited as mercenaries as early on as the reign of Amenhotep III/IV, when they were mentioned in the royal Egyptian correspondence found at Amarna as having served the Prince of Byblos. Later, for a period of more than 200 years from the time of Ramesses II, they often served as mercenaries for the Egyptian kings. In Egypt, they were stationed in garrisons called the “Strongholds of the Sherden” that were located throughout the land.

Members of Ramesses II's Sherden personal guard in a relief in Abu Simbel. (Public Domain)

Members of Ramesses II's Sherden personal guard in a relief in Abu Simbel. (Public Domain)

The Shardana in History

The Shardana (šrdn) were mentioned as having participated in raids against Egypt in the time of Ramesses II, more than one hundred years before the Trojan War. They were probably the same people as the še–er–ta–an–nu (a possible Akkadian equivalent for the Egyptian term, šrdn) who were involved in earlier raids during the reign of Amenhotep III (fl. c. 1378-1339 BC), when pirates raided the Egyptian coastline.


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