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Biblical bad guys came from Europe, DNA shows
DNA揭密 聖經壞蛋「非利士人」來自歐洲

A skeleton is displayed at the Mediterranean coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon, the site of the first Philistine cemetery ever found, on June 28, 2016.
攝於二○一六年六月二十八日的這張檔案照,可見一組人類骨骸,出土於地中海濱的以色列城市亞實基倫,史上首度發現非利士人墓地的挖掘現場。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

The ancient Philistines, the Biblical villains whose origins have puzzled scholars for decades, came to the Middle East from southern Europe more than 3,000 years ago, new DNA testing has shown. The genetic findings came from skeletons unearthed by archaeologists in Israel in 2016, including the bones of infants buried beneath Philistine houses, archaeologists said in a paper published on July 3.

The much-maligned group is regularly depicted as the enemy of the Israelites in Biblical texts. The giant Goliath was a Philistine. So was Delilah who entrapped legendary warrior Samson. Thanks to their bad press, their name has also become synonymous with crassness, ignorance and hostility to culture.

But for all their prominence, where they came from before settling the coast of what is now southern Israel and Gaza remained a mystery. Varying theories had asserted their ancestors originated in the Aegean, or the northern Levant or that they were actually a local culture.

“Our study has shown for the first time that the Philistines immigrated to this region in the 12th century (BC),” said Daniel Master, director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, a coastal city where the first ever Philistine cemetery was found. “We didn’t show it by showing similar styles of pottery, we didn’t show it by looking at texts, we showed it by looking at the DNA of the people themselves,” Master said. “We can see at Ashkelon new DNA coming in from this immigrant population that is really changing the whole region.”

The Ashkelon team sent more than 100 skeletal samples to Germany’s Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. DNA was found in 10 individuals, particularly in the inner ear bones that preserved it over the millennia. The findings, published on July 3 in the journal Science Advances, showed three stages: pre-migration, migration, and then a dilution of the genetic footprint within the local population a couple hundred years later.

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Although the genetic modelling suggests southern Europe as the area of origin, there are some limitations to 3,000-year-old DNA testing, said Michal Feldman, an archaeo-geneticist who worked on the study at Max Planck. “This ancestral component is derived from Europe, or to be more specific, from southern Europe, so the ancestors of the Philistines must have travelled across the Mediterranean and arrived in Ashkelon some time between the end of the Bronze age and the beginning of the Iron age,” Feldman said.

“There would be a lot more that we can say if we had more data, for example we could maybe more precisely pinpoint the source of this migration,” she said. Earlier work by the Ashkelon team has suggested the Philistines were actually no “philistines.” Excavations of the 3,000-year-old cemetery in 2016 found bodies buried with jewelry and perfumed oil.

(Reuters)

遠古時代的「非利士人」,也就是聖經中的反派角色,其起源已困擾學者數十年之久。新的DNA檢驗結果顯示,非利士人是在三千多年前從歐洲南部來到中東地區。考古學家在七月三日發表的一篇論文中表示,這次的基因新發現來自二○一六年考古團隊在以色列挖掘到的人類骨骸,包括從非利士人房屋底下出土的多具嬰兒骸骨。

在聖經文本中,非利士人是一個受到強烈抨擊的族群,經常被描述為以色列人的仇敵。巨人歌利亞是非利士人的戰士,用美色迷惑傳奇勇士參孫的大利拉也是非利士人。多虧這些負面評論,「非利士人」這個名字後來也成為粗俗、無知,並且敵視文化的同義詞。

然而,在非利士人的「顯赫聲望」之外,這些人到底是從哪裡來到今日以色列南部和加薩的海岸線定居,一直都是個謎團。各式各樣的理論曾經聲稱非利士人的祖先起源於愛琴海地區、來自黎凡特(地中海東部的西亞地區),或指稱他們其實是當地文明。

先前,「里昂.李維考古隊」曾前往亞實基倫探勘,在這個濱海城市中發現考古史上第一座非利士人墓地。考古隊主任丹尼爾.馬斯特指出:「我們的研究顯示,同時也是首次發現,非利士人在(西元前)十二世紀移入這個區域。」馬斯特強調:「我們並不是因為相似的陶器風格、也不是依據研讀文獻,而是藉由直接檢視這些人的DNA證明出這個結果。」他補充說:「我們可以在亞實基倫看到,這群移入人口帶來的新型DNA確實改變了整個區域。」

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