Massive Archaeological Find Backs Up the Bible, Reveals Goliath's People
Archaeologists have uncovered the first Philistine cemetery, and it supports the biblical account of a people besides the Canaanites in the lands near ancient Israel. Ironically, the discovery seems to contradict the common meaning of the word "philistine," as someone who is "smugly indifferent to cultural values."
"The Philistines have had some bad press, and this will dispel a lot of myths," Harvard professor Lawrence E. Stager, who led the archaeological dig, told Britain's The Daily Mail. Stager has led the Leon Levy Expedition to the Philistine site of Ashkelon since 1985. The dig site is located in the Israeli port city of Ashkelon. This is the first major discovery of Philistine bodies, revealing new information that supports the general biblical narrative.
"This forms a baseline for what 'Philistine' is," Daniel M. Master, professor of archaeology at Wheaton College and a leader of the excavation, told Haaretz, Israel's oldest daily newspaper. "We can already say that the cultural practices we see here are substantially different from the Canaanites and the highlanders in the east."
The cemetery consists of more than 150 burials, some of which follow Aegean funerary practices, rather than the Near Eastern ones associated with the Canaanites or other peoples in the lands around ancient Israel.
"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," Stager declared.
The cemetery was found just outside the city walls of Tel Ashkelon, one of the Philistine's five primary cities in ancient Israel. The other cities were Gaza, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, where the giant Goliath came from.
The ceramics, architecture, burial customs, and pottery remains all provide evidence that the Philistines were not indigenous to ancient Israel, Haaretz reported.
This supports the biblical explanation that the Philistines were "the remnant from the coasts of Caphtor" (Jeremiah 47:4 and Amos 9:7), which has been taken to mean the island of Crete, in the south of the Aegean Sea. The Bible does not necessarily suggest that Crete was their original home, but the place through which they migrated to move into ancient Israel.
It is not entirely outside the realm of possibility that these people came from the carnage of wars around the ancient city of Troy, which itself has at least 12 different layers suggesting a long tumultuous history. It is also possible that they fled the Aegean after the eruption of Thera, a cataclysmic volcanic eruption that created the modern island of Santorini.
Next Page: What history, archaeology, and the Bible reveal about the Philistines, and why this discovery was kept secret for three years.