10 Amazing Archaeological Revelations About The Philistines

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10 Amazing Archaeological Revelations About The Philistines



To most, the Philistines were nothing more than characters in Bible stories. They were the army that sent Goliath to fight David, the nation that dominated Israel during the time of Samson, and not much more than that. They are, to most of us, nothing more than a religious story, accepted or rejected on faith.

Recently, though, archaeologists have started unearthing little pieces of their lives. The Philistines, we’ve learned, were real people—and they played a much bigger role in history than we could have realized.

10They Were The ‘Sea Peoples’ Who Terrorized Egypt

Sea People Depiction

Photo credit: Olaf Tausch

In the 12th century BC, Egypt was terrorized by an army known only as the “Sea Peoples.” They were an unknown group from an unknown land, raiding the coasts of the Mediterranean on massive warships.

Egypt was powerless against this unknown army at their shores. This was a time when Egypt was at the height of its power, but they had no idea how to hold off the Sea Peoples. “They came boldly sailing in their warships from the midst of the sea,” Ramses II wrote, “none being able to withstand them.”

It’s one of the greatest mysteries in history, and there’s still a lot we don’t know about these people. Thanks to records left in the tombs of the pharaohs, though, we do know a few things. The Sea Peoples were made up of multiple tribes, one of which were called the “Peleset”—an Egyptian word that most agree means “Philistines.”

The Philistines, then, were more than just bullies picking on Israel. There were world-conquerors from another land, and they dominated the entire Mediterranean.


9They Had Superior Technology

Sea People Tech

Photo credit: Faucher-Gudin, Beato

We actually know what the Philistines looked like. The Egyptians carved images of them, along with the other Sea Peoples, in their temples, and it’s easy to pick out the Philistines. They wore tall, feathered headdresses, and they definitely stand out.

They also had technologies the Egyptians had never seen. The Sea Peoples’ ships were beyond anything the Egyptians had ever encountered, and they were early pioneers in archery and iron.

The equipment they brought with them altered the development of the world. They came from a place that had built its equipment separately from the Egyptians and the Canaanites, and they brought their technology into the area. When those technologies mingled, it led to some major breakthroughs.

8They May Have Been Greek

Philistine Pottery

Photo credit: Peter Haygo-Kovacs via Haaretz

Nobody knows for sure where the Philistines came from. We know that they showed up, seemingly out of thin air, in the 12th century and that they were incredibly powerful and well-equipped. Our best guess is that they came from Greece, specifically Mycenae. Archaeologists have found Philistine artwork, and in the words of one archaeologist, it gives “overwhelming evidence” that they came from Mycenae.

A lot of their pottery has survived, and it’s very different from what their neighbors in Canaan made. Instead, it seems to be drawn from Mycenaen traditions, suggesting that they developed their culture in Greece. That Greek influence is especially present in their oldest artifact. As the Philistines stayed in Canaan, their art changed and became more like their neighbors’.

Not everyone is convinced that the Philistines were Greek, but we’ll know for sure soon enough. Historians are running DNA tests on Philistine skeletons discovered in Ashkelon, and the results will reveal the truth.


7They Helped Egypt Conquer The Middle East

Merneptah Stele

Photo credit: Webscribe

One of the most famous Egyptian artifacts is called the Merneptah Stele. It’s famous because it’s one of the few artifacts that mention Israel by name—but it tells far more than that.

Pharaoh Merneptah had the mention inscribed to boast that he had conquered the Middle East. “Canaan has been plundered into every sort of woe,” he declares. “Israel is laid waste.” All of his neighbors, he boasts, are now under Egyptian rule. Under his sword, Merneptah claims, all lands are united and pacified.

It’s a huge moment in Egyptian history, but according to historian Eric Cline, Merneptah is probably just taking credit for the work of the Philistines and the Sea Peoples. In the year the stele was engraved, the Sea Peoples werewreaking havoc in the Middle East. They slaughtered thousands of people in every one of the countries Merneptah claims to have pacified.

Egypt could handle the Philistines’ raids a little better than their neighbors. All they had to do was march into the lands that the Sea Peoples had destroyed and claim the smoldering remains.

