Biblical Philistines Origins Revealed By DNA

People have always contested the past existence of historical figures from the Bible. Fed to us through a hundred-year old book that spoke of an almighty God that can do anything, it’s not surprising if cynics would view them as fiction, nothing more, nothing less. Sure, Noah existed, but only in the Old Testament.

However, thanks to some hard-won genetic clues, it seems like some of mystery surrounding the Philistines, people best known from the Bible’s Old Testament, have been uncovered.

Real life clues for biblical people

The genetic clues were extracted from the remains of 10 individuals buried at Ashkelon, which is an ancient Philistine port city located in Israel. According to archaeogeneticist Michal Feldman and her colleagues, the extracted DNA displays molecular  links to ancient and modern populations in the eastern Mediterranean. This European genetic signature was carried by Ashkelon residents some 3,400 to 3,150 years ago. However, it gradually disappeared as time passed by and the mating increased with the locals.

As per the genetic evidence the team was able to gather from Ashkelon, the collapsing Bronze age societies pushed seafaring populations from southern Europe some 3,000 years ago. After traveling for some time, these ancient people then settled along the eastern Mediterranean coast. This is where they lived for years, eventually being named the Philistines. However, this is still all speculation.

According to Feldman, who’s from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, a much larger ancient DNA study and analysis may give them a better idea of who the Philistines were as a people, and where their precise origins were.

Ancient DNA

DNA doesn’t last forever, and it usually preserves very poorly in hot, dry regions. Thankfully, the researchers were able to retrieve DNA from 10 skeletons. Three of these were Late Bronze Age individuals buried at the port city some 3,600 years ago, while four were early Iron Age infants buried beneath Ashkelon houses some 3,400 and 3,150 years ago. The last remaining three skeletons are buried in a large cemetery behind the city wall of Ashkelon around 3,100 years ago.

skeleton What happens when a human body decays? Photo Courtesy of Pixabay