Ancient DNA sheds light on the origins of the Biblical Philistines
The Biblical Philistines were descendants of people who migrated across the Mediterranean and reached the shores of the southern Levant at the beginning of the Iron Age.
An international team, led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, retrieved and analysed, for the first time, genome-wide data from 10 Bronze and Iron Age individuals (~3,600-2,800 years old) excavated by the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon. By testing individuals from various eras at Ashkelon, one of the core Philistine cities during the Iron Age, the team found that a European derived ancestry was introduced in Ashkelon around the time of the Philistines’ estimated arrival, suggesting that ancestors of the Philistines migrated across the Mediterranean, reaching Ashkelon in the early Iron Age. This European related component seems to have been diluted by the local Levantine gene pool over the succeeding centuries. These genetic results, published in Science Advances, are a critical step toward understanding the long-disputed origins of the Biblical Philistines.