Scholars say Philistine genes help solve biblical mystery

International

File – This Tuesday, June 28, 2016 file photo shows an archeologist taking notes at an ancient Phillstine cemetery near Ashkelon, Israel. Human remains from an ancient Philistine cemetery have yielded precious bits of DNA that researchers say helps prove the European origin of the enigmatic nemeses of the Biblical Israelites. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Human remains from an ancient Philistine cemetery have yielded precious bits of DNA that researchers say help prove the European origin of the enigmatic nemeses of the biblical Israelites.

Archaeologists have long proposed the Philistines migrated to the coast of the ancient Near East during a period of upheaval at the end of the Late Bronze Age, around 1200 B.C., but little concrete evidence to support that theory has turned up until now.

The Philistines emerged as other societies around the eastern Mediterranean collapsed, possibly because of a cataclysmic intersection of climate change and man-made disasters. Philistine ceramics bear similarities to styles found in the Aegean, but concrete evidence of their geographic origins has remained elusive.

Now, a study of genetic material extracted from skeletons unearthed in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon in 2013 has found a DNA link. It connects the Philistines to populations in southern Europe during the Bronze Age.

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