Modern historians divide the roughly 3,000 year-period beginning approximately 3200 B.C. into two major segments—the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The Bronze Age I extends from about 3200 B.C. to 1200 B.C.a Thereafter it is the Iron Age.b This is some indication of the enormous importance (as well as the date generally) of the discovery of iron technology in the eastern Mediterranean.
Archaeology and modern science are now beginning to clarify how this fundamental change occurred, and in so doing a new dimension has been added to our understanding of Biblical history in general as well as to our understanding of particular Biblical passages.
As a result, we may even be able to answer the much-mooted question: Did the Philistines have an iron monopoly that enabled them, at least for a time, to dominate the Israelites? Answering this question will involve us in a consideration of the famous passage from 1 Samuel: