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Discovery of 3,000-Year-Old Philistine Cemetery May Change History


A team of researchers have unearthed the first known cemetery of the Philistines in southern Israel, which may reveal the origins of the famous Hebrew Biblical villains, who made up one of the tribes of Sea Peoples. Due to the discovery, many answers have finally been found regarding these mysterious people.

The cemetery was actually unearthed in 2013, but archaeologists kept their discovery secret for three years until all excavations had been completed. A thorough examination of the burials provides further support to the view that the Philistines came from the Aegean Sea region. Moreover, they had very close ties with the Phoenicians.

Aegean Sea Map ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The impressive discovery is the most important finding in the history of research related to the Philistines. As Lawrence E. Stager, the Professor of the Archeology of Israel, Emeritus, at Harvard University said:

“Ninety-nine percent of the chapters and articles written about Philistine burial customs should be revised or ignored now that we have the first and only Philistine cemetery.''

According to National Geographic , the discovery of the large cemetery took place outside the walls of the ancient city of the Philistines – Tel Ashkelon. It was the most important and thriving Philistine settlement and harbor between the 12 th and 7 th centuries BC. After thirty years of excavations, the researchers, led by Lawrence E. Stager, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985, are finally able to answer some of the questions related to the Philistines.

An Excavation taking place in Ashkelon, Israel

The cemetery, which dates to between 11 th and 8 th centuries BC, contains the remains of more than 211 people. The major advantage of the cemetery is that it revealed not just one or two individuals, but a whole population, and the remains of people of different genders and ages. The tombs were not looted and had remained undisturbed for millennia, so they contain information that puts a fresh light on the origins of the Philistines. There is no evidence of any trauma on the bones, which suggests that these people died due to the natural reasons, not from war or any other kind of violence.

Moreover, due to the discovery, the researchers are able to learn about the lifestyles and burial rituals of these mysterious people. It seems that the Philistines were very different from the Canaanites and the highlanders in the east. The burials were also somehow different than the ones, which belong to other tribes of the Middle east. The researchers discovered about 150 cremated people buried in oval pits. Four of them were deposited in burial chamber tombs. Similar practices can be observed in Aegean cultures. Apart from the 150 individual pit graves, six burial chambers with multiple bodies were discovered.

A child burial is excavated at Ashkelon. The few children and infants buried in the cemetery were interred with a covering or "blanket" of broken pottery. PHOTOGRAPH BY MELISSA AJA FOR THE LEON LEVY EXPEDITION TO ASHKELON

Inside the tombs many typical burial goods were found, including: juglets, bowls, storage jars, spear points, arrowheads, two bottles of perfumes and a few cases of jewelry. The latest pottery comes from the 7 th century BC, what suggests that during this period the burial chambers were closed. Future examinations with the use of DNA tests may bring more information.

The Philistines are one of the mysterious tribes of the ''Sea Peoples''. For many centuries, it was unknown where they come from. As Alicia McDermott from Ancient Origins wrote in September 22, 2015:

''The Sea Peoples were a group of tribes that arose and battled against ancient Mediterranean communities from 1276-1178 BC. At the time the victims of their barrages called them: theSherden, the Sheklesh, Lukka, Tursha, Peleset and Akawasha. Lack of concrete evidence has left the history of the Sea Peoples to be heavily debated in the archaeological community. Scholars believe that it is likely the identity of the warrior Sea Peoples is Etruscan/Trojan, Italian, Philistine, Mycenaen or even Minoan.

Procession of Philistine Captives at Medinet-habu

A new study focuses on one of these alleged Sea Peoples – the Philistines. The origin of where they came from has also been a longstanding question for archaeologists. The past assumption was that as they were after all, “sea” people, they must be based from a location near water. The new discovery goes against this previously held idea. Tel Tayinat/Tell Tayinat (ancient Kunulua), Turkey was previously thought to have been just one of the many locations invaded by the Philistines, however new research proposes that they may have their origins in that location instead. The common previously held belief was that the Philistines were originally from the Aegean or Cyprus regions.

If this new report of the Philistine “base” being the remote site in southeast Turkey is in fact true, then it would show that the Philistines were present when many of the great civilizations collapsed and somehow they were exempt from a similar fate.''


King Solomon-era Palace Found in Biblical Gezer

Monumental 3000-year-old ruins, Philistine pottery support biblical tales of Gezer's rise, and fall to a jealous pharaoh.

Aerial view of the palatial building found in ancient Gezer, which archaeologists have tentatively dated to King Solomon's time. Tel Gezer Excavation Project, Steven M. Ortiz

A palatial building dating to the era of King Solomon 3000 years ago has been discovered in the royal city of Gezer, though there is no evidence which of the Israelite kings lived there, if any.


Wesleyan Group Helps Discover First Philistine Cemetery

Assistant professor Kate Birney (pictured in foreground wearing a blue shirt and tan hat) and Joy Feinberg 󈧗 (pictured in back with a long-sleeve shirt) work to unearth skeletons and artifacts buried in a Philistine cemetery.

Two Wesleyan students, one recent alumna and a faculty member contributed to a groundbreaking discovery of the first Philistine cemetery, a crowning achievement of more than 30 years of excavation in Ashkelon, Israel. Archaeologists and scholars have long searched for the origin of the Philistines, and the discovery of the cemetery is poised to offer the key to this mystery. Findings from the cemetery, dated to the 11th–8th centuries BCE, may well support the claim – long inferred and recorded in the Bible – that the Philistines were migrants to the shores of ancient Israel who arrived from lands to the West around the 12th century BCE.

Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of art history, is the assistant director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon and has been bringing Wesleyan students to the site since 2011 to participate in the research and excavation. The 3,000-year-old site, located in the southern district of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, offers clues to the Philistines’ way of life. Little is known about their origins.

Sarah McCully 󈧔 has worked for the Leon Levy Expedition in Ashkelon for three years.

This summer, Joy Feinberg 󈧗, Jaimie Marvin ’19 and Sarah McCully 󈧔 worked on the Philistine cemetery. McCully ’16, who came to Ashkelon with Birney years ago, is now a staff member for the Leon Levy Expedition. In addition, Sam Ingbar 󈧔, Hannah Thompson 󈧕, Maria Ma 󈧕 and Sabrina Rueber 󈧖 are also in Ashkelon this summer working on the excavation of a 7th century merchants’ neighborhood.

