Digging the Philistines

Where did those aliens originate? I don’t mean space aliens, I mean the Philistines. Fandom’s Louise Hitchcock, who spoke about archaeology and the Philistines at the 2010 Loscon, was recently asked by Bible History Daily “Where Did the Philistines Come From?”

The fact that the Tell es-Safi/Gath horned altar has only two horns may have to do with the cultural origins of the Philistines. As Louise Hitchcock, senior staff member of the Tell es-Safi/Gath excavations, has suggested, the very motif of the horned altar in the Levant may have been influenced by earlier Minoan “horns of consecration,” symbolic representations of the horns of the sacred bull in Minoan culture. In fact, there is an altar from the Late Bronze Age site of Myrtous Pigadhes in Cyprus that also has only two horns. The unique horned altar from Tell es-Safi/Gath, the earliest stone altar ever found from the land of the Philistines, may be another indication of the Aegean influences on early Philistine culture and quite possibly a hint to their origins.

Dr. Hitchcock is on the faculty of the University of Melbourne.

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2 thoughts on “Digging the Philistines

  1. I haven’t researched the matter, but from a few attempts to find out for myself who the Philistines were I gather that there is no clear answer. Most historians seem to think they were a hybrid society composed of Caananites , Greeks, “sea peoples” (who may or may not be Minoans) and other Asian stock. Whether or not they were ancestral to the Phoenians I don’t have any clear picture. The issues are complicated by different interpretations and competing cultural traditions. Maybe I ought to have reread all the relevant Wikipedia articles again, before adding my two cents worth. It seems like an odd thing to discuss in a science fiction blog, but I guess the connection is Louise Hitchcock. Fair enough. If I was the sole English-speaking survivor of a ship overturned in a Japanese tsunami and subsequent disaster at a nuclear power plant, I think it would be newsworthy enough for F770. Come to think of it… wasn’t there such a story last year?

  2. @Taral: And if that person had been a speaker at the 2010 Loscon too, who knows what unlimited run I might have given the story.

    As it is, how often can I find a fannish reason to cover Biblical archeology, a great interest of mine.

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