16 Facts About Philistines


Philistines were an ancient people who lived on the south coast of Canaan from the 12th century BC until 604 BC, when their polity, after having already been subjugated for centuries by the Neo-Assyrian Empire, was finally destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar II of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

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The Philistines are known for their biblical conflict with the Israelites.

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Philistines seemed to have generally retained their autonomy, barring a few periods of partial Israelite and Judahite suzerainty, up until the era of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

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Philistines disappear from written record following the conquest of the Levant by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II towards the end of the 7th century BC, when Ashkelon, Ekron and many other cities from the region were completely destroyed.

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However, according to rabbinic sources, these Philistines were different from those described in the Deuteronomistic history.

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Deuteronomist sources describe the "Five Lords of the Philistines" 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.

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

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Judges 13:1 tells that the Philistines dominated the Israelites in the times of Samson, who fought and killed over a thousand.

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Singer proposes 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lawrence Stager of Harvard University believes that Philistines came to Canaan by ships before the Battle of the Delta circa 1175 BCE.

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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.

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Cities excavated in the area attributed to Philistines give evidence of careful town planning, including industrial zones.

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Philistines seemed to be experienced metalworkers, as complex wares of gold, bronze, and iron, have been found at Philistine sites as early as the 12th century BC, as well as artisanal weaponry.

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