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One of the Bible’s deepest and most important mysteries could very soon be solved.  For the first time ever, archaeologists have found a cemetery belonging to the Philistines. The mass gave doesn’t only include Philistines, but also 200 other people who have been buried there.

The Philistines

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The ancient Philistines aren’t known for their great reputation throughout history. In fact, the modern word philistine means “someone who is smug and lacking in culture.”

After recent discoveries, we may have been wrong about the Philistines all along.

Bias in the Bible

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Many believe that the Jews wrote the Bible. Since the Philistines and the Jews were enemies, they were bias and painted them in a bad light. Just take the story of David and Goliath.

Samson and Delilah

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Another Bible story that paints Philistines in a bad light is Samson and Delilah. Delilah is a Philistine that seduces Samson. She then cuts off his hair, which is the source of his strength, and her people kidnap and enslave him.

Looking at Facts

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What we do know about the Philistines, other than what the Bible has told us, is that they lived near the Mediterranean Sea. Today the area is considered Israel. In fact, their settlement Ashkelon is still around today.

Archaeology

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Archaeologists have dug up many artifacts, some dating back to the 12th Century B.C. From this, we have learned that the Philistines were quite influenced by the Greeks.

Origin Story

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The Bible says that the Philistines originated in the Land of Caphtor, Crete today. However, historians believe that they raided the Mediterranean.

Egypt

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During Pharaoh Ramses III reign, he went to war with Sea Peoples, known as the Pelesets, in 1180 B.C. Historians believe that these people could have been the ancestors of the Philistines.

Peleset Tribe

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Evidence shows that the Peleset tribe settled down in the same area as where the Ashkelon settlement is. It would make sense that the Pelesets and the Philistines are closely related.

Other Beliefs

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Not all historians and archaeologists believe the Peleset theory. Aren Maeir, an archaeologist from Ban-Ilan University thinks that the Philistines were a mixture of people and tribes integrated from Canaan.

The Discovery

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Archaeologists started digging in Ashkelon in 1985. It wasn’t until 2013 that they discovered something that could change history.

A Graveyard

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Archaeologists discovered the very first graveyard of the Philistines. They had never found one before this. “The search for a cemetery became so desperate that archaeologists who study the Philistines began to joke that they were buried at sea like the Vikings – that’s why they couldn’t find them,” archaeologist Assaf Yasur-Landau joked.

Second Opinions

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“I was one asked, if someone gave me a million dollars, what would I do. I said, I’d go out and look for a Sea Peoples’ site that explains where they came from, or where they ended up. It sounds to me like [the Ashkelon team] may have just hit the jackpot,” Eric Cline from George Washington University said.

Down to the Wire

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The discovery took years to find. In fact, it wasn’t until the very last day of the dig that the cemetery was discovered.

Location

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The burial grounds were just north of Ashkelon. Archaeologists actually received a tip from someone that they had seen some graves in the area during one of their digs.

Teeth

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The archaeology team dug a hole that was ten feet deep. Adam Aja from Harvard’s Semitic Museum was lowered into the hole and discovered a human tooth. This tooth would change everything we knew about the Philistines.

Life Changing

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“When I saw the tooth, I knew that was the moment when it was all going to change for us here,” Aja told National Geographic. As the team kept digging, they uncovered 211 remains.

Burial Traditions

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At closer look, it was determined that the Philistines had different burial traditions than the Canaanites and Jews.

Philistine Burial

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It was common for the remains of loved ones to be moved to a second location after a primary burial. However, the Philistines had single and mass graves that they did not dig back up. They even cremated some bodies.

Burial Items

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Unlike the Egyptians, the Philistines didn’t bury their dead with too many possessions. Small bowls and jewelry were discovered with the remains.

The Truth

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“From our standpoint, the excavation is just the first chapter of the story. I’ve been at Ashkelon for 25 years, and I guess it’s just the beginning,” archaeologist Daniel Master from Wheaton College said. This was just the start to uncovering the truth about the Philistines.