6They Helped Israel Take Canaan

Egypt wasn’t the only country that took advantage of the devastation wrought by the Sea Peoples. At the same time, Israel went to war with Canaan. This was, in the Bible, the moment that the Israelites reach the Promised Land.

According to Cline’s theory, the Israelites might just owe that victory to the Philistines. Cline believes that the Israelites arrived in Canaan shortly after Merneptah conquered it. The Israelites would have still been recovering from the raids of the Sea Peoples and the pillaging of the Egyptians—and those raids wouldn’t have stopped.

After Merneptah’s victory, the Sea Peoples continued their attacks. They were too much for Egypt to handle, and shortly after conquering Canaan, they lost control of it. The Israelites would have arrived shortly after Canaan lost Egyptian protection and at a time when they, too, were at their weakest.

If Cline is right, the Israelites owe one of their greatest victories to the nation that would become their greatest enemy.

5They Brought Opium To Israel

The Philistines brought more than just weapons with them; they brought plants, too. There are at least 70 plant species that didn’t appear in Israel until the 12th century BC, and every indication suggests that the Philistines brought them there.

Some of those plants are things that, today, seem inseparable from our concept of Israel. According to a report by Bar-Ilan University, sycamores, coriander, cumin, and bay trees were all brought into the area by the Philistines. Before they arrived, not a single one was there.

The Philistines also brought opium. By the 12th century BC, people knew what effect opium could have. The Philistines knew what it was—and there’s every reason to believe they made use of it.


4Ramses III Crushed Them

Ramses III

Photo via Wikimedia

The Sea Peoples wreaked havoc on Egypt during the reigns of Ramses II and Merneptah—but they would meet their match in Ramses III.

The Philistines and the other Sea Peoples united together in an assault on Egypt, determined, according to an inscription Ramses III left in a temple, to burn Egypt to the ground. “They came with fire prepared before them, forward to Egypt,” Ramses III wrote. “Their hearts were confident, full of their plans.”

Ramses III blocked off the rivers with enough warships to form a wall and filled the coast with soldiers. He personally marched to the front lines and fought with his men. The Sea Peoples were crushed. “Those who reached my boundary,” Ramses III boasted, “their seed is not; their heart and their soul are finished forever and ever.”

3The Egyptians Cut Off Their Genitals

Medinet Habu Penises

Photo credit: Steven C. Price

Ramses III didn’t stop at killing the Philistines. These people had tormented his nation for years. He mutilated their bodies in the worst ways imaginable.

Egyptian soldiers were ordered to count the dead by chopping off their hands, their heads, and even their genitals. Their body parts were taken to the pharaoh and measured and counted by his advisors. This, to Ramses III, was a great victory. He even had pictures carved into the walls of his temples that show his men presenting him with piles of severed penises.

It was more than just dehumanizing. According to the Egyptian religion, mutilating the dead Sea Peoples meant that they had no chance of surviving the afterlife. The Egyptians truly hated these people. They weren’t satisfied to stop at killing their mortal bodies. They destroyed their immortal souls as well.

2The Egyptians Enslaved Them

Defeated Sea People

After holding off the Sea Peoples’ attack, the Egyptians marched into their lands and crushed them. “I have taken away their land and their boundaries,” Ramses III wrote. “They are added to mine.”

The Philistines became subjects of the pharaoh. “I settled them in strongholds bound in my name,” Ramses III wrote. “I taxed them all, in clothing and grain from the store-houses and granaries each year.” Paying taxes, though, was likely a lucky fate for a Philistine. The drawings on Egypt’s walls show many more being dragged off in chains to slavery.

The strong houses, it’s believed, were in modern Palestine. The Egyptians put the Philistines right next to Israel. Over the next centuries, these neighbors would squabble and fight in wars that would define the future history of the Jews. In that moment, a conflict began that still echoes today.

1They Brought The World Into A Dark Age

The Philistines’ new home was in the center of a trading hub. Over the next few years, they would gain some independence from Egypt, and their squabbles and battles with their neighbors would spark one of the most significant moments in human history.