“It’s impossible to imagine working with bodies that are over 2,000 years old, and these are people who had lived and had lives and had families,” Feinberg said. “We get to now learn from them and look at a moment of history that hasn’t ever been seen before and it’s absolutely incredible.”

Excavation at the site of the newly discovered Philistine cemetery, particularly in areas where the burials were undisturbed (not reused or looted in antiquity), allows archaeologists and scholars to begin constructing a picture of the typical grave goods buried with the Philistines. Decorated juglets filled with what is assumed to have been perfumed oil, storage jars and small bowls make up the bulk of the grave goods. A few individuals were found wearing bracelets and earrings, and some were accompanied by their weapons, but the majority of the individuals were not buried with personal items, Birney said.

The Philistines buried their dead primarily in pits that were excavated for each individual: male or female, adult or child. Later, additional individuals were sometimes placed in the same pit, which was dug again along roughly the same lines, but the new individuals were interred with their own grave goods. Cremations, pit interments and multi-chambered tombs were also found in the cemetery.

Birney, top right, and fellow researchers work to remove skeletons from the cemetery. Bone samples taken from the site are undergoing DNA testing. Pictured at left, stones were robbed from the chamber after going out of use.

The Philistines are best known as the archenemy of ancient Israel from the Hebrew Bible, and excavations at the multiple sites, including Ashkelon, have demonstrated how culturally distinct they were from the Israelites of that period.

Artifacts uncovered at the site, including ceramics, jewelry and weapons, as well as the bones themselves, hold the promise of being able to connect the Philistines to related populations across the Mediterranean. To this end, bone samples taken from the site are currently undergoing three types of testing—DNA, radiocarbon and biological distance studies – in order to help ascertain the Philistines’ origin.

Ashkelon was a key Mediterranean port and center for maritime trade from the Bronze Age to the Crusades, when it was destroyed and left uninhabited until modern times. Sporadic excavation began in the 19th century, but the bulk of Ashkelon’s history was only revealed beginning in 1985 with the work of the Leon Levy Expedition. Several Biblical passages link the Philistines to ancient Crete. At the same time, archaeologists have long noted dramatic cultural changes in the Ashkelon region in the early 12th century BCE, roughly at the time when ancient Egyptian texts mention “Sea Peoples” moving into the Eastern Mediterranean. Using these clues, scholars have argued that the Philistines emigrated from the Aegean in the early Iron Age, bringing the cultural practices of their homeland, which appear to have been pointedly different from those prevailing at the time in the area.

The Leon Levy Expedition has been conducting large-scale excavations on the tell of ancient Ashkelon since 1985. The summer of 2016 is the final excavation season of the Leon Levy Expedition.

News regarding the Philistine cemetery discovery has already been featured in July’s National Geographic, a July 10 BBC broadcast, and the July 10 issue of The New York Times. Feinberg is featured in an Ashkelon Press video online here.

(All photos and video stills courtesy of Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon and Ashkelon Press)


Proof of Goliath’s people? A discovery that will change history

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Have researchers finally found proof of Goliath’s people? This archaeological discovery may finally help scientists answer one of the greatest enigmas – who were the Philistines and where did they come from?

The excavations, which lasted 30 years have resulted in a great find in Israel that can confirm the existence of one of the most mysterious people who appear in the Bible: the Philistines.

To date little was known about the Philistines –famed arch enemies of the Ancient Isrealites—who flourished in the Mediterranean somewhere during the 12th century BC. Researchers knew very little about the way of life, customs, and their exact origin remained a mystery.

In the Bible, the Philistines are described as arch enemies of Israel, a foreign people who settled in five major cities of Palestine, in the present territory of southern Israel and the Gaza Strip.

American archaeologists have discovered a Philistine cemetery with the remains of more than 200 people in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, reports The Times of Israel. The discovery of the first Philistine cemetery represents a great opportunity which will shed light on the most mysterious people mentioned in the Bible.

Researchers point out that members of this Biblical nation were buried with their jewelry, perfumed essences and weapons, which will certainly help experts find out more about them.

We may need to rethink today’s derogatory use of the word philistine, which refers to someone averse to culture and the arts, said archaeologist Lawrence Stager, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985.

‘The Philistines have had some bad press, and this will dispel a lot of myths,’ Stager said.

‘After decades of studying what Philistines left behind, we have finally come face to face with the people themselves,’ said Daniel M. Master, professor of archaeology at Wheaton College and one of the leaders of the excavation. ‘With this discovery, we are close to unlocking the secrets of their origins.’

The archaeologists kept the discovery a secret for three years until the end of their dig as they did not want to attract ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters. ‘We had to bite our tongues for a long time,’ Master said.

In addition to the above, researchers also discovered evidence of cremation which experts say were rare and expensive in the distant past.

‘The cosmopolitan life here is so much more elegant and worldly and connected with other parts of the eastern Mediterranean,’ Stager said.


Why Is the Discovery of the Philistine Cemetery Important?

One way to summarize the importance of this discovery is in the following statement by Lawrence E. Stager: “Ninety-nine percent of the chapters and articles written about Philistine burial customs should be revised or ignored now that we have the first and only Philistine cemetery found just outside the city walls of Tel Ashkelon” (quoted in BAR, First-Ever Philistine Cemetery Unearthed at Ashkelon). Admittedly, some may not be overly concerned with ancient Philistine burial practices, but there are other significant insights that should interest all those interested in the history of Israel and the Bible. Among them are:

  1. It is thought that the Philistines came from the island of Crete. Amos 9:7 states that the Philistines came from Caphtor (which many identify with Crete). Now DNA samples should help to resolve that question. DNA results will also help us understand how the people in the cemetery are related to each other, as well as their interconnectedness with other cultures.
  2. The skeletons will yield other interesting information such as, the average height of the people who lived here, what kinds of diseases they died from, and what the average life span was.
  3. Personal items buried with various individuals provide more data for understanding ancient Philistine culture. Although a majority of Philistines were not buried with personal items, nonetheless, the list of items found is impressive. Items include, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, decorated juglets, storage jars, perfumed oil, small bowls and weapons.

Discovery of Ancient Philistines’ Cemetery May Shed New Light on Their Origins

Archeologists may finally understand the origins of the Philistines. The first Philistine cemetery has been discovered in Israel outside the walls of Ashkelon, which was a major city for the Philistines between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C.

