Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Philistine domestic architecture in the Iron Age I
by Aja, Adam Jonathan, Ph.D., Harvard University, 2009, 543; 3385567
Abstract (Summary)

Material reminiscent of an Aegean-style culture, which was distinct from that of the indigenous population, appeared in southern Canaan some time near the beginning of the 12th century B.C.E. Scholars have long associated this material with the arrival of a group of newcomers, the Philistines, the famous antagonists of the biblical Israelites. Limited excavation and publication of Philistine settlements have largely restricted previous studies to the more readily available portable artifacts, such as pottery. While such studies have advanced our understanding of Philistine culture tremendously, le mobilier are vulnerable to post-depositional disturbances and other issues that potentially remove them from the proper context of those people who presumably created and used them. Unlike portable elements of material culture, archaeological strata and built architectural features cannot be traded, thus they reflect the activity of people at the site. The current research shifts the emphasis away from that of previous Philistine studies, from an examination of portable items to fixed domestic structures, thereby helping to augment our understanding of the composition and culture of the people living in the territories of Philistia.

A house model, which is based upon an assessment of the unpublished excavation records of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, is compared here with evidence from the rest of the Philistine Pentapolis settlements to determine common building patterns. These elements, principally the use of axial pillars, multi-purpose vestibules, constructed hearths, and a linear arrangement of room access, are then sought in the regions of the Eastern Mediterranean in order to identify the potential source of the building tradition. The results strongly support previous scholarly assertions that the Philistines likely originated from settlements on the Greek mainland, though some may have landed for a time in parts of Cyprus before settling in the land of Southern Canaan. These settlers carried notions of Aegean building traditions with them to their new settlements and built according to the practices of their homeland. While there is strong evidence for cultural contact, there is little support for any assertion that the indigenous populations controlled or built the structures of Philistia proper. Finally, the domestic architecture is used to suggest details regarding Philistine household structure.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stager, Lawrence E.
School: Harvard University
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: DAI-A 70/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Near Eastern Studies, Ancient history
Keywords: Architecture, Ashkelon, Domestic, Domestic architecture, Iron Age, Philistine
Publication Number: 3385567
ISBN: 978-1-109-49479-2
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