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WARFARE OR PIRACY?

DESCRIBING AND DEFINING NAVAL COMBAT IN THE
LATE BRONZE-EARLY IRON AEGEAN AND EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN
Jeffrey P. Emanuel, Harvard University
Paper presented at the international conference ‘The Aegean and the Levant at the
Turn of the Bronze and Iron Ages,’ University of Warsaw, Sept. 27-28, 2016

Greetings, and thank you. Today I’d like to pick up a thread that, I think, has been in
need of some theoretical attention for some time: namely, the difference between warfare
and piracy when it comes to naval conflict in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age
transition. Of course, Aren Maeir and Louise Hitchcock in particular have contributed a
great deal to the discussion of the Sea Peoples and pirate groups of late,1 and I’ve done
some recent writing on what we might call (following Michael Wedde) a Galley
Subculture, or a charismatically-led society built around galleys, rowing crews, and their
captains.2

Here, though, I want to focus on theory, which I think is timely, as the acts themselves –
warfare and piracy – are still not clearly delineated. In this talk, I propose to explore to
just what degree that is possible.

As we all know, evidence from the end of the Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean is
spectacular in its portrayal of a chaotic time of transition, with textual references to
events that modern scholars have vividly interpreted as lightning-fast attacks by enemy
ships that appear from nowhere, pillage and set fire to cities, and quickly disappear,
leaving behind only ruin and, in the cases where survivors remained to feel it, fear. These

1
Hitchcock and Maeir, “Yo-ho, Yo-ho, a Seren’s Life for Me!” World Archaeology 46.4 (2014), 624-640;
“A Pirate’s Life for Me: The Maritime Culture of the Sea Peoples,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly (in
press)
2
Wedde, “The Mycenaean Galley in Context: From Fact to Idée Fixe,” in Laffineur and Greco (eds.),
Emporia: Aegeans in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean (Liège, 2005), 29-38

© Jeffrey P. Emanuel 2016
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after all. as well as by fragments of pictorial pottery from the Greek mainland and western Anatolia showing ships of warriors facing off in combat on the high seas. of the events we see. and polities more vulnerable to them. Rather than amphibious combat being a new phenomenon. and each has been imputed with its own share of significance at different times in the past. and the multiplicity of possible answers. WARFARE OR PIRACY? But what. Further. and a wide variation in the size and complexity of combatants and the organizations they represent all serve to compound this issue. are ultra-recent developments – and we may begin to appreciate the complexity of the question. while the collapse of the great Late Bronze Age civilizations certainly attests to significant changes in the delicate balance of the Eastern Mediterranean world at this time. the established powers had experience dealing with these threats. Add to this the geopolitical and military realities of a world before the Westphalian state. a certain level of low–intensity conflict seems to have been a constant throughout the Late Bronze Age. which was likely part-cause and part-result of the displacement of people in the years surrounding the Late Bronze Age collapse. and rower’s gallery covered with partial decking. Shifting ever so slightly to differentiation between pirates and soldiers. These also included an increase in the scale of ship–based hostilities. Emanuel 2016 2 . irregulars. This sounds good. armies meet each other in a series of battles for the purpose of serving a larger strategic goal. These included the rapid spread of improvements in maritime technology. In spite of this. in the grand scheme. declared and undeclared conflicts. crow’s nest. with the development of the oared galley.texts and inscriptions are complemented by the famous sea battle depiction from Medinet Habu. who. The significance of these individual data points can certainly be overstated.” and who a “pirate”? © Jeffrey P. it seems like it should be simple. each as potentially correct as the last. in war. before the Geneva conventions and law of armed conflict. brailed sailing rig. can be considered what we might call a “lawful combatant. in this period three millennia prior to our current laws of war. and what piracy? How do we define each of these? On the surface. should be considered warfare. whose painted original must have been striking to behold. and before the advent of professional standing armies – all of which. and at a time when texts like the Bible speak approvingly of treating conquered cities to the ḥērem. but it doesn’t take more than a few moments’ thought to recognize that this is a simplistic approach. Nonstate actors. a combination of internal and external factors in the late 13th and early 12th centuries combined to make seaborne attacks more effective than they had been in the past.

