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The “hemming in” theory of Late Ramesside policy is the name I have given to the hypothesis which states that, after a supposed Philistine invasion in the late 1180s or 70s BC, Ramesses III attempted to “hem in” the already-settled Philistines by constructing a series of forts/governor’s residencies around their territory. This hypothesis is supported by the fortification of such sites as Tell el-Hesi City IV, Tel Sera IX, Tell el-Farah S., Gezer XIV, and Tel Mor VI and V. However, if Ramesses III was strong enough to fortify the border with Philistia, he was certainly powerful enough to attack it. However, no Philistine site shows signs of destruction in the period immediately after the Philistine conquest of Philistia. Also, the “hemming in” model presumes that there was little to no trade between such cities as Lachish VI and Ashkelon. However, the archaeological data argues otherwise, as many marine fish bones were discovered at Lachish VI, while not a single sherd of Philistine Monochrome has been discovered there. This strongly argues that Lachish VI and Ashkelon Phase 20 were not contemporary, and that Lachish VI and Ashkelon Phase 21 were. Thus, it is probable that the line of Egyptian governor’s residencies built on the Via Maris was simply an extension of the earlier Egyptian “Way of Horus” fortification line, and that the decline of Egypt’s Levantine presence at the end of the 12th century was due to a second Philistine invasion. It is also probable Gath was an integral part of Egypt’s 12th century Via Maris fortification line, as made probable by the excavation results from there.

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