Excavation of the Philistine Cemetery at Ashkelon.
(photo credit: MELISSA AJA/LEON LEVY EXPEDITION TO ASHKELON)
Could DNA testing prove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s politics? He seems to think so.
On Sunday, Netanyahu tweeted that, “A new study of DNA recovered from an ancient Philistine site in the Israeli city of Ashkelon confirms what we know from the Bible – that the origin of the Philistines is in southern Europe,” quoting research released last week by the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, which revealed that the ancient people most known for their biblical conflict with the Israelites were immigrants to the region in the 12th century BCE.
“For 30 years, we excavated at Ashkelon, uncovering Canaanites, early Philistines and later Philistines – and now we can begin to understand the story that these bones tell,” said Daniel M. Master, director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, who headed the excavations.
The team used state-of-the-art DNA technologies on ancient bone samples unearthed during the excavation from 1985-2016. Analyzing for the first time genome-wide data retrieved from people who lived in Ashkelon during the Bronze and Iron ages (around 3,600 to 2,800 years ago), the team found that a substantial proportion of their ancestry was derived from a European population. This European-derived ancestry was introduced into Ashkelon around the time of the Philistines’ estimated arrival in the 12th century BCE.
“The Bible mentions a place called Caphtor, which is probably modern-day Crete,” Netanyahu continued in a follow up tweet. “There’s no connection between the ancient Philistines & the modern Palestinians
, whose ancestors came from the Arabian Peninsula to the Land of Israel thousands of years later.”
According to the Book of Joshua, the land of the Philistines was in the southwestern Levant comprising the five city-states of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarkon River in the north. It was from this designation that the whole of the country was later called Palestine by the Greeks.
“The Palestinians’ connection to the Land of Israel is nothing compared to the 4,000-year connection that the Jewish people have with the land,” Netanyahu concluded.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>