The Philistines are believed to have cut off the supply of tin that was being traded around the Mediterranean. This was more than just a minor inconvenience: That tin was the key to making bronze, and this was the Bronze Age.

Over the next 200 years, the Philistines plunged their neighbors into a dark age. Major empires, including the Canaanites, the Hittites, Cyprus, and Mycenae, all collapsed. The Middle East was plunged into one of the darkest periods of human history.

Those who survived made the switch from bronze to iron. A new age of iron had dawned, brought on, in a large part, by a nation that, until recently, we knew almost nothing about.

10 Facts About The Kamikaze You Probably Didn’t Know

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10 Facts About The Kamikaze You Probably Didn’t Know

A. C. LU FEBRUARY 5, 2017


Kamikaze suicide attacks were one of the most frightful tactics of the Pacific theater during World War II. Named after the divine wind of a hurricane that repelled Mongol invaders in Japan’s ancient past, these planes and pilots are often thought of as nothing more than fanatics, brainwashed into giving their lives, but the truth is more nuanced. These pilots were as human as any and often battled between loyalty and their fear of death. The details of the Kamikaze attacks are a history lesson that we should not forget.

10The First Kamikaze Attack Was Not Planned


Photo credit: AP

During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, 28-year-old Lieutenant Fusata Iida was hit. His plane, a Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero, had sustained heavy damage, and he signaled the rest of his air group to go on without him. He pointed to the ground, indicating his intention to crash his plane at a suitable target. He targeted Hanger 101, the base’s primary hanger, which he intended to ram in a suicide run. American ground fire ripped his plane apart and instead of hitting the hanger his plane overshot and crashed.

Fusata Iida is widely considered the first Kamikaze, though that was not his intention setting out. His body was buried by Americans at the Heleloa burial area, and a memorial now marks the site of his crash. His remains have since been returned to Japan.


9The First Planned Kamikazes Weren’t Until Three Years Later


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Conventional naval and aerial tactics failed to stop the American offensive after Pearl Harbor. This desperate situation led to a new tactic. Japanese naval Captain Motoharu Okamura said of the matter, “I firmly believe that the only way to swing the war in our favor is to resort to crash-dive attacks with our planes . . . There will be more than enough volunteers for this chance to save our country.”

The first wave of Kamikazes were made up of 24 volunteer pilots from Japan’s 201st Air Group. They specifically target US escort carriers. The St. Lowas one such carrier that was struck and sunk in less than one hour, killing 100 Americans.

8Battle Of Okinawa’s Heavy Loses


Photo credit: US Navy

The Battle of Okinawa was an intense 82-day campaign involving more than 287,000 US and 130,000 Japanese troops. It was considered the bloodiest battle of the Pacific Theater, and more than 90,000 men died from both sides, along with almost 100,000 civilian casualties. During this conflict, Kamikazes inflicted the greatest damage ever sustained by the US Navy in a single battle, killing almost 5,000 men.

All told, Kamikazes sank 34 ships and damaged hundreds of others during the entire war.


7The Emperor Personally Visited Them


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Hisao Horiyama is one of the few surviving Kamikaze pilots. At the time, he was a 21-year-old airmen caught in a faltering war. Horiyama has said, “We didn’t think too much about dying. We were trained to suppress our emotions. Even if we were to die, we knew it was for a worthy cause. Dying was the ultimate fulfillment of our duty, and we were commanded not to return. We knew that if we returned alive that our superiors would be angry.

“When we graduated from army training school, the Showa emperor visited our unit on a white horse. I thought then that this was a sign that he was personally requesting our services. I knew that I had no choice but to die for him.”

As for why his duty insisted he volunteer, he added, “At that time, we believed that the emperor and nation of Japan were one and the same.” Ultimately, the war was over before Horiyama was sent into battle as a Kamikaze pilot.

6Pilots Wrote Their Family Final Letters


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Like all Kamikaze pilots, Horiyama was asked to pen a letter and will, which were to be sent to his family after his death. He said, “I was a disrespectful child and got poor grades at school. I told my father that I was sorry for being such a bad student, and for crashing three planes during training exercises. And I was sorry that the course of the war seemed to be turning against Japan. I wanted to prove myself to him, and that’s why I volunteered to join the special attack unit.

