From regional power to peaceful neighbour: Philistia in the Iron I-II transition

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This paper examines the changes in settlement patterns, internal trade relations and material culture that occurred in Philistia and the Shephelah during the Iron I-II transition. It appears that the Philistines were hegemonic during the Iron Age I. They lived in large fortified settlements, accompanied by smaller settlements in the coastal areas. The Shephelah was only sparsely settled at the time, probably as a result of Philistine policy. Since it was to their advantage to maintain high boundaries with their neighbours, the Philistines increased their use of'foreign' elements in their material culture. The Philistines were significantly weakened during the transition to the Iron Age IIA, with many sites becoming significantly smaller and others abandoned. As the Philistines withdrew westward, the Shephelah was gradually filled with new IsraeliteJudahite settlements. In tandem with their weakening, the Philistines changed their boundary maintenance strategy, and in a quick process of cultural change, abandoned many of the foreign traits that previously characterised them. Instead, they adopted a local material vocabulary, symbolising that they had become 'one of the neighbours'. The city of Gath is an exception: Philistine identity was negotiated there differently than in other sites in Philistia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-204
Number of pages31
JournalIsrael Exploration Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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