TWH – The Philistines could also be one of the enigmatic individuals of the traditional Mediterranean as famous in Archaeology final month.
The Philistines are enigmatic for a number of causes. First, they left minimal written information of their world. Second, the traditional Hebrews, their enemy, wrote most of what we find out about them. Third, their look in historical past is linked to the Bronze Age Collapse which occurred round 1200 B.C.E.
The Bronze Age Collapse and the Sea Peoples
Throughout the Bronze Age, a number of main powers within the Levant turned linked by commerce and alternate. Collectively, Egypt, the Hittites, and the Minoans-Myceneans turned highly effective culturally, economically, and militarily. Someday within the 1200s B.C.E, a serious disaster, developed within the Japanese Mediterranean.
Pollen and sediment evaluation from Greece and the Levant present “extreme aridity” from round 1250 B.C.E. This drought may simply have disrupted meals provides and commerce. In flip, these disruptions may have led to social unrest and mass migrations all through the area.
Egyptian information inform of a battle round 1175 B.C.E. In that battle, Ramses III fought the Sea Peoples. The present thought is that the Sea Peoples have been refugees from that disaster. They started to raid the established powers within the area.
Proof all through the Japanese Mediterranean reveals proof of disruptions and violence. Some violence could possibly be from inside unrest, moderately than the Sea Peoples raiding. The date for this occasion is normally given as round 1200 B.C.E. Fairly than a single occasion, it will have been extra of a course of over a long time.
After 1200 B.C.E., the Minoan-Mycenean tradition disappears. Greece enters the Greek Darkish Ages. The Hittites of Anatolia disappeared. Egypt survived however misplaced management over Canaan. As Egypt misplaced management, the Hebrews, Philistines, and Phoenicians emerged.
A short historical past of the Philistines
The Iron Age adopted the Bronze Age. Within the Levant, the Iron Age lasted from 1200 to 539 B.C.E. The Philistines lived in coastal elements of the southeastern Levant. They’d 5 main cities, Ashdon, Askelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza. Solely the still-inhabited Gaza stays unexcavated.
Historian Aren Maeir has challenged the historic consensus, which holds that the Sea Peoples conquered and settled within the Levant. They turned the Philistines. He argues that the Sea Peoples consisted of a motley group of “opportunistic pirate tribes.” Within the late 1200s and early 1100s B.C.E., a few of them settled within the southern Levantine coast. Meir argues that they settled “principally peaceably, among the many native Canaanites.” Over time, they created the hybrid Philistine tradition.
The final Philistine cities have been destroyed by the neo-Babylonians in 604 B.C.E. The surviving Philistines have been despatched into exile in Mesopotamia. After a century or so, proof of Philistinians disappears from historical past.
The Faith of the Philistines
The journal Religions revealed Philistine Cult and Religion: According to Archaeological Evidence. It surveyed research of the identified materials stays of the Philistine faith. The article distinguished between their public cult and their family cults. Proof confirmed native Canaanite cults largely influenced the general public cults of the Philistines.
In distinction, the Aegean cultic observe largely influenced Philistine family cults. It additionally distinguished between the Levantine Iron Age I and the Levantine Iron Age II. The Levantine Iron Age I lasted from 1200 B.C.E. to 1000 B.C.E. The Levantine Iron Age II lasted from 1000 to 539 B.C.E.
The Philistine Public Cult
Ben-Shlomo outlined public cult materials as that present in temples or public shrines. Archaeologists determine temples primarily based on “particular floor plan, constructing methods, separation of areas, installations and kind, amount and site of particular finds.” Public cultic buildings have an “inherent and moderately fixed cultic perform.”
Excavations at Gath revealed Temple D3, relationship to the Levantine Iron Age II. The Philistines had constructed Temple D3 on high of an earlier temple.
Temple D3 had an outer, north-facing courtyard, three rooms, and a broad room. Behind that room, archaeologists discovered “a novel monolithic two-horned altar.” Discovered objects embody 200 ankle bones, however only a few collectible figurines.
The temple in Inform Qasile dates from the Levantine Iron Age I. It had three strata. At its earliest stage, excavators discovered a one-room shrine. Benches abutted the partitions. It had a bamah or raised place for sacrifice.
In a later layer, builders enlarged the construction. It had an oblique entrance, an entrance room, and the principle corridor with pillars. Within the again, one other room within the again had an oblique entrance. Close by, one other one-room shrine stood. That one-room shrine contained many cultic vessels.
Different finds embody “varied anthropomorphic and zoomorphic libation vessels embellished within the Philistine Bichrome type.” Not one of the iconographies signifies Aegean affect. Archaeologists additionally discovered bowls within the form of birds, in addition to two terracotta pomegranate vessels.
The temple in Nahal Patish dates to late Levantine Iron Age I. It has an uneven L-shape. Somebody would enter via a courtyard that contained pits for choices, and an altar.
Two passages led out from the courtyard. The one on the proper led to a sq. storeroom, an providing pit, and supplies for cooking. The passage on the left led to an oblique entrance to the temple. That temple had a raised space for sacrifices. Steps led as much as that raised space. Close by, was a bronze knife, and gold foil items in addition to different objects.
The objects and designs of temples present principally Canaanite affect. Some cultic objects, nevertheless, present Philistine Bichrome type of their decorations.
Philistine family cults
Archaeologists determine family cult websites as these present in a home context equivalent to “cultic corners” or “home shrines.” The creator outlined an space of a family as a “cultic nook” or a “home shrine” if virtually all objects therein solely had a symbolic use.
Of their excavation of Ashkelon, archaeologists discovered a home shrine in Grid 38 room 572. They dated it to the 1100s B.C.E. In a single room, they discovered what seems to be a four-horned altar fabricated from earth, lined in lime plaster. That altar is similar to a Cypriot “horns of consecration” object.
In Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron, archaeologists discovered Aegean-style figures. They didn’t discover many, however these they did had clear hyperlinks to Aegean collectible figurines. Archaeologists discovered these collectible figurines within the Levantine Iron Age 1 households. Archaeologists discovered three main varieties: Psi collectible figurines, the Ashdoda, and bovine collectible figurines.
In Psi collectible figurines, a schematic feminine holds her arms uplifted, within the type of the Greek letter psi (Ψ). They discovered these at Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, and Tel Qasile.
Some readers could word similarities between psi collectible figurines and the Minoan Snake Goddess.
The “Ashdoda” depicts a sitting feminine. This terracotta has a small head with a crown-like hair costume, an extended neck, and a schematic flat physique. Her seat has 4 legs. The sculptor utilized breasts, eyes, and a nostril to that physique.
Her options present each Aegean and Canaanite affect. It seems to have “advanced” from Mycenaean seated feminine figures. It solely seems after the Bronze Age collapse.
At Ekron, archaeologists have discovered a embellished cow-like figurine. They haven’t discovered another embellished animal-like collectible figurines within the southern Levant within the early Iron Age. It had similarities to bovine collectible figurines from the Aegean and Cyprus.
In Gath, archaeologists discovered a ceramic pomegranate and a zoomorphic vessel. Additionally they discovered a “kernos,” a novel kind of terracotta construction for making choices. It takes the type of a “tubular ring with varied head spouts and vessels connected to it.”
Nobody has but discovered a Philistine equal of the Eddas, the Homeric epics, or the Ulster Cycle. With out some texts like these, moderns can by no means know the names of their gods, not to mention their myths.