The Philistines came into conflict with the Israelites and were defeated by the forces of King David in the 10th century B.C. Archaeologists had located five major cities of the Philistines but very few of remains of their dead, which has all changed with the discovery of the burial site of over 200 Philistines.

To read more about the Philistines and the implications of this major archaeological find in National Geographic, click here.

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Contents of first discovered Philistine cemetery revealed

Earlier this year it was reported that the first–ever Philistine cemetery was discovered on the Israeli coast near Ashkelon. Now, the contents of the 3,000 year–old graveyard have been revealed.

Burial practices of the mysterious group, famous for their conflicts with the Israelites in the Bible and whose geographic origins remain unknown, has been a much–debated topic among scholars for decades.

“We are still working to understand the identity and origins of the Philistines,” excavation leader Adam Aja of the Harvard Semitic Museum told Foxnews.com. “The study of burial practices and the skeletal remains will contribute significantly to this picture, but this will only be a part of it.”

The discovery, however, has also drawn criticism with some experts not associated with the excavation questioning the identity of the people buried at the cemetery.

The cemetery near Ashkelon, an area long associated with the ancient non–Semitic people, was discovered below a huge overburden of soil just outside of the settlement’s walls. Being buried beneath massive layers of soil is, in Aja’s opinion, part of the reason Philistine cemeteries have remained undiscovered for so long.

While the total size of the burial ground is unknown, the excavated area measures 65 x 98 feet and holds the remains of 227 Philistines, according to Aja. For a small area it has a very high burial density, with two buried individuals per ten square feet.

The dead Philistines’ ages ranged from infants to senior adults, and were buried in several different ways.

“I was impressed by the variety of burial types,” Aja said. “We found stone tombs, children buried under sherds [fragments of pottery] or face down, pit graves, and cremations [in sealed jars]. This reveals that there was not a single burial practice for this population.”

Most of the bodies were buried in shallow graves along with jugs and small containers that may have held perfume.

Aja believes that the jar, bowl, and juglet assemblage that accompanied many skeletons may have been part of a wine drinking set. “It is unclear if this was intended for use by the dead, or as part of the burial ceremony for the living,” he said.

Some of the men were buried with ornamental beads or engraved stones, while most of the women and children’s remains had on jewelry– earrings, rings, and bracelets that were generally made of bronze or beads.

Aja says he was most pleased to see how the jewelry was worn.

“I have often found single beads in my excavation of settlements, but it was exceptional to find the full strung necklace, bracelet, or anklet still intact on the bodies,” he said.

Many of the bodies showed signs of physiological and biological stress, which affected their growth and development. The Ashkelon dead were relatively short: men averaged 5’1”, women 4’10”. The small difference in height between genders is a sign of population–wide malnourishment. There were growth interruptions in many individuals’ teeth, indicating fever and malnutrition among other possible biological disorders.

And while the Philistines were a notoriously fierce people, none of the skeletal remains found showed signs of death in battle (though the team did find a set of iron arrows near a man’s hip).

DNA testing should a little more light on the deceased Philistines’ health and causes of death.

“Among other things, we hope to add details regarding the health of individuals based upon our study of the bone, and population parallels based upon DNA evidence, but it is still too early to say much about these things,” Aja said.

The team also found eight stone burial chambers, with the largest one holding 23 skeletons. The chambers were lined up in three rows running parallel to the coast.

There is hope that this is only the tip of the iceberg and that there’s a lot more cemetery to be excavated.

“It is uncertain what constrained our cemetery, forcing such an overuse of each square meter of soil,” Aja said. “It was never clear whether the cemetery was circumscribed so that all burials were forced into a particular plot or whether the burials were clustered around some feature in the landscape. In either case, if this measured density was extrapolated across just the excavated areas, the number of burials would top 1200 persons.”

He expects that the cemetery was much larger, and if it approached the maximal boundaries suggested by other evidence (over 260 feet long), the number of buried individuals would be several times larger.

The team is currently waiting on the results from DNA analysis of the skeletons, which could finally reveal where the Philistines originated.


Contents

The Hebrew term Plištim occurs 286 times in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible (of which 152 times are in 1 Samuel). It also appears in the Samaritan Pentateuch. [11] In the Greek version of the Bible, called Septuagint, the equivalent term Phylistiim occurs 12 times, again in the Pentateuch. [12]

In secondary literature, "Philistia" is further mentioned in the Aramaic Visions of Amram (4Q543-7), which is dated "prior to Antiochus IV and the Hasmonean revolt," possibly to the time of High Priest of Israel Onias II Jubilees 46:1-47:1 might have used Amram as a source. [13]

Outside of pre-Maccabean Israelite religious literature, evidence for the name and the origins of the Philistines is less abundant and less consistent. In the remainder of the Hebrew Bible, ha-Plištim is attested at Qumran for 2 Samuel 5:17. [14] In the Septuagint, however, 269 references instead use the term allophylos ('of another tribe'). [15]

In 712 BC, a local usurper, Iamani ascended the throne of Ashdod. That same year, he organized a failed uprising against Assyria. The Assyrian King Sargon II invaded Philistia which effectively became an Assyrian province. Though he allowed Iamani to remain on the throne, [16] Gath was conquered, and possibly also destroyed in the same campaign in 711 BC. [17]

In the Book of Genesis, the Philistines are said to descend from the Casluhites, an Egyptian people. [18] However, according to rabbinic sources, these Philistines were different from those described in the Deuteronomistic history. [19] Deuteronomist sources describe the "Five Lords of the Philistines" [e] as based in five city-states of the southwestern Levant: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, from Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north. This description portrays them at one period of time as among the Kingdom of Israel's most dangerous enemies. [15] In contrast, the Septuagint uses the term allophuloi (Greek: ἀλλόφυλοι ) instead of "Philistines," which means simply 'other nations'.

Torah (Pentateuch) Edit

With regard to descendants of Mizraim, the biblical progenitor of the Egyptians, the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 states in Hebrew: "ve-et Patrusim ve-et Kasluhim asher yats'u mi-sham Plištim ve-et Kaftorim." Literally, it says that those whom Mizraim begat included "the Pathrusim, Casluhim, out of whom came the Philistines, and the Caphtorim."

