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The Philistines and Other “Sea Peoples” in Text and Archaeology

The Philistines and Other “Sea Peoples” in Text and Archaeology

Ann E. Killebrew
Gunnar Lehmann
  • Book Info
    The Philistines and Other “Sea Peoples” in Text and Archaeology
    Book Description:

    The search for the biblical Philistines, one of ancient Israel’s most storied enemies, has long intrigued both scholars and the public. Archaeological and textual evidence examined in its broader eastern Mediterranean context reveals that the Philistines, well-known from biblical and extrabiblical texts, together with other related groups of “Sea Peoples,” played a transformative role in the development of new ethnic groups and polities that emerged from the ruins of the Late Bronze Age empires. The essays in this book, representing recent research in the fields of archaeology, Bible, and history, reassess the origins, identity, material culture, and impact of the Philistines and other Sea Peoples on the Iron Age cultures and peoples of the eastern Mediterranean. The contributors are Matthew J. Adams, Michal Artzy, Tristan J. Barako, David Ben-Shlomo, Mario Benzi, Margaret E. Cohen, Anat Cohen-Weinberger, Trude Dothan, Elizabeth French, Marie-Henriette Gates, Hermann Genz, Ayelet Gilboa, Maria Iacovou, Ann E. Killebrew, Sabine Laemmel, Gunnar Lehmann, Aren M. Maeir, Amihai Mazar, Linda Meiberg, Penelope A. Mountjoy, Hermann Michael Niemann, Jeremy B. Rutter, Ilan Sharon, Susan Sherratt, Neil Asher Silberman, and Itamar Singer.

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-721-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  2. When the Past Was New: Moshe Dothan (1919–1999), an Appreciation
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Neil Asher Silberman
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Ann E. Killebrew and Gunnar Lehmann
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. 1. Introduction: The World of the Philistines and Other “Sea Peoples”
    (pp. 1-18)
    Ann E. Killebrew and Gunnar Lehmann

    This volume developed out of a 2001 workshop devoted to the Philistines and other “Sea Peoples,” which was co-organized by Ann E. Killebrew, Gunnar Lehmann, Michal Artzy, and Rachel Hachlili, and cosponsored by the University of Haifa and the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Both the workshop and this updated publication resulted from a sense of frustration with the unidirectional and overly simplistic interpretations of the Philistine phenomenon that has dominated scholarship during the twentieth century (see, e.g., T. Dothan 1982; T. Dothan and M. Dothan 1992; Yasur-Landau 2010). In an attempt to redress what we consider to be...

  6. The Philistines in Text and Archaeology

    • Chapter Two The Philistines in the Bible: A Short Rejoinder to a New Perspective
      (pp. 19-28)
      Itamar Singer

      In a recent article Israel Finkelstein (2002b) challenges traditional views on the early Philistines, claiming that “the biblical references to the Philistines do not contain any memory of early Iron I events or cultural behavior” (Finkelstein 2002b, 131).¹ Most of them are rather “based on the geographical, historical and ideological background of late-monarchic times,” even if they may contain some “seeds of early tales” (Finkelstein 2002b, 131). The revision of the so-called Philistine paradigm is a natural sequel of the overall “deconstruction” of the biblical united monarchy in the last decades, and as such, it provides a new stimulus to...

    • Chapter Three Mycenaean IIIC:1 Pottery in Philistia: Four Decades of Research
      (pp. 29-36)
      Trude Dothan and David Ben-Shlomo

      Philistine pottery was recognized over a hundred years ago and was linked to the material culture of the Philistines during the early Iron Age in Philistia. Trude Dothan’s work (1982) summarized the Aegean characteristics of this culture and created a comprehensive framework for it, based on the information available up to the early 1970s. However, the identification of another class of pottery during the late 1960s, the Mycenaean IIIC:1 or Philistine Monochrome, marked a new stage in the research of the Philistine material culture. The appearance of this pottery unquestionably sheds new light on cultural and chronological aspects of the...

    • Chapter Four Philistines and Egyptians in Southern Coastal Canaan during the Early Iron Age
      (pp. 37-52)
      Tristan J. Barako

      Essential to an understanding of the early history of the Philistines is their relationship to Twentieth Dynasty Egypt. Egyptian texts, particularly Papyrus Harris I and the Great Inscription at Medinet Habu, have informed the debate over how and when the Philistines came to be settled in southern coastal Canaan. According to the traditional paradigm, the Egyptians forcibly garrisoned the Philistines in southern Canaan after 1174 B.C.E., which corresponds to the eighth year of Ramesses III’s reign.¹ Increasingly over the past dozen years, however, both the circumstances and the date of the Philistines’ settlement have been called into question. An assessment...