Evidence from 18th dynasty sources suggest that both Egypt and Cyprus in particular were regular targets of seaborne raiders. Emanuel 2016 3 . Easy! Right? In seriousness. these are obviously difficult questions. to leave the discussion a bit less cloudy than when we began! BACKGROUND Let us briefly tour the evidence – most. probably by multiple aggressors.This should be a simple question. Once again pirate and legitimate soldier. who can’t tell a pirate apart from a soldier? How hard can this be? Let’s look again. shouldn’t it? After all. this time using more chronologically appropriate visuals. © Jeffrey P. My hope in the next fifteen to twenty minutes is to begin the process of teasing out an answer – or. which have been debated for centuries and more. of which will be well familiar to this audience – and then begin the discussion. at very least. and which certainly won’t be definitively or permanently answered in a single lecture. if not all.

of course.”4 In a separate inscription. nor to people with a single cohesive identity. This may be echoed. wage annual campaigns against his own territory (EA 38). 120 © Jeffrey P. an Egyptian inscription commissioned by Amenhotep son of Hapu. he claims. suggests that these raids may have been staged from the Cypriot coast. of course.”5 It’s been assumed.” so that Lower Egypt can “spend the night sleeping peacefully. at least some of the time. Ramesside Inscriptions Translated and Annotated: Translations II (Cambridge. as may the series of forts Ramesses II established. or from a combination of both.3 Ramesses. one seems likely to have been defense of the desert coast and the fertile Nile Delta from sea raiders. on the Tanis II rhetorical stele. but there is no clear evidence that this is the case. Ramesses mentions the defeat and conscription of seaborne Sherden warriors “whom none could ever fight against. the defeat of this “bold–hearted” enemy seems to have coincided with a temporary dissipation of the maritime threat to Egypt. which seems to have lasted for the remainder of Ramesses II’s reign. The defeat and capture of the Sherden and the raiders mentioned in the Aswan stele may have contributed to this. whose letter to the Egyptian pharaoh simultaneously declares his own innocence with regard to the charge of sanctioning raids on Egypt.Some of these.” which seems likely to have been a measure against maritime raiders. the “mixed multitude” nature of these raiders suggests that even references to the same “groups” might not refer to the people from the same point of origin. of course. 182 5 ibid. 1996). While these fortresses likely served multiple purposes. §916 4 Kitchen. dating to the reign of Amenhotep III. from restless eastward–looking Libyans. Emanuel 2016 4 . and denounces the “men of Lukki” whom. on a grander scale. were identified with the geographic region of Lycia by the king of Alashiya. in the coastal fortresses of Ramesses II. in warships from the midst of the Sea. the likelihood – that this text refers to a different adversary. that this was the same battle as that referenced in the Aswan stele. Meanwhile. The aggressor isn’t named in the Aswan inscription. who came bold-[hearted]. Based on its absence from extant written accounts. This seems particularly true for 3 Breasted. laid claim in his second year to having “‘destroyed’ or ‘captured’ the warriors of the Great Green (Sea). on the other hand. beginning in the Delta and concluding 300 kilometers west on the North African coast. The pharaoh’s apparent accusation of Alashiyan complicity or responsibility. 1906–7). I would argue. Ancient Records of Egypt 2 (Chicago. refers to establishing defenses “at the heads of the river– mouths. those whom none could withstand. Likewise. and the frequency with which the coasts of Egypt seem to have been raided during this period certainly supports the possibility – or.

