Ancient DNA Solves Age-old Mystery of Philistine Origin

Analysis of skeletons in the Philistine city of Ashkelon answers the elusive question of just where the Israelites’ biblical archenemies came from

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Pit burials in the first Philistine graveyard found in Israel, in ancient Ashkelon, June 28, 2016.
Pit burials in the first Philistine graveyard found in Israel, in ancient Ashkelon, June 28, 2016. Credit: Menahem Kahana, AFP
Ariel David
Ariel David

Science has made a huge leap forward in dispelling the mystery that surrounds the Philistines, the biblical archenemies of the Israelites who suddenly appeared on the coasts of the Levant more than 3,000 years ago.

The origins of this ancient population have eluded scholars for centuries. Now, an analysis of DNA extracted from skeletons unearthed at Ashkelon, on Israel’s southern coast, confirms the theory that the earliest Philistines had at least some European ancestry, most likely from the south of the continent. This supports the long-held theory by some scholars, based on clues from ancient texts and similarities in archaeological finds from the two regions, that the Philistines hailed from the Aegean

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