A handful of skeletons discovered in the Middle East have shed light on the backstory of the Philistines, described in the Bible as one of the Israelites main rivals.
Philistines, whose origins have puzzled experts for decades, migrated to Palestine to which they gave their names from southern EuropeAuthors of an investigation
A genetic study was carried out on human remains found in the Philistine city of Ashkelon, located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea north of the Gaza Strip using ancient DNA extracted from their bones.
Scientists have discovered that this mysterious ancient group of people actually originated in southern Europe around 3,500 years ago in the early Iron Age.
The exact origin is difficult to pin down, it could be from anywhere in northern Italy, Sardinia, Greece, or Cyprus.
However, there was also a time when the prosperous cultures across the Mediterranean began to crumble, especially the Greeks.
The study Of Philistines
The skeletal remains of 10 individuals were unearthed in a well-known Philistine cemetery in the ancient port city of Ashkelon in Israel, one of five Philistine city-states cited in the Hebrew Bible.
Three of the individuals were from the pre-Philistine Bronze Age, four babies dated from the Iron Age in the 12th century BC, and the last three skeletons were from the Iron Age after the 10th century BC By analyzing DNA, the experts discovered considerable variations in the genome.
Although all three groups are mostly related to the Middle Eastern gene pool, individuals who died around 1100 BC had significant levels of European ancestry.
However, later individuals derived most of their ancestry from the local Levante gene pool.
This suggests that the Philistines arrived from Europe in the early Iron Age and then quickly mixed with local populations in ancient Israel and the rest of the Levant.
Choongwon Jeong of the Max Planck Institute for Science in Human History
In no more than two centuries, this genetic fingerprint introduced during the early Iron Age is no longer detectable and appears to be diluted by a local Levant-related gene pool.
In this way, DNA analysis definitively confirms the hypothesis about the origin of the Philistines of the so-called peoples of the sea, protagonists of a wave of immigration to the eastern Mediterranean in the 13th century BC.
These brought to the Middle East, including Israeli and Palestinian lands current, iron metallurgy.
Daniel Master, expedition director Leon Levy in Ashkelon, told National Geographic.
It fits with the Egyptian and other texts that we have, and it agrees with [the archaeological material].
The Philistines are best known for being the violent and expansive archenemies of the Israelites, as described in the Hebrew Bible.
This rivalry, which was often rife with warfare, meant that many contemporary written sources gave them a bad rap, describing them as crude, uneducated, and anti-intellectual.
Probably the most famous Philistine of all is the champion Goliath, the giant defeated by the young David, who later became King David of Israel and Judah.
But these ancient people are not just myths and legends.
There is a ton of modern archaeological evidence showing that the Philistines were real, from ancient Egyptian inscriptions to their distinctive pottery.
It is curious that the descendants of these migrants only two centuries after the invasion present a low rate of European genes despite the continuity in material culture.
It follows that the peoples of the sea mixed with the local Semitic populations, assimilating themselves genetically with them, despite the fact that in the Bible they are characterized as sworn enemies of the Israelites.