Burial site of hundreds of Israelites’ mysterious enemies could yield clues to population’s origins
©Tsafrir Abayov, Leon Levy Expedition
SAN ANTONIO — A roughly 3,000-year-old cemetery on Israel’s coast is providing an unprecedented look at burial practices of the Philistines, a mysterious population known from the Old Testament for having battled the Israelites.
Work at the Ashkelon cemetery from 2013 to 2016 has uncovered remains of at least 227 individuals, ranging from infants to older adults. Only a small section of the cemetery has been explored. Archaeologist and excavation director Adam Aja of the Harvard Semitic Museum estimates that approximately 1,200 people were interred there over a span of about 100 years.
“For the first time, we have found a formal Philistine cemetery,” Aja said November 18 at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research. Aja and his colleagues first announced having found the Philistine graveyard on July 10. He was among several