This monochrome strainer-spout jug helped author Ephraim Stern distinguish between the pottery of the southern Philistines and the northern Sea Peoples. This jug is from the northern Sea Peoples’ site of Dor. Although it is decorated with motifs similar to Philistine bichrome pottery, this jug is painted in only one color—red. Monochrome pottery, Stern discovered, differentiates northern from southern Sea Peoples’ vessels.
The Bible portrays the Philistines as Israel’s cruel and ruthless enemy. The two peoples engaged in a fierce struggle for control of the land in the 12th–11th centuries B.C.E. We all know the stories of Samson’s struggles against the Philistines (Judges 14–16), David’s victory over the Philistine giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and the tragic death of King Saul and his son Jonathan in a battle with the Philistines at Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).
The Philistines were only one of several tribes known as the Sea Peoples, however, who invaded the Land of Israel during the 12th century B.C.E. It has recently become clear that these Sea Peoples conquered not only parts of the Land of Israel but virtually the entire eastern Mediterranean coastal region, including northern Syria and southern Anatolia. Their attempt to conquer Egypt failed.
The Philistines, who established five prosperous cities—the Pentapolis—on the southern coast of the Land of Israel, were just one tribe of Sea Peoples.
In the Land of Israel the Philistines established five large and prosperous cities, all located in the southern coastal plain: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath and Ekron. These cities are often referred to as the Philistine Pentapolis. They have all been extensively excavated, except Gaza because its tell is covered by modern buildings. These excavations, together with others nearby, reveal a material culture that is both rich and unique, reflecting its origins in Greece and Cyprus.
The Philistines lived in the Land...