Philistia and the Philistines in the Iron Age I: Interaction, Ethnic Dynamics and Boundary Maintenance
Until recently, the scholarly consensus held that the Philistines, whatever their origins were, assimilated into the local Levantine cultures in the early Iron Age II. Following Stone (1995), however, it is clear today that the while Philistine culture changed and the settlers ceased to use most of their unique, foreign traits in the Iron II, the Philistines still maintained their unique identity, and did not assimilate. In 2011 we drew attention to the fact that the decline in the use of these “unique” traits was not gradual, as one might expect from a slow process of culture change. Instead, the Philistines increased their usage of some of their most distinct traits during the first 150-200 years of their settlement, before abandoning many of their significant traits in the Iron Age II. We explained this “increased” usage of foreign traits (and to a more limited extent also its subsequent “decline”) as part of the Philistines’ interaction with their neighbors. Maeir et al. (2013) have recently attempted to refute our arguments and conclusions. While we are happy that the Philistines are again at the center of scholarly discussion, it is unfortunate that their article suffers from some major drawbacks, in terms of both theory and data. In light of the recent discussion, this article will revisit the processes that followed the Philistine settlement in Canaan, and especially the nature of their interaction with their neighbors.