Archaeology Shows Philistines, Enemy of Israelites, Came From Europe |

TBC Staff

New evidence has revealed that the ancient people most known for their biblical conflict with the Israelites were immigrants to the region in the 12th century BCE.

“For 30 years, we excavated at Ashkelon, uncovering Canaanites, early Philistines and later Philistines – and now we can begin to understand the story that these bones tell,” said Daniel M. Master, director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, who headed the excavations.

The team used state-of-the-art DNA technologies on ancient bone samples unearthed during the excavation from 1985-2016. Analyzing for the first time genome-wide data retrieved from people who lived in Ashkelon during the Bronze and Iron ages (around 3,600 to 2,800 years ago), the team found that a substantial proportion of their ancestry was derived from a European population.

New evidence has revealed that the ancient people most known for their biblical conflict with the Israelites were immigrants to the region in the 12th century BCE.

According to the Book of Joshua, the land of the Philistines was in the southwestern Levant comprising the five city-states of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarkon River in the north.

The Israelites’ conflict with the Philistines is well attested to in the Bible. Samson slays 1,000 Philistines in Judges 15, and David battles Philistine Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, among other examples.

Dr. Adam A. Aja, assistant curator of collections at the Harvard Semitic Museum and one of the Ashkelon Philistine cemetery archaeologists, said that people today often want to know, “who are we, where did we come from?

“When we found the infants – infants that were too young to travel... these infants couldn’t march or sail to get to the land around Ashkelon, so they were born on site. And their DNA revealed [that] their parents’ heritage was not from the local population,” Aja explained, referring to the new genetic input from the direction of Southern Europe that was found in bone samples taken from infants buried under the floors of Philistine homes, as was the custom during that period.

“All the work of previous scholarship was pointing in that direction,” said Aja. “The DNA answered that definitively for us… The DNA gave us the opportunity to let these people speak for themselves.”

The researchers also found that the European-related component could no longer be traced in later Iron Age individuals from Ashkelon.

In other words, within two centuries or less, the genetic footprint introduced during the early Iron Age is no longer detectable and seems to be diluted by the local Levantine gene pool, which researchers say suggests intensive admixture between local and foreign populations. Yet, there was continuity in their ethnicity.

“The Philistines stayed Philistines,” explained Masters. “Later people who called themselves Philistines looked very much like the people around them….“And now, we can see that the puzzle we are putting together actually matches what we thought it was going to be,” he said.

[TBC: In other words, those who have claimed the name "Palestinians" have no basis for an ancestral claim to the ancient Philistines. In truth, the idea of Palestine being a nation-state opposed to Israel or as a racial group that predates the presence of Jewish habitation is historically false.]