An ancient cemetery could change how we view the Philistines of the Bible

Call someone a “philistine” and you’re suggesting they’re dumb, or uncultured, or both – but is this view of the Philistines of the Bible actually justified? Thanks to the discovery of an ancient cemetery in Ashkelon in Israel, archaeologists are about to learn a lot more about this group of people – a group that’s largely remained a mystery for thousands of years. In fact, it’s the very first Philistine cemetery to be discovered, giving experts the chance to examine human remains as well as objects buried below ground. Already, 200 skeletons have been unearthed at the site.

“After decades of studying what Philistines left behind, we have finally come face to face with the people themselves,” one of the leaders of the excavation, archaeologist Daniel Master from Wheaton College, Illinois, told AP. “With this discovery we are close to unlocking the secrets of their origins.”In addition to Wheaton College, researchers from Harvard University, Boston College, and Troy University were involved in the excavation, which has been ongoing since 1985.

The cemetery was actually found three years ago, but the announcement was held back to avoid the attention of ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters, who believe such digs can violate religious law.

The cemetery was found 3 metres (about 10 feet) underground, underneath the site of a Roman vineyard.Alongside skeletons, the team uncovered decorated juglets (for perfumed oil), weapons, bracelets, and earrings, suggesting the Philistines weren’t so uncivilised after all – and meaning we might have to find a new insult for those friends who just don’t ‘get’ art. Source: An ancient cemetery could change how we view the Philistines of the Bible

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