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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Five foot Philistines

Vilified in biblical texts and even ridiculed by Iggy Pop, the Iron Age pagan seafarers known as the Philistines were basically the East Mediterranean version of the Vikings, except apparently much smaller:

Relatively short average heights for people buried at Ashkelon — about 5 feet, 1 inch for men and 4 feet, 10 inches for women — also fit a scenario of biological stress, Fox said. Short stature and minimal height differences between men and women occur with population-wide stresses such as malnutrition, she said.


The Philistines were a famously combative crowd. Archaeologist Eric Meyers of Duke University, who was not a member of the Ashkelon team, wondered if at least some of those buried at Ashkelon had been killed in battles or fights. But no head injuries or other skeletal signs of violent encounters appeared among the dead at Ashkelon, Fox said. Neither did any skeletons contain evidence of tumors or cancers.

If DNA can be extracted from the Ashkelon skeletons, scientists may get a glimpse of where the Philistines originally came from. Evolutionary geneticist Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, is currently directing efforts to retrieve genetic sequences from the Ashkelon bones.

Source: Ancient cemetery provides peek into Philistines’ lives, health, ScienceNews, November 22, 2016

See also...

American Schools of Oriental Research 2016 paper abstracts (PDF link)


AWood said...

That certainly puts a damper on the Anakim and Nephilim.

mickeydodds1 said...

Perhaps Goliath wasn't so big after all.

Antoni Małkowski said...

Będzie to zaskoczenie kiedy okaże się że Żydzi mają Filistynów we krwi..

AWood said...

David must have been Warwick Davis.

MaxT said...

Any predictions about their Y-DNA and MtDNA?

Fanty said...

"David must have been Warwick Davis."

The story paints David inferior enough, even if Goliath was no 3 meter giant.

David is suposed to be a teenager and a herder. Armed with a stick and a sling. Goliath is suposed to be the best fighter of the Philistian army, wearing armour and wielding weapons of iron (against the bronze weapons of the Israelites).

Even making him smaller, makes him still apear invincible against a herder boy.

Jim said...

The Sea Peoples episode was part of the larger Bronze Age Collapse, a regional series of destructive uprisings against what amounted to temple-oriented slave states. It would be no surprise to find skeletons showing signs of malnutrition or periodic starvation. It would be a surprise to find it in skeletons from the successor states such as the Philistine cities.

Simon_W said...

I wonder if there is a connection between the Philistines, aka Peleset in Egyptian sources, and the Phelessaioi the Greek geographer Eudoxus located in middle Adriatic Italy. There is also a similarity between the names Ashkelon and Asculum (now Ascoli Piceno).

In any case, good that Krause is taking care of them.

Gioiello said...

@ Simon_W

"I wonder if there is a connection between the Philistines, aka Peleset in Egyptian sources, and the Phelessaioi the Greek geographer Eudoxus located in middle Adriatic Italy. There is also a similarity between the names Ashkelon and Asculum (now Ascoli Piceno).
In any case, good that Krause is taking care of them."

Don't say that also the Philishtim, beyond Sherden, Twrsha and Shekelesh, were from Italy, and that a scripture from Creta is explaining with Italic languages... or you risk to be banned... from Anthrogenica.

FrankN said...

Alberto, Rob e.a.: I have posted some more material on LeylaTepe backwards and Maykop forward linkages under the Iran-IE post. I think it is a fairly interesting discussion, which should continue there instead of cluttering up newer posts.

As I am anyway going OT here, let me dump a few interesting articles that came in over the last weeks:

1. We have had dogs, cattle, sheep etc., now finally a bit of cat aDNA:

2. "Druze biogeographic affinity, migration patterns, time of emergence and genetic similarity to Near Eastern populations are highly suggestive of Armenian-Turkish ancestries for the proto-Druze."

3. Selective sweep on human amylase genes postdates the split with Neanderthals: "It is likely that this selective sweep that fixed multiple copies of AMY1 gene in modern human lineages was associated with a dietary shift and an elaboration of the processing sequences for starch-rich tubers, incorporating, for example, grinding, leaching and cooking."

4. A time transect of exomes from a Native American population before and after European contact: "We model the population collapse after European contact, inferring a 57% reduction in effective population size. We also identify signatures of positive selection on immune-related genes in the ancient but not the modern group, with the strongest signal deriving from the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) gene HLA-DQA1. The modern individuals show a marked frequency decrease in the same alleles, likely due to the environmental change associated with European colonization, whereby negative selection may have acted on the same gene after contact. The evident shift in selection pressures correlates to the regional European-borne epidemics of the 1800s."
Lots of fresh Amerindian aDNA, off the coast of British Columbia, ranging in age from ∼6,260 to 1,036  cal BP. Those bits of Han-like and European ancestry ADMIXTURE shows for some of the "ancients", which acc. to Treemix are unlikely to have originated from Paleo-Eskimos (Sappaq), might deserve follow up (largest Treemix error for "ancients" against Finns). Unfortunately, Kennewick wasn't included in the analysis.

