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Ancient DNA sheds light on the origins of the Biblical Philistines

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Republication from  heritage daily

Peleset, captives of the Egyptians, from a graphic wall relief at Medinet Habu, in about 1185-52 BC, during the reign of Ramesses III. They are identified to be the Biblical Philistines (Wikimedia commons).

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An international team, led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the Leon Levy Expedition, retrieved and analyzed, for the first time, genome-wide data from people who lived during the Bronze and Iron Age (~3,600-2,800 years ago) in the ancient port city of Ashkelon, one of the core Philistine cities during the Iron Age. The team found that a European derived ancestry was introduced in Ashkelon around the time of the Philistines’ estimated arrival, suggesting that ancestors of the Philistines migrated across the Mediterranean, reaching Ashkelon by the early Iron Age. This European related genetic component was subsequently diluted by the local Levantine gene pool over the succeeding centuries, suggesting intensive admixture between local and foreign populations. These genetic results, published in Science Advances, are a critical step toward understanding the long-disputed origins of the Philistines.

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Evidence of the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem found in Mount Zion excavation

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Republication from phys.org

 

One of the Scythian type arrowheads found in the destruction layer from 587/586 BCE. Credit: Mt Zion Archaeological Expedition/Virginia Withers

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Researchers digging at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s ongoing archaeological excavation on Mount Zion in Jerusalem have announced a second significant discovery from the 2019 season—clear evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city from 587/586 BCE.

The discovery is of a deposit including layers of ash, arrowheads dating from the period, as well as Iron Age potsherds, lamps and a significant piece of period jewelry—a gold and silver tassel or earring. There are also signs of a significant Iron Age structure in the associated area, but the building, beneath layers from later periods, has yet to be excavated.

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On the Warfare in Ancient Israel and the Importance of Iron

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Phillistine

Philistine swords and daggers.

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Modern reconstruction of Phillistine and Canaanite battle-axes (images added by  periklisdeligiannis.wordpress.com).

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Republication from Article Myriad

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The general history of ancient Israel is, by its very nature, somewhat challenging to piece together, as the written and archaeological record is fragmentary (DeVaux & McHugh 213; Miller & Hayes 19). The limited information that is available is sourced primarily from religious texts, and the metaphorical and interpretive nature of these writings creates difficulties in establishing the accuracy of the stories as historical fact (DeVaux & McHugh 241). The same difficulties are confronted when studying the military history of ancient Israel. As DeVaux and McHugh wrote, “the very words used for military equipment are far from precise, and their meaning is often uncertain” (241). In addition, the traditional sources that are used to corroborate historical interpretations, such as archaeology, have not been helpful in terms of expanding historians’ knowledge of ancient military history in Israel.

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