    • Chapter Five The Mycenaean IIIC Pottery at Tel Miqne-Ekron
      (pp. 53-76)
      Penelope A. Mountjoy

      Excavations at Tel Miqne have taken place on the acropolis in Field INE (Killebrew 1996b; forthcoming b; Meehl, Dothan and Gitin 2006), in the center of the tell in Field IVNW (Garfinkel, Dothan and Gitin, forthcoming), in the southern part in Field III, and on the western slope in Field XNW (Bierling 1998; see also T. Dothan and Gitin 1993; T. Dothan and Gitin 2008 for a general overview). The material studied here comes from Fields I, IV, and X. It dates to Stratum VII. This stratum can be divided into VIIB (earlier phase) and VIIA (the later phase). Phase...

    • Chapter Six Early Philistine Pottery Technology at Tel Miqne-Ekron: Implications for the Late Bronze–Early Iron Age Transition in the Eastern Mediterranean
      (pp. 77-130)
      Ann E. Killebrew

      The search for the biblical Philistines has provided previously unanticipated insights into one of the most pivotal periods of time, namely, the demise of the Late Bronze “Age of Internationalism,” and the ensuing cultural and political fragmentation of the eastern Mediterranean region. Though clearly not composed during this period of transition and transformation, biblical accounts of the Philistines provide invaluable clues leading to the recovery of their material world. Referred to as the “Peleset” by the Egyptians, the Philistines are one of several invading peoples known from New Kingdom Egyptian texts that are grouped under the modern generic term “Sea...

    • Chapter Seven Philistine Lion-Headed Cups: Aegean or Anatolian?
      (pp. 131-144)
      Linda Meiberg

      Several sites in Israel have yielded a type of zoomorphic ceramic vessel whose lower part was molded into the shape of an animal’s face that most resembles a lion, or more precisely, a lioness. The faint traces of bichrome decoration preserved in red and black paint, as well as the find contexts for those uncovered in systematic excavations, clearly indicate that these vessels are to be classified within the Philistine cultural sphere. Trude Dothan was the first to study these vessels as a class of object, concluding that they are closely related to lion-headed rhyta from the Bronze Age Aegean...

    • Chapter Eight A Few Tomb Groups from Tell el-Farʿah South
      (pp. 145-190)
      Sabine Laemmel

      Starting from the premise that political and/or socioeconomical changes in ancient societies are to some extent reflected in contemporary material culture, this paper will examine how the transition from the Late Bronze to the early Iron Age (from the late-thirteenth/early-twelfth to the mid-eleventh centuries B.C.E.) at the southern border of Canaan manifested itself in the material remains from the peripheral site of Tell el-Farʿah South in the Negev. Although the importance of Tell el-Farʿah is relevant to other significant aspects of the region’s history and archaeology at that time, such as the relationship between the southern Levant and Egypt, the...

    • Chapter Nine Philistia Transforming: Fresh Evidence from Tell eṣ-Ṣafi/Gath on the Transformational Trajectory of the Philistine Culture
      (pp. 191-242)
      Aren M. Maeir

      Human culture, both in the past and present, has undergone (and is still undergoing) constant processes of change. Defined under the general rubric of “culture change” (see, e.g., Keesing 1973), they are amongst the most fascinating aspects in the study of human culture. Needless to say, within this wide definition, a broad range of processes and trajectories have been identified, both as causes and results. For example, much has been written on the changes caused by the movement of populations from one location to another, whether through migration, immigration, and/or other related processes. Likewise, in a wide range of societies...

    • Chapter Ten Neighbors and Foes, Rivals and Kin: Philistines, Shepheleans, Judeans between Geography and Economy, History and Theology
      (pp. 243-264)
      Hermann Michael Niemann

      The methodical consideration of the geographical, ecological, economic, and sociological structures of southern Syria and Palestine is required for reconstructing its historical developments in the first millennium B.C.E. and distinguishing them from the theological presentation in the Bible, which is highly Israel-centered. In light of the area’s geography of coastal plain, hill country, and mountain region, and countering the Bible’s point of view, this chapter will use the coastal perspective. Viewing the structure of local hierarchy from the coast (Ashdod) toward the eastern border of the coastal plain (Gath/Ekron), and the Shephelah (Timnah) to Beth Shemesh at the western border...

