March 15, 2007

The script of the Philistines

Philistines, but Less and Less Philistine
In recent years, excavations in Israel established that the Philistines had fine pottery, handsome architecture and cosmopolitan tastes. If anything, they were more refined than the shepherds and farmers in the nearby hills, the Israelites, who slandered them in biblical chapter and verse and rendered their name a synonym for boorish, uncultured people.

Archaeologists have now found that not only were Philistines cultured, they were also literate when they arrived, presumably from the region of the Aegean Sea, and settled the coast of ancient Palestine around 1200 B. C.

...

Dr. Cross said in an interview that several signs in the Ashkelon inscriptions “fit in with well-known Cypro-Minoan,” in particular from artifacts recovered at sites in Cyprus and at Ugarit, in Syria. He said the script had some characteristics of Linear A, the writing system used in the Aegean from 1650 B. C. to 1450 B. C. This undeciphered script was supplanted by another, Linear B, which was identified with the Minoan civilization of Crete and was finally decoded in the mid-20th century.

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The two researchers and other scholars said it was not surprising that the Ashkelon inscriptions were in an Aegean type of writing. The biblical Philistines are assumed to have been a group of the mysterious Sea Peoples who probably originated in the Greek islands and migrated to several places on the far eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

2 comments:

andrew said...

"Dr. Cross said in an interview that several signs in the Ashkelon inscriptions “fit in with well-known Cypro-Minoan,” in particular from artifacts recovered at sites in Cyprus and at Ugarit, in Syria. He said the script had some characteristics of Linear A, the writing system used in the Aegean from 1650 B. C. to 1450 B. C. This undeciphered script was supplanted by another, Linear B, which was identified with the Minoan civilization of Crete and was finally decoded in the mid-20th century."

From the linked article.

This is wrong. Linear A is identified with Minoan. Linear B is identified with Mycenaean Greek.

This error in the reporting makes me doubt that the inscriptions are really Linear A and not Linear B. We would expect the Philistines who are Mycenaean Greek in all other respects to be writing in Linear B.

Linear A ceased to be used as a script in the Aegean 250 years before the Philistines arrived in the Southern Levant, and represented a minority language that was by then dying (and was never used by more than a few dozen people closely associated with palace administration).

A Linear A find in a Philistine area would suggest an hierloom piece originally obtained from the Minoans rather than a recent creation.

Daniel Burleigh said...

I was wondering how long before someone would include a derogative, uninformed and irrelevant, slander of the Old Testament and the Israelites/Jews as a whole. The Philistines or Phoenicians were not denounced for their great architecture, (and you can ask Samson about that) or for their fierce sea fearing abilities bringing them unsurprisingly in to contact with refined cultural commodities… but that they were pagans!!! The Church deplores paganism and so does the Koran…. so when the" dust covered illiterate Yid herdsmen" looked upon them with disdain, you foolishly find it pertinent to mention. Great mega cultures have come and gone, mixing gene pools and annihilating others, yet that minute genetic puddle called the Israelites is unmistakably still thriving, unique and separate from all others , most certainly not due to illiteracy and ignorance…. Stick with the genetic findings …. It will make it easier on everyone.