and elsewhere were at times. RS 20. Now if other ships of the enemy turn up.] Surround your towns with walls. ΠΟΛΥΜΑΘΕΙΑ (Maastricht.). bring troops and chariotry inside. 2015).. the small. Cyprus. 1998). arose once again in Pharaonic records. [..” in Wachsmann. a letter from ‘Ammurapi to the king of Alašiya. an “isolated military outpost reared against a backdrop of near total emptiness” located at the western edge of the Egyptian frontier. 29-42 7 Hoftijzer and Van Soldt. this time in the accounts of Merneptah and.” In Nawracala and Nawracala (eds. 343–4 8 ibid. Doesn’t my father know that all of my infantry and [chariotry] are stationed in Hatti.Zawiyet Umm el–Rakham.. send me a report. as well as larger powers who owned an interest in them.so that I will know. which states that “(the) twenty enemy ships – even before they would reach the mountain (shore) – have not stayed around but have quickly moved on. ultimately. as if on cue. lagooned site that may have served as a revictualing station for mariners. Cilicia. As these defenses went out of use. although this is obviously not the case if the latter was sent from Karkemish. or perhaps even have been a base for pirates. Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant (College Station.6 Effective as they may have been for the duration of his lengthy reign. Emanuel 2016 5 . has traditionally been seen as a response to RSL 1. Two texts from Ugarit are both particularly relevant and often treated as companion letters. This fortress sat a scant 20 km west of Marsa Matruh. RSL 1.” he writes. “War Bates Island bei Marsa Matruth ein Piratennest? Ein Beitrag zur frühen Geschichte der Seevölker. and may have been the southwesternmost known point on the Late Bronze Age maritime trading circuit. ‘Ammurapi writes that “the ships of the enemy have been coming. much as the coastal waters of Crete. [Then] wait at full strength for the enemy. and those we associate with them. “make yourself as strong as possible. sea raiders. Now.238. Frequently–cited texts from Hatti and Ugarit of likely 13th and early 12th century date may provide further evidence for continuous conflict between maritime raiders and coastal polities. In the first.”8 Also relevant is a report sent from the prefect of Alašiya to ‘Ammurapi. 343 © Jeffrey P. “Texts from Ugarit Pertaining to Seafaring. we go outside Egypt.. and where they have pitched camp we do not 6 Bietak.”7 The second text. those of Ramesses III. They have been setting fire to my cities and have done harm to the land. the sender – likely either the king of Alashiya or the king of Karkemish – admonishes King ‘Ammurapi of Ugarit to prepare the city against a rapidly– approaching seaborne enemy: “If indeed they have spotted [enemy] ships. Ramesses II’s line of fortresses does not appear to have survived beyond his death in 1213 BCE. and that all of my ships are stationed in the land of Lukka?” He concludes with a report and a plea: “Now the seven ships of the enemy which have been coming have done harm to us.

but they also raise several questions. Shelley Wachsmann seems to regard the difference as hinging on the involvement or absence of a state (in the form of troops or vessels). there was no distinction to be made between this and warfare. Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant (College Station. he classifies the aforementioned Egyptian defeat of Sherden “in the midst of the sea” that is recounted in Tanis II. the relationship between these texts is difficult to discern. why were Ammurapi’s ships “stationed in the land of Lukka” instead of defending their home port at this time of need? Whatever the reason for Ugarit’s dire defensive situation. and that Ugarit finally met an aggressor whose attacks it could neither fend off nor recover from. particularly from the sea. the destruction and permanent abandonment of the site attests to the fact that something did eventually change in the early 12th century. if you will. of any clear argument and historiographical reconstruction. seven ships seems to have been sufficient to cause significant damage to the lands under Ammurapi’s control.238 may have contained up to 350 rowers (and. even if that involvement is one- sided. nor if they are representative of anything other than the standard threats a wealthy coastal polity had to endure from the sea simply as what we might call “the price of doing business.”9 These numbers presented no small threat: depending on their size. as noted above. We cannot be certain where these texts fit in Ugarit’s late history.know.” However. 317–21 © Jeffrey P. while the twenty ships mentioned in RS 20. as is their meaning. relatedly. They clearly speak of a threat. while it has been prominently argued that. potential warriors). from state-sponsored to private. in the Bronze Age.18 may have collectively contained as many as one thousand if each was a fifty–oared pentekontor. or were they part of a coordinated and systematic campaign against the coasts of Syria and Cyprus? And. WARFARE AND PIRACY So what in this documentary evidence should be seen as piracy. and of circumstances which seem to have prevented Ugarit from mounting a proper defense of its borders. Emanuel 2016 6 . Were these individual piratical attacks. 1998). and what as warfare? The issue is one of theory and terminology – the Scylla and Charybdis. and the three sea battles against the “enemies of 9 ibid 10 Wachsmann. therefore. the seven ships listen in RS 20. The term “piracy” has consistently been used to describe sea attacks of almost any kind. Traditional assumptions aside. In the chapter of his Seagoing Ships and Seamanship in the Bronze Age Levant that focuses on war and piracy at sea.10 For example.