There is some debate among interpreters as to whether this verse was originally intended to signify that the Philistines themselves were the offspring of the Casluhim or the Caphtorim. While the Casluhim or the Caphtorim origin was widely followed by some 19th-century biblical scholars, [20] others such as Friedrich Schwally, [21] Bernhard Stade, [22] and Cornelis Tiele [23] argued for a Semitic origin. Interestingly, the Caphtorites were considered to derive from Crete [24] while Cashluhim derived from Cyrenaica, [25] which was part of the province Crete and Cyrenacia in Roman times, which alludes to the similarities between them.

The Torah does not record the Philistines as one of the nations to be displaced from Canaan. In Genesis 15:18–21 the Philistines are absent from the ten nations Abraham's descendants will displace as well as being absent from the list of nations Moses tells the people they will conquer, though the land in which they resided is included in the boundaries based on the locations of rivers described (Deut 7:1, 20:17). In fact, the Philistines, through their Capthorite ancestors, were allowed to conquer the land from the Avvites (Deuteronomy 2:23). God also directed the Israelites away from the Philistines upon their Exodus from Egypt according to Exodus 13:17. In Genesis 21:22–27, Abraham agrees to a covenant of kindness with Abimelech, the Philistine king, and his descendants. Abraham's son Isaac deals with the Philistine king similarly, by concluding a treaty with them in chapter 26 (Genesis 26:28–29).

Unlike most other ethnic groups in the Bible, the Philistines are almost always referred to without the definite article in the Torah. [26]

Deuteronomistic history Edit

Rabbinic sources state that the Philistines of Genesis were different people from the Philistines of the Deuteronomistic history (the series of books from Joshua to 2 Kings). [19] According to the Talmud (Chullin 60b), the Philistines of Genesis intermingled with the Avvites. This differentiation was also held by the authors of the Septuagint (LXX), who translated (rather than transliterated) its base text as allophuloi (Greek: ἀλλόφυλοι , 'other nations') instead of philistines throughout the Books of Judges and Samuel. [19] [27]

Throughout the Deuteronomistic history, Philistines are almost always referred to without the definite article, except on 11 occasions. [26] On the basis of the LXX's regular translation into "allophyloi", Robert Drews states that the term "Philistines" means simply "non-Israelites of the Promised Land" when used in the context of Samson, Saul and David. [28]

Judges 13:1 tells that the Philistines dominated the Israelites in the times of Samson, who fought and killed over a thousand (e.g. Judges 15). According to 1 Samuel 5–6, they even captured the Ark of the Covenant for a few months.

A few biblical texts, such as the Ark Narrative and stories reflecting the importance of Gath, seem to portray Late Iron I and Early Iron II memories. [29] They are mentioned more than 250 times, the majority in the Deuteronomistic history, [ citation needed ] and are depicted as among the arch-enemies of the Israelites, [30] a serious and recurring threat before being subdued by David.

The Bible paints the Philistines as the main enemy of the Israelites (prior to the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian Empire) with a state of almost perpetual war between the two. The Philistine cities lost their independence to Assyria, and revolts in the following years were all crushed. They were subsequently absorbed into the Neo-Babylonian Empire and the Achaemenid Empire, and disappeared as a distinct ethnic group by the late 5th century BC. [2]

The Prophets Edit

Amos in 1:8 sets the Philistines / ἀλλοφύλοι at Ashdod and Ekron. In 9:7 God is quoted asserting that, as he brought Israel from Egypt, he also (in the Hebrew) brought the Philistines from Caphtor. [31] In the Greek this is, instead, bringing the ἀλλόφυλοι from Cappadocia. [32]

Battles between the Israelites and the Philistines Edit

The following is a list of battles described in the Bible as having occurred between the Israelites and the Philistines: [33]

  • The Battle of Shephelah (2 Chronicles 28:18).
  • Israelites defeated at the Battle of Aphek, Philistines capture the Ark (1 Samuel 4:1–10).
  • Philistines defeated at the Battle of Eben-Ezer (1 Samuel 7:3–14).
  • Some Philistine military success must have taken place subsequently, allowing the Philistines to subject the Israelites to a localised disarmament regime (1 Samuel 13:19–21 states that no Israelite blacksmiths were permitted and they had to go to the Philistines to sharpen their agricultural implements). , Philistines routed by Jonathan and his men (1 Samuel 14).
  • Near the Valley of Elah, David defeats Goliath in single combat (1 Samuel 17).
  • The Philistines defeat Israelites on Mount Gilboa, killing King Saul and his three sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malkishua (1 Samuel 31). defeats the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory (2 Kings 18:5–8).

The origin of the Philistines is still debated. The probable Aegean connection is discussed in the paragraph on "Archaeological evidence". Here-below are presented the possible connections between Philistines and various similar ethnonyms, toponyms or other philological interpretations of their biblical name: the "Peleset" mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions, a kingdom named as "Walistina/Falistina" or "Palistin" from the region near Aleppo in Syria, and older theories connecting them to a Greek locality or a Greek-language name.

The "Peleset" from Egyptian inscriptions Edit

Since 1846, scholars have connected the biblical Philistines with the Egyptian "Peleset" inscriptions. [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] All five of these appear from c. 1150 BCE to c. 900 BCE just as archaeological references to Kinaḫḫu, or Ka-na-na (Canaan), come to an end [39] and since 1873 comparisons were drawn between them and to the Aegean "Pelasgians." [40] [41] Archaeological research to date has been unable to corroborate a mass settlement of Philistines during the Ramesses III era. [42] [43] [44]

"Walistina/Falistina" and "Palistin" in Syria Edit

Pro Edit

A Walistina is mentioned in Luwian texts already variantly spelled Palistina. [45] [46] [47] This implies dialectical variation, a phoneme ("f"?) inadequately described in the script, [48] or both. Falistina was a kingdom somewhere on the Amuq plain, where the Amurru kingdom had held sway before it. [49]

In 2003, a statue of a king named Taita bearing inscriptions in Luwian was discovered during excavations conducted by German archaeologist Kay Kohlmeyer in the Citadel of Aleppo. [50] The new readings of Anatolian hieroglyphs proposed by the Hittitologists Elisabeth Rieken and Ilya Yakubovich were conducive to the conclusion that the country ruled by Taita was called Palistin. [51] This country extended in the 11th-10th centuries BCE from the Amouq Valley in the west to Aleppo in the east down to Mehardeh and Shaizar in the south. [52]

