A team of researchers have unearthed the first known cemetery of the Philistines in southern Israel, which may reveal the origins of the famous Hebrew Biblical villains, who made up one of the tribes of Sea Peoples. Due to the discovery, many answers have finally been found regarding these mysterious people.
The cemetery was actually unearthed in 2013, but archaeologists kept their discovery secret for three years until all excavations had been completed. A thorough examination of the burials provides further support to the view that the Philistines came from the Aegean Sea region. Moreover, they had very close ties with the Phoenicians.
The impressive discovery is the most important finding in the history of research related to the Philistines. As Lawrence E. Stager, the Professor of the Archeology of Israel, Emeritus, at Harvard University said:
“Ninety-nine percent of the chapters and articles written about Philistine burial customs should be revised or ignored now that we have the first and only Philistine cemetery.”
According to National Geographic , the discovery of the large cemetery took place outside the walls of the ancient city of the Philistines – Tel Ashkelon. It was the most important and thriving Philistine settlement and harbor between the 12 th and 7 th centuries BC. After thirty years of excavations, the researchers, led by Lawrence E. Stager, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985, are finally able to answer some of the questions related to the Philistines.
The cemetery, which dates to between 11th and 8th centuries BC, contains the remains of more than 211 people. The major advantage of the cemetery is that it revealed not just one or two individuals, but a whole population, and the remains of people of different genders and ages. The tombs were not looted and had remained undisturbed for millennia, so they contain information that puts a fresh light on the origins of the Philistines. There is no evidence of any trauma on the bones, which suggests that these people died due to the natural reasons, not from war or any other kind of violence.
Moreover, due to the discovery, the researchers are able to learn about the lifestyles and burial rituals of these mysterious people. It seems that the Philistines were very different from the Canaanites and the highlanders in the east. The burials were also somehow different than the ones, which belong to other tribes of the Middle east. The researchers discovered about 150 cremated people buried in oval pits. Four of them were deposited in burial chamber tombs. Similar practices can be observed in Aegean cultures. Apart from the 150 individual pit graves, six burial chambers with multiple bodies were discovered.
SOURCE: NATALIA KLIMCZAK