Excavating Ashkelon, Seaport of the Philistines
Larry Stager, Harvard University
May 7, 2008
We once knew about the mysterious Philistines mainly from the Hebrew Bible, as they were portrayed by their archenemies, the Israelites. Through the recent archaeological discoveries at three of the five main cities of the Philistines—Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron—the Philistines are beginning to speak for themselves. And their self-portrait is quite different from the stereotypical one. Their vernacular architecture and furnishings, pottery, eating and drinking preferences reflect those of the Aegean rather than the Semitic world. Recent discoveries at Ashkelon reveal for the first time that some Philistines could read and write, using an Aegean script. Our excavations shed new light on Philistine relationships with Egyptians, Canaanites, and Israelites in the early Iron Age.
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Revised: March 3, 2009