Putting in a Good Word for the Philistines

Just checking in from Loscon, where I organized the program. Serendipity plays a considerable role in this job — when I looked at the Aussiecon 4 schedule I saw they had a presentation from someone who had done archeological work on the Philistines and the subject intrigued me enought to try and figure out how to make it into a panel, though I never got very far trying to brainstorm that idea. Then, lo and behold, Dr. Hitchcock herself contacted me to say she was going to be in LA at Thanksgiving. Great! So we’ll have her Aussiecon presentation here Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in the – Houston room (at the LAX Marriott):

In the Wake of the Sea People, in the Footsteps of Goliath: The Bar-Ilan and University of Melbourne Excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath

Dr. Hitchcock writes: “To be a ‘Philistine’ has entered our language to mean uncouth or barbaric, a perception deeply situated in Biblical thought. Just as the Greeks described non-Greek neighbors as ‘Barbarians,’ so too did the Biblical writers describe people settled along the southern coast of the Levant in derogatory terms. My presentation will discuss the Aegean and Cypriot origin of the Philistines, who were reputed to be among the Sea People wreaking havoc in the Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age (ca. 1180 BC). I will present recent results from the archaeological excavations at the Philistine site at Tell es-Safi/Gath (Israel), the city associated with Goliath in the Bible.  The archaeological remains of the Philistines reveal them to be a socially and economically advanced, technologically innovative (iron production), artistically sophisticated (decorated Mycenaean-Greek style pottery), and cosmopolitan culture that positively influenced the surrounding region.”

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3 thoughts on “Putting in a Good Word for the Philistines

  1. I had the impression from my readings that the evidence for the Philistines’ lack of culture and breeding was that they didn’t believe in The One True System of Everything that the ancient Hebrews did. Today they would be called “goyim.”

  2. Philistine has entered the language with this meaning, regardless of how cultured they may or may not have been.

    I suspect that many people think all Samaritans are good, even though this actually undercuts the whole point of the Bible story.

  3. I’ve never understood the transition from “the people against whom King David fought” to “uncouth & uncivilized”… obviously somewhere in there is the assumption that the *other* is uncouth & uncivilized. I actually have a harder time with folks referring to Israel as Palestine, since Palestina is the Romanization of “Philistia” and applied after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. – the other use of Philistine just doesn’t make sense to me. Obviously too literal!

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