Article first appeared here.
Where did the ancient Philistines come from? The Philistines left behind plenty of pottery. But part of the mystery surrounding the ancient people was that very little biological trace of them had been found — until 2013. That’s when archaeologists excavating the site of the biblical city of Ashkelon found what they say is the first Philistine cemetery ever discovered. They say they have uncovered the remains of more than 200 people there. The discovery was finally unveiled Sunday at the close of a 30-year excavation by the Leon Levy Expedition, a team of archaeologists from Harvard University, …
The discovery was finally unveiled Sunday at the close of a 30-year excavation by the Leon Levy Expedition, a team of archaeologists from Harvard University, Boston College, Wheaton College in Illinois and Troy University in Alabama.
The team is now performing DNA, radiocarbon and other tests on bone samples uncovered at the cemetery, dating back to between the 11th and the 8th centuries B.C., to help resolve a debate about the Philistines’ geographical origins. The archaeologists have not announced any conclusions, saying they are taking advantage of recent advances in DNA testing to get the most accurate results.
“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 archeologists also discovered some cremations, which the team say were rare and expensive for the period, and some larger jugs contained the bones of infants.
“The cosmopolitan life here is so much more elegant and worldly and connected with other parts of the eastern Mediterranean,” Stager said, adding that this was in contrast to the more modest village lifestyle of the Israelites who lived in the hills to the east.
Editor CED Notes? “Philistine” is the the Arabic word for “Palestine”. Could Palestinians be decendents of these ancient Philistines?