“But my mother was upset. Just before she died, she told me that she would never have forgiven my father if I had died in a kamikaze attack. So I’m grateful to the emperor that he stopped the war.”

Another such letter, written by 23-year-old Adachi Takuya to his parents before his death as a Kamikaze pilot on April 28, 1945, has been preserved in its entirety:

Honorable Mother and Father,
The difficulty of the journey you made to see me was clearly evident in your disheveled hair and in the hollows under your eyes-it made me want to bend my knees and worship before you. In the wrinkles on your brows was vivid testimony of the pains you took to raise me. Words could not express my feelings, and what little I did say was superficial in the extreme.
Yet, although acutely conscious of how little time we had, I saw in your eyes and in your gaze all you wanted to say but couldn’t.
When you took my hand and passed it over your chilblains, I experienced a sense of profound peacefulness unlike anything I have experienced since joining up -like being a baby again and longing for the warmth of a mother’s love. It is because I bask in the beauty of your deep devotion that I can martyr myself for you-for in death I will sleep in the world of your love. Washed down with my tears was the sushi you prepared with such loving care, for it was like putting your love to my lips. Though I ate but little, it was the most delicious meal of my life.
Honorable Mother, even if I was never able to fully accept the love you gave me, I received so much wisdom from you. And Father, your silent words are carved deeply into my heart. With this I will be able to fight together with you both. Even if I should die, it will be with a peaceful spirit.
I mean this with all my heart.
The war zone is where these beautiful emotions are put to the test. If death means a return to this world of love, there is no need for me to fear. There is nothing left to do but press on and fulfill my duty.
At 16oo hours our meeting was over. Watching you walk out the gate, I quietly waved goodbye.

5Not All Kamikaze Pilots Were Willing


Photo credit: japantimes.co.jp

Horiyama was disappointed he survived, feeling he failed in his duties. He said, “I felt bad that I hadn’t been able to sacrifice myself for my country. My comrades who had died would be remembered in infinite glory, but I had missed my chance to die in the same way. I felt like I had let everyone down.” But not all of his fellows felt the same.

Takehiko Ena, another surviving Kamikaze pilot, relates that when he received his assignment as a Kamikaze, “I felt the blood drain from my face. The other pilots and I congratulated each other when the order came through that we were going to attack. It sounds strange now, as there was nothing to celebrate. On the surface, we were doing it for our country. We made ourselves believe that we had been chosen to make this sacrifice. I just wanted to protect the father and mother I loved. And we were all scared.”


4Kamikazes Were Often Mechanically Unsound


Photo credit: US Navy

Takehiko Ena, who is now in his nineties, survived World War II only because of ongoing technical problems with the aging planes forced into service toward the end of the war. Many such planes had been stripped and adapted into Kamikazes. Ena’s first attempt at flying a Kamikaze ended before the plane could get airborne. His second mission also ended without success when his plane’s engine suffered from mechanical problems and forced him to make an emergency landing, still carrying the bomb meant to kill himself and the enemy.

In his third and final attempt, engine trouble forced another emergency landing, this time into the sea. Ena and two others with him survived by swimming to a nearby island and were rescued some two months later by a Japanese submarine. Soon thereafter, the war was over. Ena’s salvation came from the poor condition of the Kamikaze fleet.

3Kamikaze Pilots Were Used As Propaganda


One famous case of this was with Arima Masafumi, who served as the commander of the 26th Air Flotilla. He was described as a personable commanding officer who took the time to greet his crew every day with a “good morning” and as the “picture of dignity,” even wearing his full uniform in the topical heat.

Masafumi personally participated in a suicide attack against the US fleet off the Philippine Islands. He specifically targeted carrier Franklin but was reportedly shot down before he was able to crash into her. Despite this, a report was made from Tokyo that he had succeeded in crippling the ship and in so doing, “lit the fuse of the ardent wishes of his men.” He was posthumously promoted to the rank of vice admiral.

