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11420Re: Philistine Architecture? (was: Philistine areas)

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  • dp@exegesisinternational.org
    Oct 3, 2009
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      Dear David (and, in turn, Jon),

      "Could the 11th century Egyptian story of Wenamum visiting the Sikils (sea people) at Dor be used as evidence for the sea peoples paradigm? Dor is about 60 kms north of the Tel Qasille/Tel Aviv area. Inscriptions at Medinet Habu and Ugarit have been used as evidence of the existence of Sea People movements during the LBA-IA transition for years."

      Absolutely. Moreover, there is much information that has come from Dor, especially in the area of ceramic evidence. The work to consult is that of Ayelet Gilboa. Please consult the following articles:

      "Sea Peoples and Phoenicians along the Southern Phoenician Coast--A Reconciliation: And Interpretation of Sikila (SKL) Material Culture" (2005). BASOR 337: 47-78.

      "Fragmenting the Sea Peoples, With an Emphasis on Cyprus, Syria and Egypt: A Tel Dor Perspective" (2008). Scripta Mediterranea 27-28: 209-244.

      In my own words, what Gilboa seems to have found is a clear distinction between the ethnicity of the Philistines and the Sea People that conquered/occupied Dor. And contra Jon Smyth, this is not just smoke and mirrors. There is hard evidence in the form of material cultural remains.

      As for Smyth's suggestion that we hardly know anything about these people, ergo we cannot confidently suggest that the Philistines are a distinct ethnic group, I would reply that Mr. Smyth most likely has not read all of the literature on the subject, including pertinent journal articles, from Stager's 1995 chapter/article until the present.

      Given Smyth's proximity to the U. of Toronto library, he has all of the tools in his own backyard. Moreover, the U. of T.'s ANE archaeology prof, Timothy Harrison, has found clear evidence of intrusive foreign influence (interpreted to be Philistine) at Tell Tayinat, which was the center of an Iron-I kingdom called Palastin.

      Tayinat is in the Amuq Plain of ancient Syria, and it became predominant in the area at the expense of Alalakh (nearby Tell Atchana), probably due to a shift in the flow of the Orontes River. In his chapter in Exploring the Longue Duree: Essays in Honor of Lawrence E. Stager (Eisenbrauns, 2009), Harrison discusses an important inscription found at Aleppo.

      A fragmentary Luwian inscription was found in a wall of an Aleppo mosque. Though the inscription remains unpublished, J. D. Hawkins has undertaken its translation and publication. Hawkins dated the inscription to the 11th c. BC(E) based on paleography and associated iconography.

      As a part of the inscription, Hawkins has identified Taitas, "Hero and King of the land of Palastin" (Hawkins, 2004), undoubtedly Tayinat's king. Other similar inscriptions were found at sites in the Amuq, including Tayinat. In conjunction with this epigraphical evidence, much data exists in the form of material cultural evidence: pottery, loomweights, and major shifts in dietary habits.

      Much of this material evidence is presented by Brian Janeway, a PhD student of Harrison, in his 2008 essay, "The Nature and Extent of Aegean Contact at Tell Ta'yinat and Vicinity in the Early Iron Age: Evidence of the Sea Peoples?", also in Scripta Mediterranea 27-28: 123-146.

      So, not only is there a plethora of evidence of the Philistines' presence in the Pentapolis and on the Philistine coast of Israel, there is much to be found up into the northern Levant, even to Tarsus. We should be careful, though, about putting our heads in the sand rather than studying carefully the evidence.

      Blanket statements of disagreement and doubt are fine, at least until there is hard evidence in front of us that cannot be dismissed. And now, thanks to the hard work of many, there is such evidence out there. As strong as the argument is from the Medinet Haba reliefs, this has been complimented by clear archaeological data.


      Doug Petrovich

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