The Bible could be wrong about the Philistines

The discovery of a Philistine cemetery could change how we use the word 'philistine'.

The Bible could be wrong about the Philistines

Picture by: Tsafrir Abayov / AP/Press Association Images

Archaeologists in Israel believe they have found the first ever Philistine cemetery.

The discovery was made in 2013 but was not revealed until Sunday when the excavation was completed.

The team uncovered the remains of over 200 people near Ashkelon, Israel, which they said date back to between the 11th and 8th centuries B.C.

Archaeologists were surprised to discover items such as perfumed oil and jewellery alongside the skeletons. They said that some bodies were still wearing bracelets and earrings.

Archaeologists excavating an ancient Philistine cemetery near Ashkelon, Israel. Picture by: Tsafrir Abayov / AP/Press Association Images

The discovery of these items could completely change our understanding of the Philistines who are commonly thought of as uncultured.

The Philistines appear in the Bible as archenemies of the Israelite's. Our understanding of this group has been shaped by their portrayal in the Bible. The word is often used to refer to someone who is uncultured or indifferent to the arts but this discovery could completely change that view.

Daniel Master, co-director of the expedition said:

"One of the things that we know from the Hebrew Bible is that the Philistine were looked down upon by the Israelite's. They were thought to be the worst of the worst.

"That's what their enemies said about them but now we get the chance to hear their side of the story."

The most memorable Philistine from the Bible was Goliath, a giant Philistine warrior defeated by David, the future king of Israel.

Up until now there has been very little know about the origins of the Philistines. The discovery of this site may answer many questions that archaeologists and biblical scholars have about these mysterious people.

It has already shed light on Philistine burial culture. The excavation team revealed that the Philistines buried their dead with perfume bottles, placed near the face and jars, most likely filled with wine or food, near the legs.