2Kamikaze Units Were Named From A Poem


“Tanka” is Japanese for “short poem.” One of the most famous was written by the scholar Motoori Norinaga in the Edo era. It reads:

Shikishima no
yamato-gokoro o
hito towaba
asahi ni niou

If someone inquires
about the Japanese soul
of these Blessed Isles,
say mountain cherry blossoms,
fragrant in the morning sun.

Shikishima (Islands of Japan), Yamato (A traditional name for Japan), Asahi (rising sun), and Yamazakura (mountain cherry) were the names of the first four Kamikaze units.

1Kamikaze Pilots Were Given A Manual


Photo credit: Wikimedia

They kept these manuals in their cockpit, which contained both a guide on how to handle their mission and a series of inspiring thoughts and reassurance. One paragraph explains what to do in the event of an aborted mission: “In the event of poor weather conditions when you cannot locate the target, or under other adverse circumstances, you may decide to return to base. Don’t be discouraged. Do not waste your life lightly. You should not be possessed by petty emotions. Think how you can best defend the motherland. Remember what the wing commander has told you. You should return to the base jovially and without remorse.”

The Manual also explained a Kamikaze pilot’s mission: “Transcend life and death. When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life. This will also enable you to concentrate your attention on eradicating the enemy with unwavering determination, meanwhile reinforcing your excellence in flight skills.”

And it also contained this short message: “Be always pure-hearted and cheerful. A loyal fighting man is a pure-hearted and filial son.”

10 Bizarre Martian Reports From The Past

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10 Bizarre Martian Reports From The Past



It may seem that the whole UFO craze began with the crash at Roswell, but newspapers have been talking about the possibility of aliens, specifically Martians, long before that. People in the early 1900s began speculating about contact with our neighbor planet and tried to determine how Martians might actually look, given the clues scientists had about the atmosphere and conditions of Mars. By the 1950s, belief in Martians turned to actual sightings and interactions with these beings, leaving people curious, excited, and above all, scared out of their wits.

10The Martian Message

In December 1900, a beam of light was seen coming from the planet Mars. The light was observed by the Lowell Observatory in the US, and newspapers around the world began to report on the possibility of Martian contact.

Nikola Tesla himself believed that communication with Martians was possible and dedicated 50 years of his life to the endeavor. As far as he was concerned, this particular beam of light proved that there was indeed life on Mars. Furthermore, many people felt that the beam was an invitation to join in on some “interplanetary telegraphy.”

9Intelligent Martian People

By 1906, the people of Earth were already making wild guesses as to what the people of Mars must be like. First and foremost, scientists automatically assumed that the Martians must be intelligent. Some went as far as to suggest that their intelligence far exceeded that of mere humans, owing to the fact “that we do not know how to control ourselves.”

Scientists also seemed to agree that Martians lived twice as long as humans, allowing the Martians to gather greater knowledge than those of us on Earth. Their strength, too, was reported as being greater than the lowly Earthlings. This news undoubtedly put the fear of God into a great many people whosaw Martians as a threat and not as friendly neighbors.

8Trade With Mars

Talk about getting ahead of ourselves. By 1909, there was talk of trade with the Martians, even though no contact had been directly made with them. According to one newspaper report, the Germans were already dreaming up ways that trade would be possible.

One futuristic plan for trade with the Martians involved shooting a hermetically sealed aluminum cylinder up into space and directly toward Mars. The cylinder would be filled with trade items from Earth, and of course, the Martians would have to shoot something back our way.

At the same time, there was also talk of piercing a hole directly through the Earth so that sunlight would shine through it and be seen on Mars. Then we humans would somehow Morse code the Martians by covering and uncovering the hole.


Of course, there was some wild speculation about what these Martians actually looked like. In 1912, a newspaper article reported that M. Edmond Perrier, the director of the French Botanical Society, believed that the Martians had a largely Scandinavian appearance.

According to him, the Martians were extremely tall because of the lack of gravity on their planet. They had large, blue eyes and nearly white hair. Their ears and noses would be large. For some reason, they would have no necks or waists, and their legs would be extremely thin and their feet very small.

Perrier also believed that plant life on Mars was very lush. The lack of atmosphere would allow the plants to grow freely without the weight of gravity.