Due to the similarity between Palistin and Philistines, Hittitologist John David Hawkins (who translated the Aleppo inscriptions) hypothesizes a connection between the Syro-Hittite Palistin and the Philistines, as do archaeologists Benjamin Sass and Kay Kohlmeyer. [53] Gershon Galil suggests that King David halted the Arameans' expansion into the Land of Israel on account of his alliance with the southern Philistine kings, as well as with Toi, king of Ḥamath, who is identified with Tai(ta) II, king of Palistin (the northern Sea Peoples). [54]

Contra Edit

However, the relation between Palistin and the Philistines is much debated. Israeli professor Itamar Singer notes that there is nothing (besides the name) in the recently discovered archaeology that indicates an Aegean origin to Palistin most of the discoveries at the Palistin capital Tell Tayinat indicate a Neo-Hittite state, including the names of the kings of Palistin. Singer proposes (based on archaeological finds) that a branch of the Philistines settled in Tell Tayinat and were replaced or assimilated by a new Luwian population who took the Palistin name. [55]

Greece: "Palaeste" and phyle histia theories Edit

Another theory, proposed by Hermann Jacobsohn [de] in 1914, is that the name derives from the attested Illyrian-Epirote locality Palaeste, whose inhabitants would have been called Palaestīnī according to Illyrian normal grammatical practice. [56]

Allen Jones (1972) suggests that the name Philistine represents a corruption of the Greek phyle histia ('tribe of the hearth'), with the Ionic spelling of hestia. [57]

Territory Edit

According to Joshua 13:3 and 1 Samuel 6:17, the land of the Philistines (or Allophyloi), called Philistia, was a pentapolis in the southwestern Levant comprising the five city-states of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, from Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with no fixed border to the east. [15]

Tell Qasile (a "port city") and Aphek were located on the northern frontier of Philistine territory, and Tell Qasile in particular may have been inhabited by both Philistine and non-Philistine people. [58]

The location of Gath is not entirely certain, although the site of Tell es-Safi, not far from Ekron, is currently the most favoured. [59]

The identity of the city of Ziklag, which according to the Bible marked the border between the Philistine and Israelite territory, remains uncertain. [60]

In the western part of the Jezreel Valley, 23 of the 26 Iron Age I sites (12th to 10th centuries BCE) yielded typical Philistine pottery. These sites include Tel Megiddo, Tel Yokneam, Tel Qiri, Afula, Tel Qashish, Be'er Tiveon, Hurvat Hazin, Tel Risim, Tel Re'ala, Hurvat Tzror, Tel Sham, Midrakh Oz and Tel Zariq. Scholars have attributed the presence of Philistine pottery in northern Israel to their role as mercenaries for the Egyptians during the Egyptian military administration of the land in the 12th century BCE. This presence may also indicate further expansion of the Philistines to the valley during the 11th century BCE, or their trade with the Israelites. There are biblical references to Philistines in the valley during the times of the Judges. The quantity of Philistine pottery within these sites is still quite small, showing that even if the Philistines did settle the valley, they were a minority that blended within the Canaanite population during the 12th century BCE. The Philistines seem to have been present in the southern valley during the 11th century, which may relate to the biblical account of their victory at the Battle of Gilboa. [61]

Egyptian inscriptions Edit

Since Edward Hincks [34] and William Osburn Jr. [35] in 1846, biblical scholars have connected the biblical Philistines with the Egyptian "Peleset" inscriptions [36] [37] and since 1873, both have been connected with the Aegean "Pelasgians". [62] The evidence for these connections is etymological and has been disputed. [41]

Inscriptions written by the Philistines have not yet been found or conclusively identified. [63]

Based on the Peleset inscriptions, it has been suggested that the Casluhite Philistines formed part of the conjectured "Sea Peoples" who repeatedly attacked Egypt during the later Nineteenth Dynasty. [64] [65] Though they were eventually repulsed by Ramesses III, he finally resettled them, according to the theory, to rebuild the coastal towns in Canaan. Papyrus Harris I details the achievements of the reign (1186–1155 BC) of Ramesses III. In the brief description of the outcome of the battles in Year 8 is the description of the fate of some of the conjectured Sea Peoples. Ramesses claims that, having brought the prisoners to Egypt, he "settled them in strongholds, bound in my name. Numerous were their classes, hundreds of thousands strong. I taxed them all, in clothing and grain from the storehouses and granaries each year." Some scholars suggest it is likely that these "strongholds" were fortified towns in southern Canaan, which would eventually become the five cities (the Pentapolis) of the Philistines. [66] Israel Finkelstein has suggested that there may be a period of 25–50 years after the sacking of these cities and their reoccupation by the Philistines. It is possible that at first, the Philistines were housed in Egypt only subsequently late in the troubled end of the reign of Ramesses III would they have been allowed to settle Philistia. [ citation needed ]

The "Peleset" appear in four different texts from the time of the New Kingdom. [63] Two of these, the inscriptions at Medinet Habu and the Rhetorical Stela at Deir al-Medinah, are dated to the time of the reign of Ramesses III (1186–1155 BC). [63] Another was composed in the period immediately following the death of Ramesses III (Papyrus Harris I). [63] The fourth, the Onomasticon of Amenope, is dated to some time between the end of the 12th or early 11th century BC. [63]

The inscriptions at Medinet Habu consist of images depicting a coalition of Sea Peoples, among them the Peleset, who are said in the accompanying text to have been defeated by Ramesses III during his Year 8 campaign. In about 1175 BC, Egypt was threatened with a massive land and sea invasion by the "Sea Peoples," a coalition of foreign enemies which included the Tjeker, the Shekelesh, the Deyen, the Weshesh, the Teresh, the Sherden, and the PRST. They were comprehensively defeated by Ramesses III, who fought them in "Djahy" (the eastern Mediterranean coast) and at "the mouths of the rivers" (the Nile Delta), recording his victories in a series of inscriptions in his mortuary temple at Medinet Habu. Scholars have been unable to conclusively determine which images match what peoples described in the reliefs depicting two major battle scenes. A separate relief on one of the bases of the Osirid pillars with an accompanying hieroglyphic text clearly identifying the person depicted as a captive Peleset chief is of a bearded man without headdress. [63] This has led to the interpretation that Ramesses III defeated the Sea Peoples, including Philistines, and settled their captives in fortresses in southern Canaan another related theory suggests that Philistines invaded and settled the coastal plain for themselves. [67] The soldiers were quite tall and clean-shaven. They wore breastplates and short kilts, and their superior weapons included chariots drawn by two horses. They carried small shields and fought with straight swords and spears. [68]

