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New insights into Philistine religion and their enigmatic culture

TWH – The Philistines archeology last month.

The Philistines are mysterious for several reasons. First, they left a minimal record of their world.Second, their enemies, the ancient Hebrews, wrote most of what we know about them. related to collapse

Philistine Relics, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel – Image Credit: Gary Todd, Xinzheng, China – CC0

Bronze Age Collapse and Sea Peoples

During the Bronze Age, several major powers in the Levant were linked by trade and exchange. Egypt, the Hittites, and Minoan Mycenae all became culturally, economically, and militarily powerful. At some point in the 1200s BC, a great crisis occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Analyzes of pollen and sediment from Greece and the Levant show “severe desiccation” from about 1250 BC. These disruptions may have led to social unrest and mass migration across the region.

Egyptian records tell of a battle around 1175 BC. In that battle, Ramesses III fought the Sea Peoples. It is now believed that the Sea People were refugees from that crisis. They began to raid established powers in the region.

Evidence across the Eastern Mediterranean shows evidence of chaos and violence. Some violence may have been due to internal unrest rather than raids by the Sea People. It was a decades-long process rather than a single event.

After 1200 BC, the Minoan-Mycenaean culture disappeared. Greece enters the Greek Dark Ages. The Hittites of Anatolia disappeared. Egypt survived, but lost control over Canaan. When Egypt lost control, the Hebrews, Philistines, and Phoenicians emerged.

A Brief History of the Philistines

The Iron Age followed the Bronze Age. In the Levant, the Iron Age lasted from 1200 BC to 539 BC. The Philistines lived along the southeastern coast of the Levant. They had his five principal cities: Ashdon, Askeron, Ekron, Gath and Gaza. Only Gaza, which is still inhabited, remains unexcavated.

Philistine Pentapolis Map – Image credit: Cush – CC0

Historian Allen Meyer has challenged the historical consensus that Sea Peoples conquered and settled the Levant. They became Philistines. He claims that the Umi no Tami were made up of a motley group of “opportunistic pirate tribes”. In the late 1200s and early 1100s BC, some of them settled on the southern Levant coast. Meir claims they settled “almost peacefully among the local Canaanites.” Over time they created a mixed Philistine culture.

The last Philistine city was destroyed by the Neo-Babylonians in 604 BC. The surviving Philistines went into exile in Mesopotamia. About a century later, evidence of the Philistines disappears from history.

Religion of the Philistines

journal religion It was published Philistine Cult and Religion: According to Archaeological EvidenceIt investigated a study of known sources of Philistine religion. This article distinguished between their public and domestic cults. Evidence showed that the local Canaanite cult had a great influence on the public Philistine cult.

In contrast, Aegean cult practices had a greater influence on Philistine household cults. We also distinguished between the Levantine Iron Age I and the Levantine Iron Age II.Levantine Iron Age I lasted from 1200 to 1000 BC Levantine Iron Age II lasted from 1000 to 539 BC

public cult of the Philistines

Ben-Shlomo defined public cult material as that found in temples and public shrines. Identifies temples based on ‘and location’. Public cult structures have an “inherent and fairly constant cult function.”

Excavations at Gath have revealed the Second Levantine Iron Age temple D3. The Philistines built temple D3 over the previous temple.

Temple D3 had an outer north-facing courtyard, three rooms, and a large room. In the depths of that room, archaeologists discovered a “unique monolithic two-horned altar.” Objects found include 200 ankle bones, but few figures.

The temple of Tel Kasile dates from the Levantine Iron Age I. There were 3 layers. In the early stages, excavators found him a one-room temple. A bench was adjacent to the wall. There was a bama, a raised place, for the sacrifice.

In later layers, builders expanded the structure. There was an indirect entrance, an entrance hall, and a main hall with pillars. In the back, there was an indirect entrance to another room in the back. Another one-room shrine stood nearby. Its one-room shrine contained many cult vessels.

Other discoveries include “various anthropomorphic and animalized drinking vessels decorated in the philistine bichrome style.” There is no iconography to indicate Aegean influence. Archaeologists have also found a bird-shaped bowl and two terracotta pomegranate vessels.

The temple of Nahal Patish dates from the late Levantine Iron Age I. It has an asymmetrical L shape. Someone would enter through a courtyard containing a pit and altar for offerings.

There were two passages leading from the courtyard. The right side led to a square storeroom, an offering pit, and cooking ingredients. The passage on the left led to an indirect entrance to the temple. The temple had raised areas for offering sacrifices. Stairs leading to that raised area. Nearby were bronze knives, pieces of gold leaf, and other objects.

The purpose and design of the temple mainly show Canaanite influence. However, some cult objects show the philistine bikerome style in their decoration.

Philistine home worship

Archaeologists identify domestic cult sites as those found in domestic settings such as “cult corners” and “house shrines.” The author defined household areas as “cult corners” or “house shrines” when almost all objects had only symbolic uses.

During excavations at Ashkelon, archaeologists have found a house altar in room 572 of grid 38. They dated it to the 1100s BC. In one room he found what appeared to be a four-cornered altar made of earth, covered with lime plaster. Its altar resembles the Cypriot “consecration horn”.

In Ashdod, Ashkelon and Ekron archaeologists have found Aegean figures. They didn’t find many, but what they did find had a clear connection to Aegean figurines. . Archaeologists have found him three main types: rhinoceros figurines, Ashdodha and cow figurines.

In the Psi figurine, a schematic woman raises her hands in the shape of the Greek letter Psi (Ψ). They found these in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Tellher Kashre.

The Snake Goddess May Be the Origin of the Philistine Ψ Figure – Pushkin Museum, Moscow – Image credit: shakko – CC BY 3.0

Some readers may notice similarities between the rhinoceros figurine and the Minoan serpent goddess.

“Ashdada” depicts a seated woman. This terracotta has a crown-like headdress on a small head, a long neck, and a schematic flat body. In her seat she has four legs. The sculptor attached her chest, eyes and nose to that body.

Her features show both Aegean and Canaanite influences. It appears to have “evolved” from the seated Mycenaean female figure. She appears only after the Bronze Age collapses.

In Ekron, archaeologists have found decorated cow-like figurines. They have found no other decorated animal-like figurines in the early Iron Age southern Levant. It resembled the Aegean and Cyprus cow figurines.

Ship provided by Kernos – image credit: Lyokoï – CC BY-SA 4.0

In Gato, archaeologists have found pottery pomegranates and animal-shaped vessels. They also discovered ‘kernos’, a unique type of terracotta structure for making offerings. It takes the form of a “tubular ring with various headspouts and vessels attached.”

No one has yet discovered a Philistine equivalent to the Eddas, the Homeric epic, or the Ulster cycle. Without some such texts, modern man cannot know the names of their gods, let alone their myths.