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.1 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.2 Israeli archaeologist Trude Dothan and I jointly directed this excavation for 14 seasons before we concluded in 1996.3 The excavation produced dramatic new evidence that has radically altered our understanding of Philistine history.
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