Ashdod was the first large Philistine city to be uncovered by archaeologists. The excavation of the early 1960′s yielded a wealth of evidence about early Canaan and about the ancient Philistines, that bellicose people who smite and are smitten on page after page of the Old Testament, and whose carcasses young David promised to feed “unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”
Many of the objects represented local deities whom the conquering Philistines adopted, as they did their chief god Dagon, whose temple at Gaza the blind Samson later pulled down.
No one knows exactly when the Philistines came to Canaan, but there is good evidence that they might have emigrated from Crete by way of Egypt. Once in Canaan, they took possession of the five coastal cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Gath, probably before 1150 B.C. The first Biblical mention of them occurs in the twenty-first chapter of Genesis, where we learn that Abraham and the Philistine “Abimelech”- the word means “the father is king”- made a covenant of peace.
After their Egyptian bondage and the Exodus to the Promised Land, the children of Israel engaged in continuous warfare with the Philistines, as is recorded in the books of Judges, Samuel, and Chronicles. The Bible’s final statement about the Philistines is found in Zechariah, the next-to-last book of the Old Testament, and it is a bitter curse: “And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.”
(see link at end)… It is accepted that the builder of this temple, Ramesses III, lived at the beginning of the twelfth century BCE, in the last days of greatness of the gyptian New Kingdom. It was determined, therefore, that the Philistines arrived in Israel at around the same time. Scholars are barely troubled by the fact that the Bible describes the Philistines as a nation dwelling in Israel when Abraham the Hebrew arrived there. As in many other cases, when a lack of correspondance is discovered between “external sources” and the Bible, scholars have prefered to place their faith in ancient inscriptions which were discovered outside the borders of Israel.
Nevertheless, the difficulty of non-correspondance with the Bible was only one of a group of problems which came to light following the identification of the Philistines with the Peleset in the distant Egyptian inscriptions.
Archaeological scholarship showed that along with the destruction of the cities of the land of Israel, the end of the Late Bronze Age also saw the destruction of many cities in Lebanon, Syria and Anatolia. In the view of scholars, there was at that time “a tremendous movement of peoples, the likes of which have scarcel
According to the inscriptions in the Egyptian temple, Ramesses III struck the “Sea Peoples” a mortal blow. Scholars have found it difficult to understand how the stricken Philistines were transformed into the rulers of the coastal lowlands of Israel.
A solution to this problem was found in an ancient papyrus, called “Papyrus Harris A”. According to this document, Ramesses settled many captives in fortresses in Egypt, and apportioned food to them. Scholars assume that the Egyptian king settled part of the beaten Philistine army in Egyptian fortresses in Israel. When its empire fell apart not many years after this, the defeated Philistines became the new masters of of the land.
Nevertheless, this solution is not compatible with archaeological finds in Israel. Read More:http://starways.net/lisa/essays/philistines.html