for example. “without some distinctive terminology. based on the evidence at hand. 1999).”11 However. has declined to split hairs on the issue. he continues in this vein. “Piracy. In other words. then it seems to have been commonplace in the ancient Mediterranean world by the Late Bronze Age. with whose work on piracy in the Greco-Roman world anybody studying this area must contend. Instead. gathering plunder. or even in the open water (as Tanis II seems to suggest). this would transform from piracy to war. be classified as piracy (and. Philip de Souza. so they cannot really be said to be practicing piracy. and the aggressors were unfortunate enough to come into contact with Egyptian troops.Alashiya” mentioned in the Hittite text KBo XII 38. he argues that piracy simply was not practiced in the Bronze Age. the distinction between them can be difficult to negotiate. 290-91 © Jeffrey P. (Oxford. 2010). However.” Citing the lack of terminological differentiation in ancient records. on the other hand – perhaps conducted by these same enemies – are classified as piracy. under this paradigm. rightly so). and escaping to open water. “It cannot be said that there is evidence of piracy in the historical records. if something went awry on that raid. 16–17 12 de Souza. Piracy in the Graeco-Roman World (Cambridge. striking quickly. as warfare. saying “It seems to me that there is no other possible label for this activity than warfare. and go a step further by suggesting that we can begin to draw a distinction between warfare and piracy. but that of the state actor.). Emanuel 2016 7 .” as he has written elsewhere that. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome 5. People using ships to plunder coastal settlements are not called pirates. 11 de Souza. then that would. Raids. a fleet of nonstate actors – for example a half-dozen ships of Lukka. at least for our own purposes. in my view. either while ashore (as described in Odyssey xiv). even if their involvement is one-sided. this sets up a situation we may call “de Souza versus de Souza.” he writes. or Odysseus’ fictional Aegean raiders – were to conduct a successful raid on the Egyptian coast. “If piracy is defined in general terms as any form of armed robbery involving the use of ships. under this system. While acts of war and of piracy can be placed into these categories. or Sherden. while afloat but still in sight of land (as in the Medinet Habu relief). If.” in Gagarin and Fantham (eds. it is not the involvement of the nonstate actor that dictates the terminology employed to describe this type of action or conflict.12 I would agree with this latter statement.” noting some of the texts we have already mentioned here as evidence.

A glimpse of this can be seen in el Amarna 38. you say to me.”14 An important corollary to this is that. Treatise on International Law (New York. in his book The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations. that he should molest the sea.. As Augustine wrote. but one thing they all have in common.”15 WAR AND WARFARE Conversely. this seems overly restrictive.” Hall continued his excursus on piracy by defining the term as “violence done upon the ocean or unappropriated lands. 19th century attorney William Edward Hall noted that.” in Powell (ed.). with the king of Alashiya saying. In the recently-published and highly publicized U. You do it with a great fleet and are called an emperor. Army field manual on Counterinsurgency. in a retelling of a Ciceronian anecdote. Emanuel 2016 8 .4. 185 14 Hall. for violence – even organized violence – to be classified as war or warfare.STATE VS.” Daniel Heller-Roazen. de Civ. low-intensity combat against even a loosely organized nonstate threat as warfare..’”13 This point of view rings true across the millennia. their actions are a violation against their own state as well as that of their victims. by a body of men acting independently of any politically organized society. NONSTATE It is certainly true that piracy typically involves nonstate actors. is participation by multiple states or statelike actors required? Contra Rousseau.If men from my country were (with them). ‘Men from your country were with them.S. 2009). now-retired generals David Petraeus and James Amos 13 Aug. after all. and their own community can be responsible for disciplining the offenders. 144 © Jeffrey P. Dei IV. When the king asked him what he was thinking of. 2002). send (them back) and I will act as I see fit. “Greek Piracy. they are done under conditions which render it impossible or unfair to hold any state responsible for their commission. “Piracy includes acts differing much from each other in kind and in moral value. notes that pirates have traditionally been “defined as stateless persons for whose acts on the high seas no state would be held accountable. he said with defiant independence: ‘The same as you when you molest the world! Since I do this with a little ship I am called a pirate.’ . The Greek World (London.25. In his Treatise on International Law. 1890). “My brother. if the perpetrators do belong to a state or organized community. a state could well regard ongoing. via de Souza. or within the territory of a state through descent from the sea. “It was an elegant and true reply that was made to Alexander the Great by a certain pirate whom he had captured. The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations (New York. 253 15 Heller-Roazen. for example.