  7. The Other “Sea Peoples” in the Levant

    • Chapter Eleven Aegean-Style Pottery in Syria and Lebanon during Iron Age I
      (pp. 265-328)
      Gunnar Lehmann

      Understanding and explaining the transition from Late Bronze Age to Iron Age in the Levant with its changes and continuities remains a major challenge for archaeology. Among the new elements appearing during the Iron Age in the Levant are decorated ceramics of the LH IIIC (LH IIIC) tradition. Mycenaean pottery (LH IIIA and IIIB) was imported already during the Late Bronze Age to Syria, but the LH IIIC styles of the Iron Age were mostly locally produced and had a wider distribution, appearing even in smaller, rural sites.¹ Recent archaeological research has significantly increased the amount and the variety of...

    • Chapter Twelve On the Other “Sea Peoples”
      (pp. 329-344)
      Michal Artzy

      Unlike the Philistines, who are well documented in both the archaeological and textual evidence, our understanding of the other groups usually associated with the “Sea Peoples” and their material culture has been elusive largely due to the patchy nature of this evidence.¹ The utilization of ancient written records intermingled with archaeological data is an obvious, yet problematic practice given the dearth and disjointed nature of data from the period and the varied circumstances, time, and geographical areas which tend to be pooled in any discussion (for a comprehensive summary of textual references to the Philistines and other “Sea Peoples,” see...

    • Chapter Thirteen The Origin and Date of Aegean-Type Pottery in the Levant
      (pp. 345-348)
      Elizabeth French

      During the course of the 2001 workshop on the Philistines and other “Sea Peoples” and its many useful presentations and discussions, I came to the conclusion that, as I had previously suspected,¹ there was only one point in the pottery development of the twelfth century to which on present evidence we can assign first impetus for the phenomenon that we had met to study. It is self-evident that a phenomenon such as this is most unlikely to have occurred independently in several regions at approximately the same time; there must be an impetus.

      The evidence from both Cilicia and Philistia...

    • Chapter Fourteen “Mycenaean IIIC” and Related Pottery from Beth Shean
      (pp. 349-392)
      Susan Sherratt and Amihai Mazar

      A restorable stirrup jar and fragments of two other stirrup jars from Level VI of the University of Pennsylvania excavations at Beth Shean were published over thirty years ago by V. Hankey and have since continued to provide the only direct link between imported Late Helladic (LH) IIIC pottery and Egyptian historical chronology (Hankey 1966; 1967, 127–28; James 1966, fig. 49:4). In 1989 Warren and Hankey classified these sherds as “LH IIIC Middle” (Warren and Hankey 1989, 164–65). Since Beth Shean Level VI is dated to the Twentieth Dynasty (James 1966, 149–51; Ward in James 1966, 161–...

    • Chapter Fifteen The SKL Town: Dor in the Early Iron Age
      (pp. 393-468)
      Ilan Sharon and Ayelet Gilboa

      Dor is a crucial site for the evaluation of a “northern Sea Peoples” phenomenon. It is the only site specifically associated with a non-Philistine “Sea People” by an ancient source—the TKR/SKL according to the Egyptian Tale of Wenamun (e.g., ANET, 25–29; Goedicke 1975). The latter, however, is of disputed historical validity and context (cf. recently Sass 2002 and references to earlier treatments therein; for the SKL and Dor, see, e.g., Scheepers 1991 and references in Stern 2000b, 198).

      The association of the SKL with other sites, like Tel Zeror (e.g., Kochavi 1993, 1526), and of other groups with...

  8. Anatolia, the Aegean, and Cyprus

    • Chapter Sixteen “No land could stand before their arms, from Hatti … on …”? New Light on the End of the Hittite Empire and the Early Iron Age in Central Anatolia
      (pp. 469-478)
      Hermann Genz

      According to the inscription of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu (see Adams and Cohen, this volume), the end of the Hittite Empire is attributed to the actions of the Sea Peoples. Although no foreign elements in the Hittite heartlands point to invading foreigners, at least the apparently violent destruction of the capital Hattuša and many other Hittite settlements seemed to confirm the Egyptian texts. Continuing research at Boğazköy/Hattuša, however, casts doubt on the idea that the city met its end in a sudden catastrophe. The evidence points to a rather slow decline. Moreover, with the end of the Hittite Empire,...

    • Chapter Seventeen Cilicia
      (pp. 479-484)
      Elizabeth French

      Cilicia, the name of a Roman province, is used as a convenient designation for the area between the Taurus Mountains and the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean during various periods of its history. The plain is called the Çukurova in Turkish and comprises the provinces (iller) of Mersin (formerly Içel) and Adana (formerly Seyhan) of the modern state of Turkey. The open plain at the east is watered by the river valleys of the Seyhan and Ceyhan and is divided from the ‘Amuq Plain by the Amanos Range. The Ceyhan forms a route (certainly used at least in Roman times)...