Alexandros said...

Accumulating evidence suggests that Philistines were closely related to Iron Age Cypriots, at least culturally.

For example check below

Davidski said...

That was my impression for a while, hence my musings here about the early Jews in the Levant being similar to Cretans.

Simon_W said...

@ Gioiello

I would rather consider the opposite, i.e. that the Phelessaioi in Italy were from the Levant. Archaeologically you do find evidence of cultural influence from the Syrian, Cypriot and Phoenician/Oriental area in early Iron Age middle Adriatic Italy. This would also be in line with the fact that the MDLP K23b Near Eastern component in mainland Italy is strongest in the Italian_Abruzzo sample, not in the South_Italian sample. (I know that Abruzzo is technically and culturally south Italian, but it doesn't look south Italian on the map.)

Gioiello said...

@ Simon_W

And where would be traces of Middle Easterner languages in Italy? All what we know belongs to Italic languages or anyway Illyric-like as the Apulia languages, but it isn't said that they came from Balkans, not having in Italy, for instance, any trace of the R-L23 "Balkan cluster", but we have instead proofs of samples upstream the "Balkan cluster" I spoke a lot about.
Abruzzo is a very conservative zone, with also Q-M25 old more that 13000 years, and, if the father of the adopted Brian Wallace was from Abruzzo as I think, also J1* old more than 15000 years is there, so I said that I expect that the oldest J1* will be found in the aDNA from Italy, older that Satsurblia.
MIddel East had clearly a migration of Villabrunas and also the mt H32 found there and in Iran is very likely from Italy.
Let's wait the aDNA.. have you understood why the BB is delayed? Because the authors are trying to deny with the autosome what I think is clear with the uniparental data.

FrankN said...

@Gioiello: "And where would be traces of Middle Easterner languages in Italy?
Tyrolean (N+S) toponymic research has done a pretty good job in dissecting toponymic layers. The oldest, Pre-IE layer includes a/o the root -anders, present a/o in "Schlanders" and "Villanders", but also Salandra (Basilicata), and the Maiandros in Phrygia. Another Pre-IE root is -iks", e.g. in Adige (<* Atiks).
Knowing what to look for, you are probably better able to answer the "Where" than I am...
Another well documented connection is of course Tyre, Taurus Mts., Tirana, Tyrrhenian Sea, Tauern Mts. (Alps), Taurini (Torino), etc.

Simon_W said...

@ Gioiello

Since no other source apart from Eudoxus mentioned the Phelessaioi (they were hardly identical with the Picentes, as the names are too different), it can be surmised that they were assimilated quickly. On the other hand, it's not self-evident that they originally spoke a Semitic language, if they were part of the Sea Peoples and had connections to Cyprus. Eteocypriot is not evidently a Semitic language. Maybe even the enigmatic North Picene inscriptions might be related with these eastern influences. At least I know that the necropolis of Novilara-Servici showed contacts with the eastern Mediterranean.

Gioiello said...

@ FranKN

Of course to base a theory upon toponyms is difficult and dangerous. Many spoke of "Mediterranean" substrates. Your toponyms seem to me heterogenous. About Salandra this is written on Dizionario di toponomastica, UTET: "L'origine del nome è incerta e, secondo Alessio 1962a, 86, richiede una base preromana idronimica *salandra con la quale può essere connessa la voce dialettale (a Venosa) cialàndra 'luogo dove si buttano le immondizie'. Battisti 1959 riconduce il toponimo alla base *sala 'canale'". Thus only many asterisks.

Gioiello said...

@ Simon_W

I know a tentative of a Dutch linguist to understand the "Stele di Novilara" as and old form of Celtic (and that could be intersting from what I am saying from so long that Celts from Italy migrated to Iberia and after Northward along the Atlantic). But all that demonstrates one only thing, that, as also Mallory&Adams said, Italy has the most varied presence of old languages.

Simon_W said...

@ Gioiello
There are various attempts of interpreting these texts, not all convincing. Someone else claimed that it was an old form of Greek. There is no consensus. Some even claimed the long text was a forgery. Yet, the Near Eastern influence in archaeological objects is undeniable. However, this doesn't prove anything beyond trade contacts, but still, it's something.

Gioiello said...

@ Simon_W

I agree with you of course.