“while most would agree with a proposition that all war is organized violence. coordinated land and sea campaigns by a confederation of tribes. but warfare is waged at the strategic level.” and “organized groups” provide rightly “extend[s] the phenomenon of warfare to a large range of societies. as military historian David Buffaloe has correctly noted. The Greek World (London. Medieval Warfare: Theory and Practice of War in Europe. is important.” in: Reyna and Downs (eds. for the purpose of a strategic objective. but of the organization they represent. Emanuel 2016 9 .”22 Thus.”16 In the mid-1970s.defined warfare as “a violent clash of interests between organized groups characterized by the use of force” and noted that the means these “organized groups” utilize “to achieve [their] goals are not limited to conventional forces employed by nation-states. offered a similarly broad definition by suggesting that it be defined as “any form of ongoing armed violence between bands of men. writing on the medieval period. as anthropologist Stephen Reyna has noted. 2006). via de Souza.).”19 Historian Helen Nicholson. 1 21 Reyna. while noting that “warfare is on one phenomenon of the varying expression of aggression in varying institutional settings. 2006). “A Mode of Domination Approach to Organized Violence. DC. Anthropologists Allen Johnson and Timothy Earle.). 2003). (New Haven. Dei IV. Counterinsurgency (Washington. de Civ. Webster’s dictionary defined war as “a state of open and declared hostile conflict between political units. as the only clear factor that it serves to differentiate warfare from any other form of armed violence is its “ongoing” nature. 30 22 Buffaloe.4. Battles are fought at the tactical level and campaigns at the operational level.” in Powell (ed. 1985).25. “Greek Piracy. we should not be too broad in our definition. but is one part of an ongoing strategic struggle that we may call warfare. “By its very nature. 2 © Jeffrey P. warfare is a struggle at the strategic level. After all. 2000). The Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State (Stanford. both of the conflict and of its participants.” “political communities. 33 20 Nicholson. Clearly. a battle is not itself a war. 2000). considered all “organized aggression” to be warfare. Studying War: Anthropological Perspectives (Langhorne. 3rd ed. as well as the nature and scope of that conflict. 185 18 Otterbein. The Evolution of War: A Cross-Cultural Study. 2002).”21 The level of organization. for example. 3 19 Johnson and Earle. 1–1 17 Aug.”20 I would argue that these last definitions are far too broad. then this can very well be defined as 16 United States Army. If the correct reading of Ramesses III’s records at Medinet Habu and in the Great Harris Papyrus is one of systematic.” while historian of warfare Keith Otterbein defined the term as “armed combat between political communities. 300-1500 (New York.”18 However. Defining Asymmetric Warfare (Arlington.”17 The flexibility on state status that terns like “political units. few would agree with its converse that all organized violence is war. as is size – not necessarily of those involved in the conflict.

