By January 22, 2009 Read More →

Excavating Ekron, Seymour Gitin, Biblical Archaeology Review (31:6), Nov/Dec 2005.

Trude Dothan

Trude Dothan

Major Philistine City Survived by Absorbing Other Cultures

The Philistines were the chief adversary of Biblical Israel in the 12th and 11th centuries B.C.E. They were also the conquerors of the Canaanite cities of the southern coastal plain. At the beginning of the first millennium B.C.E., however, the Philistine cities were destroyed and the Philistines themselves seem to have become a casualty of history, as they apparently disappeared from the archaeological and historical record. This was the conclusion of most historians and archaeologists—until we began to excavate the Philistine site of Tel Miqne (Biblical Ekron), on the border of the Israelite hill country, 22 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Israeli archaeologist Trude Dothan and I jointly directed this excavation for 14 seasons before we concluded in 1996. The excavation produced dramatic new evidence that has radically altered our understanding of Philistine history.

What were regarded as the distinctive features of Philistine culture, indeed, did disappear. As the archaeological evidence piled up, however, it became clear that the Philistines continued to exist, although they had adopted features of other cultures. However—and this is the important point—they also retained their ethnic identity as Philistines, only to be obliterated in the path of the Babylonian assaults of the late seventh century and early sixth century B.C.E.

Read the rest of Excavating Ekron in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.

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