The Rhetorical Stela are less discussed, but are noteworthy in that they mention the Peleset together with a people called the Teresh, who sailed "in the midst of the sea". The Teresh are thought to have originated from the Anatolian coast and their association with the Peleset in this inscription is seen as providing some information on the possible origin and identity of the Philistines. [69]

The Harris Papyrus, which was found in a tomb at Medinet Habu, also recalls Ramesses III's battles with the Sea Peoples, declaring that the Peleset were "reduced to ashes." The Papyrus Harris I, records how the defeated foe were brought in captivity to Egypt and settled in fortresses. [70] The Harris papyrus can be interpreted in two ways: either the captives were settled in Egypt and the rest of the Philistines/Sea Peoples carved out a territory for themselves in Canaan, or else it was Ramesses himself who settled the Sea Peoples (mainly Philistines) in Canaan as mercenaries. [71] Egyptian strongholds in Canaan are also mentioned, including a temple dedicated to Amun, which some scholars place in Gaza however, the lack of detail indicating the precise location of these strongholds means that it is unknown what impact these had, if any, on Philistine settlement along the coast. [69]

The only mention in an Egyptian source of the Peleset in conjunction with any of the five cities that are said in the Bible to have made up the Philistine pentapolis comes in the Onomasticon of Amenope. The sequence in question has been translated as: "Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gaza, Assyria, Shubaru [. ] Sherden, Tjekker, Peleset, Khurma [. ]" Scholars have advanced the possibility that the other Sea Peoples mentioned were connected to these cities in some way as well. [69]

Material culture: Aegean origin and historical evolution Edit

Aegean connection Edit

Many scholars have interpreted the ceramic and technological evidence attested to by archaeology as being associated with the Philistine advent in the area as strongly suggestive that they formed part of a large scale immigration to southern Canaan, probably from Anatolia and Cyprus, in the 12th century BCE. [72]

The proposed connection between Mycenaean culture and Philistine culture was further documented by finds at the excavation of Ashdod, Ekron, Ashkelon, and more recently Gath, four of the five Philistine cities in Canaan. The fifth city is Gaza. Especially notable is the early Philistine pottery, a locally made version of the Aegean Mycenaean Late Helladic IIIC pottery, which is decorated in shades of brown and black. This later developed into the distinctive Philistine pottery of the Iron Age I, with black and red decorations on white slip known as Philistine Bichrome ware. [73] Also of particular interest is a large, well-constructed building covering 240 square metres (2,600 sq ft), discovered at Ekron. Its walls are broad, designed to support a second story, and its wide, elaborate entrance leads to a large hall, partly covered with a roof supported on a row of columns. In the floor of the hall is a circular hearth paved with pebbles, as is typical in Mycenaean megaron hall buildings other unusual architectural features are paved benches and podiums. Among the finds are three small bronze wheels with eight spokes. Such wheels are known to have been used for portable cultic stands in the Aegean region during this period, and it is therefore assumed that this building served cultic functions. Further evidence concerns an inscription in Ekron to PYGN or PYTN, which some have suggested refers to "Potnia", the title given to an ancient Mycenaean goddess. Excavations in Ashkelon, Ekron, and Gath reveal dog and pig bones which show signs of having been butchered, implying that these animals were part of the residents' diet. [74] [75] Among other findings there are wineries where fermented wine was produced, as well as loom weights resembling those of Mycenaean sites in Greece. [76]

Further evidence of the Aegean origin of the initial Philistine settlers was provided by studying their burial practices in the so far only discovered Philistine cemetery, excavated at Ashkelon (see below).

However, for many years scholars such as Gloria London, John Brug, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Helga Weippert, and Edward Noort, among others, have noted the "difficulty of associating pots with people", proposing alternative suggestions such as potters following their markets or technology transfer, and emphasize the continuities with the local world in the material remains of the coastal area identified with "Philistines", rather than the differences emerging from the presence of Cypriote and/or Aegean/ Mycenaean influences. The view is summed up in the idea that 'kings come and go, but cooking pots remain', suggesting that the foreign Aegean elements in the Philistine population may have been a minority. [77] [78]

Geographic evolution Edit

Material culture evidence, primarily pottery styles, indicates that the Philistines originally settled in a few sites in the south, such as Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron. [79] It was not until several decades later, about 1150 BC, that they expanded into surrounding areas such as the Yarkon region to the north (the area of modern Jaffa, where there were Philistine farmsteads at Tel Gerisa and Aphek, and a larger settlement at Tel Qasile). [79] Most scholars, therefore, believe that the settlement of the Philistines took place in two stages. In the first, dated to the reign of Ramesses III, they were limited to the coastal plain, the region of the Five Cities in the second, dated to the collapse of Egyptian hegemony in southern Canaan, their influence spread inland beyond the coast. [80] During the 10th to 7th centuries BC, the distinctiveness of the material culture appears to have been absorbed with that of surrounding peoples. [81]

Burial practices Edit

The Leon Levy Expedition, consisting of archaeologists from Harvard University, Boston College, Wheaton College in Illinois and Troy University in Alabama, conducted a 30-year investigation of the burial practices of the Philistines, by excavating a Philistine cemetery containing more than 150 burials dating from the 11th to 8th century BCE Tel Ashkelon. In July 2016, the expedition finally announced the results of their excavation. [82]

Archaeological evidence, provided by architecture, burial arrangements, ceramics, and pottery fragments inscribed with non-Semitic writing, indicates that the Philistines were not native to Canaan. Most of the 150 dead were buried in oval-shaped graves, some were interred in ashlar chamber tombs, while there were 4 who were cremated. These burial arrangements were very common to the Aegean cultures, but not to the one indigenous to Canaan. Lawrence Stager of Harvard University believes that Philistines came to Canaan by ships before the Battle of the Delta circa 1175 BCE. DNA was extracted from the skeletons for archaeogenetic population analysis. [83]

The Leon Levy Expedition, which has been going on since 1985, helped break down some of the previous assumptions that the Philistines were uncultured people by having evidence of perfume near the bodies in order for the deceased to smell it in the afterlife. [84]