who unequivocally declared that “acts which are allowed in war. confused with piracy is hardly surprising given the similarities in the aims and methods of the two activities. the forced appropriation of ships and merchandise.143. However. who claimed that he fought “ships of Alashiya” three times at sea.” in Singer.warfare. British Privateering Enterprise in the 18th Century (Exeter. a tool of war and a factor in the diplomacy between nations. which address the Hittite viceroy at Karkemish’s struggle with an enemy that had established a “bridgehead” in in Mukish. while considered “but one remove from pira[cy]. Perhaps this includes those we associate with the ‘Sea Peoples. “might serve public as well as private interests. which. Should the enemy movement in Mukish be connected to the aforementioned accounts of seaborne attack. an end which was often achieved by violent means. Both privateersman and pirate were intent on enriching themselves at the expense of other maritime travelers. acts between states that are piratical in nature would be classified as privateering. 2011). The Calm Before the Storm (Atlanta. This position was perhaps most explicitly defended by William Hall. and then met this enemy once again on land. “A Political History of Ugarit. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (New York.”26 23 Singer. “legitimate war. PIRACY AND PRIVATEERING On the other hand. at once a business opportunity. piracy itself is not carried out between states.402 and 34.”24 This is in keeping with the aforementioned definition of “piracy” that includes the requirement that no state be able to be held liable for its perpetrators. then. to quote Fernand Braudel. 866 26 Starkey.” Starkey further notes the fact “that privateering was. 1990). and still is. could be read similarly. 1972).” is itself. Emanuel 2016 10 . particularly if they are correctly combined – as Itamar Singer suggested23 – with Ras Shamra texts 16.’ On the other hand. while the situation described by Šuppiluliuma II in KBo XII 38. it could just as easily be read less as warfare than as a tenacious a counter-piracy operation against an equally tenacious enemy. there had always been a theoretical distinction between the two forms of predation. are not [themselves] piratical. while acts of a piratical nature can be perpetrated by one state or political unit against another. 256 25 Braudel. This might also be seen in the Ugaritic texts of seaborne assault that we discussed earlier. 119–21 24 Hall 1890. when authorized by a politically organized society. and seen as a land component of a combined land and sea assault? If we accept these interpretations. 13. At its most extreme. then they seem to suggest that the tactic of parallel land and sea assaults was the modus operandi of at least some groups at this time.”25 which. 19 © Jeffrey P. as historian David Starkey has explained.

28 On the other hand. The use of privateers. while pirates likely cannot. 8. of course. 36–7 © Jeffrey P. both in war proper and to harass adversaries. table 1. and we should thus recognize that non-state actors committing piratical acts on behalf of a supportive state are very much the ancient equivalent of the privateer. nor to practice piracy. The lack of what we may now think of as formal privateer status does not mean that this function did not exist at the end of the Bronze Age. Mercenaries. adapted and reproduced above. state sanction of piratical acts (either de facto or de jure) obviously predates the conflicts of late medieval and early modern history. the difference between a Privateer and a Pirate is no more and no less than the state’s investment in each. we seem to be closing in on the heart of the mater: namely. from the Classical to the Hellenistic periods. Emanuel 2016 11 . is well documented in Greek history in particular. Pirates. that freebooting sailors in at the end of the Late Bronze Age were carrying physical letters of marque while plundering foreign ships. However. for the purpose both of politically undermining and of physically and economically harming the other.” although the demarcation between campaigning. At this point. This is not to say that states involved in a conflict with each other cannot (or do not) consider their adversary to be engaging in piracy through certain seaborne acts of violence. nor are they to join in a campaign with the enemy against the Athenians. an Athenian treaty from the 5th century BCE clearly differentiates between enemies of the state and pirates. if war and warfare require the involvement (and assent) of the state or similar organized political unit. at least in the form we think of it. both from the medieval period and late medieval and modern. declaring that their partners in the agreement are “not to admit pirates. 1996).As we see from historian Janice Thomson’s helpful matrix. or 27 Thomson.1 28 de Souza 1999. and Sovereigns State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe (Princeton. both Demosthenes of Athens and Philip II of Macedon accused each other of engaging in (and enabling) piracy. then privateers can be said to have been participants in war. is an invention of the early second millennium CE.27 It is unlikely. In a 4th century BCE example. such documentation.