    • Chapter Eighteen Early Iron Age Newcomers at Kinet Höyük, Eastern Cilicia
      (pp. 485-508)
      Marie-Henriette Gates

      Over the course of a sixteen-year field project, the Kinet Höyük excavations succeeded in investigating an instructive sample of Late Bronze and early Iron Age phases at this ancient seaport in the Mediterranean’s northeasternmost corner. While the exposure of these levels was moderate in size (320 m²) and restricted to the mound’s west side, the results showed such highly characterized features that they may well apply to the site as a whole. They document a sharp break at the end of LB II, and resettlement of the site in the following century by a different population. This report presents a...

    • Chapter Nineteen The Southeast Aegean in the Age of the Sea Peoples
      (pp. 509-542)
      Mario Benzi

      Since the beginning of Late Bronze (LB) III, the southeast Aegean islands as well as some sites on the west coast of Asia Minor (Miletus, Iasos, and Müskebi) came under Mycenaean control and throughout the Mycenaean palace period their inhabitants adopted many aspects of the Mycenaean culture, such as burial customs, pottery, weapons, and jewelry. Like the islands of the central Aegean and other marginal areas, the southeast Aegean may be regarded as a province of the so-called Mycenaean Periphery, although there is still much discussion on the nature of the Mycenaean presence and involvement there.¹

      Unfortunately, the lack of...

    • Chapter Twenty Aegean Elements in the Earliest Philistine Ceramic Assemblage: A View From The West
      (pp. 543-562)
      Jeremy B. Rutter

      Ann Killebrew’s publication in some detail of the pottery from the earliest Iron Age levels isolated in Field INE at Tel Miqne-Ekron has sharply defined the nature of the change in locally produced ceramics at the interface between the end of the LB II era and the initial Iron I period (1998a; 1998b).¹ Her subsequent analysis of what appear to be intrusive features in the earliest Iron I assemblage at that site (2000) has established what the nature and range of the Aegean elements are in the pottery that has been persuasively associated with the initial Philistine occupation of Tel...

    • Chapter Twenty-One The Late LH IIIB and LH IIIC Early Pottery of the East Aegean–West Anatolian Interface
      (pp. 563-584)
      Penelope A. Mountjoy

      This paper discusses some of the characteristic ceramic features of the East Aegean–West Anatolian Interface (see Mountjoy 1998, 33–67) in the late LH IIIB and LH IIIC Early phases. This is the period of the collapse of the Mycenaean palatial centers on the Greek Mainland, the fall of the Hittite Empire, and the activities of the so-called Sea Peoples. A brief overview of the characteristic ceramic features of the Interface in these phases has already been presented;¹ it is enlarged here with particular reference to the Rhodian Style. Even though the ceramic corpus from the Interface in these...

    • Chapter Twenty-Two Aegean-Style Material Culture in Late Cypriot III: Minimal Evidence, Maximal Interpretation
      (pp. 585-618)
      Maria Iacovou

      My assignment is to contribute the Cyprus piece of the jigsaw puzzle. I intend to devote the first part of this paper to provide a Cyprocentric perspective to the Workshop’s primary theme: “In light of recent discoveries and written texts, how do we understand the social, economic, and political structure at the end of the Late Bronze Age and the transition to the Iron Age in the eastern Mediterranean?”¹ My response will focus on the potentials and the shortcomings of the relevant material evidence.

      It is a well-known fact that there are no new or, for that matter, old readable...

    • Chapter Twenty-Three The Ceramic Phenomenon of the “Sea Peoples”: An Overview
      (pp. 619-644)
      Susan Sherratt

      The act of crystallizing in print the proceedings of a successful workshop, like the 2001 workshop on the Philistines and other Sea Peoples, which gave rise to this volume, is always a tricky business. This is because the best workshops invariably have an interim, contingent character, marked by a strong sense of “work in progress,” by the free exchange of new (and often raw) information, spontaneous ad hoc (and usually half-digested) responses, and the uninhibited interchange of different approaches and different points of view in as cooperative, open-minded, and exploratory a fashion as possible. A really good workshop is an...

  9. Appendix The “Sea Peoples” in Primary Sources
    (pp. 645-664)
    Matthew J. Adams and Margaret E. Cohen
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 665-738)
  11. Subject Index
    (pp. 739-752)