Genetic evidence Edit

A study carried out on skeletons at Ashkelon in 2019 by an interdisciplinary team of scholars from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the Leon Levy Expedition found that human remains at Ashkelon, associated with "Philistines" during the Iron Age, derived most of their ancestry from the local Levantine gene pool, but with a certain amount of Southern-European-related admixture. This confirms previous historic and archaeological records of a Southern-European migration event, but it did not leave a long-lasting genetic impact. [8] After two centuries, the Southern-European genetic markers were dwarfed by the local Levantine gene pool, suggesting intensive intermarriage. The Philistine culture and peoplehood remained distinct from other local communities for six centuries. [85] The DNA suggests an influx of people of European heritage into Ashkelon in the twelfth century BC. The individuals' DNA shows similarities to that of ancient Cretans, but it is impossible to specify the exact place in Europe from where Philistines had migrated to Levant, due to limited number of ancient genomes available for study, "with 20 to 60 per cent similarity to DNA from ancient skeletons from Crete and Iberia and that from modern people living in Sardinia." [86] [8] The finding fits with an understanding of the Philistines as an "entangled" or "transcultural" group consisting of peoples of various origins, said Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. "While I fully agree that there was a significant component of non-Levantine origins among the Philistines in the early Iron Age," he said. "These foreign components were not of one origin, and, no less important, they mixed with local Levantine populations from the early Iron Age onward." Laura Mazow, an archaeologist at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., said the research paper supported the idea that there was some migration into the site from the west [ dubious – discuss ] . [8] [ dubious – discuss ] She added that the findings "support the picture that we see in the archaeological record of a complex, multicultural process that has been resistant to reconstruction by any single historical model." [87] "When we found the infants – infants that were too young to travel. these infants couldn't march or sail to get to the land around Ashkelon, so they were born on site. And their DNA revealed [that] their parents' heritage was not from the local population," Dr. Adam A. Aja, assistant curator of collections at the Harvard Semitic Museum and one of the Ashkelon Philistine cemetery archaeologists, explained, referring to the new genetic input from the direction of Southern Europe that was found in bone samples taken from infants buried under the floors of Philistine homes. [88] Modern archaeologists agree that the Philistines were different from their neighbors: Their arrival on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean in the early 12th century B.C. is marked by pottery with close parallels to the ancient Greek world, the use of an Aegean—instead of a Semitic—script, and the consumption of pork. [89] Nevertheless, Cretans were not too unfamiliar with the Levant, with connections being established since the Minoan era, as seen by their influence on Tel Kabri. [90]

Population Edit

The population of the area associated with Philistines is estimated to have been around 25,000 in the 12th century BC, rising to a peak of 30,000 in the 11th century BC. [91] The Canaanite nature of the material culture and toponyms suggest that much of this population was indigenous, such that the migrant element would likely constitute less than half the total, and perhaps much less. [91]

Language Edit

Nothing is known for certain about the language of the Philistines. Pottery fragments from the period of around 1500–1000 BCE have been found bearing inscriptions in non-Semitic languages, including one in a Cypro-Minoan script. [92] The Bible does not mention any language problems between the Israelites and the Philistines, as it does with other groups up to the Assyrian and Babylonian occupations. [93] Later, Nehemiah 13:23-24 writing under the Achaemenids records that when Judean men intermarried women from Moab, Ammon and Philistine cities, half the offspring of Judean marriages with women from Ashdod could speak only their mother tongue, Ašdôdît, not Judean Hebrew (Yehûdît) although by then this language might have been an Aramaic dialect. [94] There is some limited evidence in favour of the assumption that the Philistines were originally Indo-European-speakers, either from Greece or Luwian speakers from the coast of Asia Minor, on the basis of some Philistine-related words found in the Bible not appearing to be related to other Semitic languages. [95] Such theories suggest that the Semitic elements in the language were borrowed from their neighbours in the region. For example, the Philistine word for captain, "seren", may be related to the Greek word tyrannos (thought by linguists to have been borrowed by the Greeks from an Anatolian language, such as Luwian or Lydian [95] ). Although most Philistine names are Semitic (such as Ahimelech, Mitinti, Hanun, and Dagon) [93] some of the Philistine names, such as Goliath, Achish, and Phicol, appear to be of non-Semitic origin, and Indo-European etymologies have been suggested. Recent finds of inscriptions written in Hieroglyphic Luwian in Palistin substantiate a connection between the language of the kingdom of Palistin and the Philistines of the southwestern Levant. [96] [97] [98]

Religion Edit

The deities worshipped in the area were Baal, Astarte, and Dagon, whose names or variations thereof had already appeared in the earlier attested Canaanite pantheon. [15]

Economy Edit

Cities excavated in the area attributed to Philistines give evidence of careful town planning, including industrial zones. The olive industry of Ekron alone includes about 200 olive oil installations. Engineers estimate that the city's production may have been more than 1,000 tons, 30 percent of Israel's present-day production. [68]

There is considerable evidence for a large industry in fermented drink. Finds include breweries, wineries, and retail shops marketing beer and wine. Beer mugs and wine kraters are among the most common pottery finds. [99]


Discovery of 3,000-Year-Old Philistine Cemetery May Change History - History

A huge Philistine cemetery some 3000-years-old has been found in southern Israel, in the Mediterranean seaport of Ashkelon. For the first time the undisturbed graves for more then 150 individual of the biblical giant Goliath’s people, can finally shed new light on mysteries of their origin, culture, dietary habits, lifestyle and morbidity.

The researchers have gently unearthed remains of men, women, and a few young children, most buried in simple pits, some in stone-lined chambers, others cremated. Many of the dead were laid to rest on their backs along with personal items such as jewelry, weapons, or ceramics. A large number were “accompanied by two storage jars, one of which is often topped with a bowl, and then a little juglet on top. The role of the objects in burial remains a mystery.

This port city, had 13, 000 inhabitants at its peak. and has also yielded clues of Canaanites, Israelites, Philistines, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Mycenaeans, Greeks, and Romans. Findings have included pottery, coins, jewelry, and statues, as well as various examples of advanced architecture, such as the oldest known arched gateway, dating to 1800 B.C.

The Philistines were wiped off the face of the earth by Babylonian armies, almost three millennia ago.

“This discovery is a crowning achievement, the opportunity to finally see them face to face, ” said Daniel M. Master, professor of Wheaton College and co-director of the Leon Levy Expedition. “After some three decades of excavations in the area, the expedition’s organizers the archaeologists finally have a data set not on one or two individuals but a whole population. That in turn will enable them to talk about what’s typical and what’s not typical, he explained, ” he told Haaretz.