6Those Pesky Canals

Mars 'Canals'

Photo credit: Percival Lowell

There was a lot of curiosity about the “canals” on Mars, as astronomers watched them almost daily in order to spot any signs of activity. In 1912, it was reported that one of the canals had doubled in width over a few weeks, further providing proof that there was intelligent life on Mars.

In 1927, a newspaper report gave details that Professor Lowell, “the greatest student of Mars who ever lived,” believed that Mars was drying up. The Martians created these intricate canals to collect water from the frozen poles and irrigate the rest of the land. In a rather romantic view, the professor believed that during this period of severe drought, “all nations on Mars would have united together for this purpose. We picture them as desperately fighting, inch by inch, a losing battle against the grim spectre of thirst.”

5Invasion Panic

The 1938 airing of The War of the Worlds on US radio stations sent a panic across the country, but in 1949, a “localized version” of the story was aired in Ecuador. The retelling of the story had the aliens landing in Cotocollao and some going straight for Quito. Listeners were scared, believing that the story was real. People hit the streets, and there was mass panic.

When they realized what was happening, the radio directors made a public announcement, assuring people that this was only a story and not an actual account. This ticked people off even more, and they went straight for the newspaper building from which the story was being broadcast. The mob began stoning the building, scaring the workers inside to the upper floors. Someone started a fire, and as the building burned, people jumped out of the windows to escape being burned to death.

Troops were sent in, along with tanks. Tear gas was used to settle the angry population. According to one newspaper report, 15 people died, and at least 15 more were injured.

4After The Roswell UFO Incident

The famous Roswell incident happened in 1947, but weird things were still happening in the state of New Mexico in 1950. In one case, a group of deer hunters discovered a metallic sphere made of duralumin. The guys thought that they had discovered a small flying saucer from Mars. Instead, it was reported from top officials that inside the sphere was something “resembling a plastic flower pot with nylon shreds, a cheap alarm clock, and three packages of the kind of film used in Atomic research.”

An official statement from Washington announced that there was absolutely nothing to worry about concerning invaders from outer space, and the Navy assured people that the sphere was probably a device they had sent into the stratosphere to research cosmic rays.

Nothing to see here, folks.

3Welcome To Australia

1954 was a busy year for our Martian neighbors. In January, “Martian saucers” were being seen all across Australia. Bored with visits to the US, they decided to start scouting out Australia. Thousands of reports were coming in about strange objects in the sky.

According to both astronomers and the Royal Australian Air Force’s Project “Saucer,” these objects could only have come from one planet: the “only one member of the solar system besides earth [that] is capable of supporting life, and that is Mars.” According to one calculation, the inhabitants of Mars were so far advanced that it would only take them four minutes to reach Earthfrom their planet.

2A Martian In France

While the Martians were buzzing overhead in Australia, one Martian decided to mess with a farmer in France in 1954.

According to the farmer’s account, he was suddenly blown across the road and left paralyzed for ten minutes. While he was unable to move or scream, two pale blue lights came down, and a strange creature with green lights on either side of its head took a look at him. After a moment, the lights went out, and the short creature wearing a tight suit went across the road and vanished. When the farmer regained use of his limbs, his legs and hands ached.

Police visited the area of the encounter and found that the ground had been disturbed, but they found no Martian footprints.

1The Scottish Encounter

Another Martian encounter happened in Scotland in 1954. This time, a British writer named Cedric Allingham “met a man from Mars.”

In Cedric’s account, a saucer landed, and a Martian jumped out and greeted him. He said that the Martian had brown hair and a tan. (Maybe from enjoying the Australian beaches?) The Martian was wearing a form-fitting suit that sort of resembled chain mail.

Somehow, the two had a conversation, and Cedric learned that interplanetary travel was quite popular among the people of Mars and Venus, which is no surprise, since there were also firsthand accounts of visits from Venusians in the 1950s.

Elizabeth spends most of her time surrounded by dusty, smelly, old books in a room she refers to as her personal nirvana. She’s been writing about strange “stuff” since 1997 and enjoys traveling to historical places.