Philistines from the North?

Recently, people have been asking Prof. Aren Maeir, excavator at the ancient site of Gath (Tell es-Safi), about a news article that claims the Philistines originated in southern Turkey. His answer: No, they didn’t.

Read the longer (but still brief) answer here:

Philistines from the North? | The Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath Official (and Unofficial) Weblog.

New Perspectives on the Philistines by Aren Maeir

Aren Maeir (Bar Ilan University) heads up the excavation team at Tell es-Safi (the site of ancient Gath). Not only is he one of the world’s leading experts on the ancient Philistines, he’s also a really nice guy, and a would-be pirate (just call him ARRRen).

Aren Maeir beside a Philistine altar excavated at Tell es-Safi (ancient Gath)

Aren recently presented a lecture at the College de France in Paris, in which he discussed the most recent archaeological evidence that has led us to update our understanding of Philistine origins, culture, and interactions with the Israelites. It’s fascinating stuff, and a must for those wanting to get up to speed with where research is currently at.

The lecture is in the clip below. Please also check out Aren’s blog on the excavations at Gath here: https://gath.wordpress.com/

Enjoy!

Aren Maeir’s Perspective on the Ceramic Inscription from Jerusalem

On the ANE-2 list, Aren Maeir, Director of the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, chimes in with his opinion on the ceramic inscription discovered during Eilat Mazar’s dig in Jerusalem. Aren writes:

Prof. Aren Maeir

Just received my copy of the IEJ issue with the article on the Ophel inscription. I must say that from what I can see from the drawing of the pottery, it appears to me to be a 9th cent. BCE form. As I’m in the field and without the literature, I can’t give exact parallels, but offhand, I would think that they are reminiscent of the so-called “Ajrud Pithoi”.

If this is the case (and as I stated above, this needs to be checked carefully), the only way the inscription can be 11th or 10th century BCE is if these early letters were floating around in the air for a century or so (like the “floating letters” in art by Mordechai Ardon), and then, sometime in the 9th century decided to settle on a pithos rim…

🙂

 

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More on the finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa

After another perusal of a somewhat difficult to decipher précis of yesterday’s (May 8th) news conference, it may be that Garfinkel and Ganor are not arguing for two distinct Arks of God. Rather, they are probably claiming that there was just one Ark, with the boxes revealed yesterday being replicas in miniature. Even so, the connection between these two artefacts and the Ark is still quite tenuous in my opinion. I’m just not convinced.

Tom Verenna argues fairly convincingly against the theory put forward yesterday by Garfinkel and Ganor. He argues that the two boxes are not mini-replicas of the Ark, but rather represent a type of portable shrine that probably housed a small idol (eg. of Asherah). His blog post is well worth reading and includes images (excuse the pun) of comparable portable shrines discovered previously.

Aren Maeir, excavator at Tell es-Safi (Gath), also speaks some sense in an article by Times of Israel. To quote from the article:

Model shrines of the type presented Tuesday have been found at many other sites belonging to other local cultures, and their similarity to Temple architecture as described in the Bible has already been noted, said Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, who leads a dig at the ruins of the nearby Philistine city of Gath. And the existence of lions and birds on the clay model undermine the claim that no figures of people or animals have been found at Qeiyafa, he said.

Aren Maeir in 2002

Aren Maeir

Qeiyafa indeed appears to have been inhabited by Israelites, Maeir said, but the cultural lines among the various peoples of the Land of Israel at that time, he said, were “fuzzier than the way they are often described.”

The new finds do not prove conclusively who residents were or provide dramatic new evidence for any side in the ongoing dispute among biblical archaeologists, he said.

“There’s no question that this is a very important site, but what exactly it was — there is still disagreement about that,” Maeir said.

Finally, here is a nice photo of all three artefacts presented publicly in Jerusalem yesterday.