“We are getting a sense of people who suffered malnutrition at youth and we see that in their teeth, ” said Master. “We are getting a sense for some of the things that they experienced in their life, on a very personal level, their medical history, as it were, that we can’t get from looking at the houses or the pottery or the bread ovens that they left behind.”

“There have been pages and pages and pages of Philistine burial customs, and 99 percent of it is utter nonsense now that we really know how they were buried, ” Told Lawrence E. Stager, Harvard’s Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel Emeritus and a co-director of the expedition to news.harvard. “We see that these burial patterns are very different from what we know of Canaanite culture, Egyptian culture, and Israelite culture. So we now have comparative and contrasting archaeology.”

Researchers will use DNA, radiocarbon, and biological distance testing in the coming months and years to help determine the Philistines’ origin. Were they realy “sea peoples” who migrated to the Cnaan around the 12th century B.C? how long they lived, how tall they were, how healthy they were.

Who were the Philistines?

The origins of the Philistines remain a mystery. Their burial practice suggests they may have come from the Mycenaean civilization of the Aegean.
“What is certain is that they were strangers in the Semitic region, ” where their presence between 1200 and around 600 BC is evident on a thin coastal strip running from present-day Gaza to Tel Aviv, said Master, according to i24 news.

Traders and seafarers, they spoke a language of Indo-European origin, did not practice circumcision and ate pork and dog, as proven by bones and marks found on them in the ruins of the other four Philistine cities: Gaza, Gath, Ashdod and Ekron.

Beyond the previously scanty archaeological record, the Philistines are known mostly from the Old Testament account given by their neighbors and bitter enemies, the ancient Israelites.

The book of Samuel describes the capture by Philistine fighters of the Ark of the Covenant and the duel between their giant warrior Goliath felled by a stone from David’s sling.

From these biblical descriptions of savage marauders comes the modern usage of “philistine” to mean a person without culture or manners.

Some of the site’s finds were going on display Sunday at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem.


Archaeology Casts New Light on the Philistines

An ancient cemetery brings us face to face with the Philistines.

A member of the physical anthropology team, Rachel Kalisher, documents a 10th-9th century BC skeleton (photo: Photo copyright Leon Levy Expedition)

The ancient enemies of Israel have revealed themselves at last.

For the first time in history, archaeologists have come face to face with the Philistines during an excavation of an ancient cemetery in Ashkelon, and long unanswered questions are finally being answered. Who were the Philistines? How did they bury their dead? Where did they come from? Discoveries announced this week are changing our understanding of all these things. It’s the kind of information that leads to textbooks being rewritten.

This year marks the culmination of the Leon Levy Expedition, which has been digging at the seaport city of Ashkelon since 1985, with the focus on the cemetery for the past three years. The announcement of the team’s discoveries coincides with the opening of the exhibit Ashkelon: A Retrospective, 30 Years of the Leon Levy Expedition at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Many of the finds at Ashkelon and other sites are on display, including a 16th century BC silver calf found in a shrine.

The 3,000-year-old cemetery was located just outside the wall of Ashkelon, one of the five primary Philistine cities, and represents the first indisputably Philistine cemetery ever discovered. The only other candidates were a cemetery in Azor, at the frontier of Philistine territory, and tombs at tels Farah and Eitun. But these were at the limits of Philistine influence, rather than deep in the heartland, and told a very different story.

Up until now, people suggested either cremation or ceramic Egyptian anthropoid coffins were the standard for Philistine burial. In Ashkelon, more than 210 bodies found in 150 burials dating from the 11th to 8th century BC were almost all in oval pit burials with grave goods. There were only four cremations. In addition, six ashlar burial chambers—those made with carefully tooled and squared masonry rather than rubble or rough stones—were found at the location. The finest tomb, made of sandstone blocks, was found with its stone door wrenched off and both bodies and goods stolen long ago by tomb robbers.

What The Graves Say

This tells us something very specific: the Philistines were not culturally Canaanite. In fact, they were unlike any of the people from the surrounding region, and the method of burial and other factors suggests that they may well have originated in the Aegean. Iron Age Canaanites and Israelites practiced multi-stage burials. The body would be laid out, often in a rock cut tomb, until reduced to bones. About a year after death, the bones would then be removed to niches in the tomb or ossuaries, or in some cases just swept under the tomb bench to make way for a new body.

The Philistines didn’t do this at all, and this one-stage burial is an unusual discovery for the region. Even when a tomb was re-opened to add another body, the remains already in there were not disturbed. This shows a distinctly different understanding of the relationship between the living and the dead and the attitudes towards human remains.

Another peculiarity was the absences of children’s graves, leaving open the question of what they did with the bodies of the young. Notably, deaths appear to have been natural, without the trauma that would suggest violent death.

Although most people were buried without grave goods, enough items were found at the site to flesh out our understanding of the Philistines. The grave goods tell the story of Philistia’s close trade ties with Phoenicia and its trade ports in Tyre and Sidon. (“The day is coming to destroy all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper that remains,” Jeremiah 47:4) The most common items are small decorated Phoenician jugs, along with bowls and storage jars. A careful layout of a storage jar with a small jug inside and a bowl on top was found in many graves.

Weapons and jewelry also were in the graves, with rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces made of bronze. Carnelian—a reddish-brown stone that was considered semi-precious—was used for beads, and cowrie shells were interwoven in some items. There was also some fine silverwork. Weapons were less common, although one man was buried with a quiver of bronze arrows. Scarabs and amulets were also present in some graves.

The greatest discoveries, however, may be still to come. Since the archeologists now have remains that are indisputably Philistine, they can perform DNA testing to determine just where these peoples came from, what they ate, what diseases they had, and maybe why they died. Amos 9:7 tells us "Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?” Caphtor is believed to be Crete, and now the discoveries to Ashkelon seem to confirm that they did indeed come from the Aegean, bring their own style of craft and construction with them and blending it with what they found in 12th century BC Israel. The DNA testing may also unlock how the bodies were related to each other and to the population in which they settled.

Thomas L. McDonald Thomas L. McDonald has been a writer and editor for the past 25 years, covering technology, history, archaeology, games and religion. He has degrees in English, Film and Theology with a concentration in Church History. He’s been a certified catechist for 12 years, and taught Church History for eight. His other writing can be found at Weird Catholic.


Watch the video: 3,000 year old Philistine cemetery discovered (December 2021).