Time has not been kind to the Philistines. Thanks to sketchy references in the Bible, they're remembered, if at all, as a warlike race of uncouth barbarians notable mainly for producing such villains as Delilah and Goliath. As the archaeologist authors of the fascinating work at hand make clear, however, folkloric perceptions of the Philistines fall well short of gospel truth. Having spent over 30 years investigating one of biblical history's greatest mysteries--the identity of the invaders whose protracted conflict with Israelites made their very name synonymous with brutishness--the Dothans are able to provide a partial portrait of these so-called ``People of the Sea.'' While much remains to be learned of their language and origins, the Philistines were almost certainly part of an exodus from the Aegean Basin during the political/population upheavals that marked the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age. Defeated in battle by Egypt's Ramses III early in the 12th century B.C., the Philistines were settled along the southern coast of Canaan, claiming as their homeland an area extending from Gaza to modern Tel Aviv. On the evidence of the material unearthed at excavation sites throughout the region, the authors conclude that Philistines brought with them an advanced culture that was strikingly enriched by contacts with city-states in every corner of the ancient Mediterranean world. The Dothans have played prominent roles in recent discoveries about the Philistines, and, accordingly, they are remarkably well qualified to combine low-key accounts of their own contributions with those of other scholars (past as well as present) to shed considerable light on a classically lost civilization whose realities have proved greatly at odds with its latter-day image. Authoritative, accessible, absorbing. (Photos, maps, 16-page color insert--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
The authors, both archaeologists and historians at universities in Israel, have devoted 30 years to studying the material culture and history of the Philistines, one of the sea people who migrated during the Late Bronze Age and were first known from biblical accounts. The Dothans tell the story of the gradual amassing of evidence from Egyptian monuments and texts, the widely dispersed archaeological finds by various scholars, and their own and other Israelis' fieldwork during World War II. They then take turns describing their excavations at Ashod, one of five Philistine capitals along the coast of Canaan; in Cyprus; in the Gaza strip; and in another Philistine capital city. Through their narratives and descriptions of finds, including the distinctive bi-chrome ware, iron, bronze, and ivory artifacts, and artificial remains, the Dothans reconstruct the life of a people whom the Bible perceived as barbarous, yet whom they have found to be sophisticated city planners with advanced technology who profoundly affected the cultures around them in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age. Written in a direct, engaging style, this is for lay readers as well as scholars.
- Joan W. Gartland, Detroit P.L.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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