Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


3 November 2013

On the Constitution and Transformation of Philistine Identity

Aren M. Maeir, Louise A. Hitchcock & Liora Kolska Horwitz Oxford Journal of Archaeology 32:1 (February 2013): 1-38.


Recent discussion of the formation and alteration of Philistine identity in the Levantine Iron Age continues to reference primarily pottery styles and dietary practices. Such traditional narratives propose that the Philistines comprised one group of the ‘Sea Peoples’ and that the cultural boundary markers that distinguished their society in the Iron Age I (twelfth–eleventh century BC) diminished in importance and disappeared suddenly in the early Iron Age IIA (tenth century BC), with the ascendancy of the Judahite kingdom. Based on data from the Levant (especially Philistia), the Aegean and Cyprus, we argue for a more complex understanding of the Philistines who came to the region with an identity that drew on, and continued to engage with, a broad range of foreign artefact styles and cultural practices with non-Levantine connections. Concurrently they incorporated local cultural attributes, at least until the late ninth century BC, a feature that we argue was unrelated to the supposed tenth century expansion of the Judahite kingdom.

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