Now that we’ve had a few tongue-in-cheek posts, I thought I should also mention things that relate to the more research-oriented parts of the project (have to at least appear to be serious at times…).
On Monday, I gave a talk in the departmental seminar of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, which was entitled:
“An Entangled View of “Simplified” Philistines: A reassessment of the formation and development of the Philistine culture”
In this talk, I spoke about how excavations in Philistia, and in particular at Tell es-Safi/Gath, in the last decade and a half, have provided new data, perspectives, and understandings, on the appearance, formation and transformation of the Philistine culture, and how this culture was influenced by, and influenced, neighboring Iron Age cultures. In the talk I stressed that many of the accepted paradigms about the Philistines and their culture, which were accepted almost without question for many years, are now in the need of reassessment, particularly regarding the multiple and mixed origins of the Philistines (from multiple non-Levantine and Levantine sources), the interaction with their surroundings during all stages of the Iron Age, when and if did the Philistines “lose” their uniqueness (they did not!), and can one neatly and clearly define the borders between the Philistine, “Israelite” and now often noted “Canaanite” zones in the Coastal Plain, Shephelah and the Central Hills.
In addition, I stressed the need to deal with issues of cultural identity using up-to-date perspectives in social theory, and not to fall back on theoretical definitions of ethnicity in the archaeological record – though commonly used (such as Barth, Jones and Emberling) – that do not necessarily reflect much of the more-recent theory, and practice, on these topics.
These issues are particularly important since some scholars are still relating to the Philistines and their culture, and the relations with other groups in the region, without taking into account the more recent finds – and up-to-date social theory.
Much of what was discussed in this talk is covered in two articles which I have published with co-authors:
1) Maeir, A. M., Hitchcock, L. A., and Horwitz, L. K. 2013. On the Constitution and Transformation of Philistine Identity. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 32(1): 1–38. (which was mentioned already here).
2) Hitchcock, L. A., and Maeir, A. M. In press. Beyond Creolization and Hybridity: Entangled and Transcultural Identities in Philistia. Archaeological Review from Cambridge. (which should appear in a month or two).