Philistines had good taste

FAR FROM being the uncivilised brutes of history who did not care about culture, the Philistines had a taste for fine wines, delicate oils and decorative crockery.

After 2,000 years of suffering a bad press, new research suggests the Philistines were actually keen tradesmen with a deep fascination - and appetite - for the good things in life.

Marine scientists and archaeologists working off the coast of ancient Philistia - the present-day Gaza Strip - have found the sunken wrecks of two ships loaded with goods from Phoenicia, a trading nation operating from what is nowLebanon, which has confirmed there must have been extensive trade with the Philistines.

Lawrence Stager, an archaeologist at Harvard University, believes the discovery of the ships, dated at 750BC, re-inforces the findings from other excavations of the ancient cities of Philistia, showing that the Philistines were importing only the best goods.

He said that rather than merely skirmishing with their neighbours as the Bible portrays them, the Philistines put as much energy into producing expensive goods - such as olive oil - that made them a cultural oasis in the region. "The Philistines have been defined mostly by their enemies," Professor Stager said.

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