with the latter portion being a response borne of frustration. 12 32 Keegan. irregular fighters have been described as “cruel to the weak and cowardly in the face of the brave” – a statement that is likely only half true. Only barbarians utilized the element of surprise.” in Swiny et al.32 Likewise. GUERRILLA AND ASYMMETRIC WARFARE Piratical operations can also be seen as a form of guerrilla warfare on the sea. Res Maritimae: Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean from Prehistory to Late Antiquity (Atlanta. 32 30 Gosse. Emanuel 2016 12 . “This is 29 IG I 75:6-10. and to wait until their adversary had arrived and completed preparations before engaging. Success breeding success. 1993). at least for a time. and as it became more favorable to engage in what we might call above-board activities. civilized people were expected to communicate both the date and location of a battle. and the image of ‘Sea Peoples’ familiar to us from the Egyptian sources emerged.”31 This was a reversible condition. this can lead to collaboration between groups. “Nomads of the Sea. (eds. which Michal Artzy so aptly summed by noting that. in Gosse’s words. Thus. counter-piracy operations could be classified as asymmetric warfare.”33 Documentary sources suggest that in the Late Bronze Age. a number may have “reverted to marauding practices. which was the difference between pirates and the enemy. exploiting their opponents’ weaknesses by attacking under cover of darkness and avoiding pitched battle with regular troops. or a lack of sufficient prey to support it can lead to the disintegration of the larger group.). piracy is initially conducted by small groups.conventional warfare. 1–2 31 Artzy. 9 33 Buffaloe 2006. In this cycle. they could re-enter what we might call “civilized society” at will. effectively becoming a mercenary navy.”30 Left out of this cycle. or “nontraditional warfare waged between a militarily superior power and one or more inferior powers. this confederation can also grow to the point where it is not just recognized by one or more states. as economic conditions became less favorable for “fringe” merchants and mariners. Long looked down upon by states that boasted effective armies. is the liminality between trader or other maritime actor and pirate. de Souza 1999. writing in the early 20th century. and piracy may be as relevant here as that which de Souza emphasized. “what had been piracy then for a time became war. internal conflict. described as a “well- defined cycle” of piracy. 1997). which we should add. which work independently. and in that war the vessels of both sides were pirates to the other. While unwieldy size. Quoting Mario Liverani. but becomes allied with them. using their privately-owned boats to pick off the most vulnerable prey. though.29 This fits with what Philip Gosse. and greater danger to merchantmen. A History of Warfare (London. 17 © Jeffrey P. The History of Piracy (New York. 1932).

In the ancient records. guerrilla affair. such tactics offered the best chance not only of success. as are the unnamed threats that armed escorts. thus making true warfare and guerrilla activity on land. However. hit-and- run raids conducted from the sea. indistinguishable only for the non-state actor. of small moral stature. it seems that we must come down to some degree on the side of Obi-Wan Kenobi: the definitions of warfare and piracy depend.” should in fact be classified as piracy. 1600-1100 BC (New York. Because of this. Contra de Souza. I should reiterate that the gray area between warfare and piracy remains large. Emanuel 2016 13 . I hope that it has been made clear over the course of the last twenty minutes that there are lines between warfare and piracy. International Relations in the Ancient Near East. Thank you. I believe we may safely say that we have shifted from banditry on the sea to warfare (even if actions taken by either side can be described as piratical in their nature). and piracy at sea. it is just guerrilla activity – small-scale warfare.. for the barbarian – or for any nonstate actor – war as. 2001). CONCLUSION However. likely always hinge on at least some element of “you’ll know it when you see it. for those without a professionally trained and equipped military force at their disposal. I’ll be glad to take your questions and comments. However.” Ultimately. once confederations like those described by Ramesses III become involved. by its nature. like the U. we can safely say that we are seeing elements of both.”34 However. and the conversation will. Supreme Court’s 1964 ruling on obscenity.S. and that those can be drawn back through time to the Late Bronze Age.. such as those carried out year after year by the “men of Lukki. by small people. to at least some degree. 109 © Jeffrey P. then. an irregular. seem to have been employed to protect against. such as those that may have been aboard the Ulu Burun ship. on your point of view. Piracy was similarly hit-and-run. but of survival.not war. 34 Liverani. where we can differentiate – from the point of view of our various actors – between the two. With that. rather than being unable to differentiate between warfare and piracy. lest I conclude this with a false sense of certainty. at least in part for the same reason.