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The Philistines

The Philistines have a three-millennia-old reputation for being a society of warlike pagans, devoid of aesthetic or intellectual values. What does the archaeological evidence say? BAS editors have arranged a special collection of articles on the Philistines exploring their origins, cities, Biblical ailments and even their status as modern fashion icons.

Scroll down to read a summary of these articles.


What We Know About the Philistines

BAR, Jul/Aug 1982, 20-44.
By Trude Dothan

When Canaanites and Philistines Ruled Ashkelon

BAR, Mar/Apr 1991, 24-29, 31, 35-37, 40-42.
By Lawrence E. Stager

One if by Sea...Two if by Land: How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan?: How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan? One: by Sea

BAR, Mar/Apr 2003, 26-33, 64, 66.
By Tristan Barako

One if by Sea...Two if by Land: How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan?: How Did the Philistines Get to Canaan? Two: by Land

BAR, Mar/Apr 2003, 34-39, 66-67.
By Assaf Yassar-Landau

Excavating Ekron

BAR, Nov/Dec 2005, 40-56, 66-67.
By Seymour Gitin

The Philistines and the Dothans: An Archaeological Romance, Part 2

BAR, Sep/Oct 1993, 40-53, 88.
By Hershel Shanks

Excavating Philistine Gath: Have We Found Goliath’s Hometown?

BAR, Nov/Dec 2001, 22-27, 29-31.
By Carl S. Ehrlich, Aren M. Maeir

Did Captured Ark Afflict Philistines with E.D.?

BAR, May/June 2008, 46-51.
By Aren M. Maeir

Philistine Fashion

BAR, Nov/Dec 2003, 46-49.
By Trude Dothan


In the 1982 exposé “What We Know About the Philistines,” Trude Dothan reveals a stunning artistic repertoire that made the Philistine material culture shine above that of its Canaanite peers. The timeless study includes the discussions “Philistines in the Patriarchal Age,” “Did the Philistines Write?” and “Philistines after David.”

In “When Canaanites and Philistines Ruled Ashkelon,” Lawrence E. Stager marshals an impressive array of evidence from the 5,500-year-old city—ranging from lowly loomweights to Homeric epics—to answer the longstanding question of where the Sea Peoples came from. The answer belies the dictionary definition of “philistine.”

How did the Sea Peoples migrate from their Aegean homeland to the Eastern Mediterranean? In the lively discussion “How did the Philistines get to Canaan?” Tristan Barako presents “One: by Sea” while Assaf Yasur-Landau counters with “Two: by Land.”

What happened to the Philistines after the rise of the Israelites—Did they disappear after 1000 B.C.? In “Excavating Ekron,” Seymour Gitin disagrees with this widely held view, stating that the major Philistine city survived by absorbing other cultures.

Husband and wife Moshe and Trude Dothan worked so extensively with Philistine sites that BAR labeled them “Mr. and Mrs. Philistine.” In the second part of “The Philistines and the Dothans: An Archaeological Romance,” the couple describes the sites, legacy, history and chronology of the Philistines and Sea Peoples.

Archaeologists have long known the location of four of the five cities of the Philistine Pentapolis, but Gath, the home of Goliath, had eluded identification until recently. In “Excavating Philistine Gath,” Aren M. Maeir and Carl S. Ehrlich identify the site of Tell es-Safi as ancient Gath.

What was the embarrassing ailment that caused The Philistines to return the Ark of the Covenant to the Israelites? For centuries, the painful affliction has been translated as “hemorrhoids,” but Aren M. Maeir argues that the Philistines were protecting their manhood in “Did Captured Ark Afflict Philistines with E.D.?”

This Philistines were not just enemies of the Israelites; they are also unwitting icons of style. In “Philistine Fashion,” Trude Dothan takes a look at two beautifully crafted objects that proved to be an unusual designer accessory.