View Full Version : Philistines introduced cumin, opium poppy and sycamore into Israel

Jean M
08-29-2015, 09:32 PM

Suembikya Frumin, Aren M. Maeir, Liora Kolska Horwitz & Ehud WeissStudying Ancient Anthropogenic Impacts on Current Floral Biodiversity in the Southern Levant as reflected by the Philistine Migration, Scientific Reports (open access)

Human migrations across geographic boundaries can facilitate the introduction of new husbandry practices and dispersal of plants and animals, resulting in changes in biodiversity. As previously demonstrated, the 12th century BCE Philistine migration–to the southern Levantine littoral, involved the transportation of pigs from Europe, engendering long term genetic displacement of local Near Eastern haplotypes. Building on this, and combining biogeographical methods of Floral List comparisons with archaeological data, we have elucidated the Philistine impact on Southern Levantine floral ecosystems. We demonstrate that previously unexploited local plants were incorporated into the Philistine milieu, and new species were introduced–from Europe, the Aegean, Egypt and Mesopotamia –resulting in the earliest locally cultivated sycamore, cumin, coriander, bay tree and opium poppy. This research has highlighted the impact of past cultures on the formation of floral ecosystems and their long-term effects on contemporary local biological diversity.

Past Horizons covers the story:

One of the most pressing issues in modern biological conservation is “invasion biology”. Due to unprecedented contacts between peoples and culture in today’s “global village” certain animal and plant species are spreading widely throughout the world, often causing enormous damage to local species.

Recent studies have shown that alien species have had a substantial impact not only in recent times but also in antiquity. This is exemplified in a study published in the August 25th issue of Scientific Reports (open access) by a team led by archaeologists from Bar-Ilan University’s Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology (Suembikya (Sue) Frumin, Prof. Ehud Weiss and Prof. Aren Maeir) and the Hebrew University (Dr. Liora Kolska Horwitz), describing the bio-archaeological remains of the Philistine culture during the Iron Age (12th century to 7th century BCE). The team compiled a database of plant remains extracted from Bronze and Iron Ages sites in the southern Levant, both Philistine and non-Philistine. By analysing this database, the researchers concluded that the Philistines brought to Israel not just themselves but also their plants.



Green squares denote Bronze Age sites, black triangles denote Iron Age sites, green squares with black triangle inside denote sites with both periods.

08-30-2015, 04:47 AM
Interesting. Surprised to learn that cumin was introduced to the Levant that late in its history, given that cumin was known to both the Sumerians and Akkadians (at least) as far back as the 3rd millennium BCE.

08-30-2015, 03:47 PM
Does this give us additional clues of their origins?

Jean M
08-31-2015, 11:06 AM
Does this give us additional clues of their origins?

According to the paper:

Until quite recently, the accepted view was that the Philistines originated from a single region, most likely somewhere in the Aegean. Recent research has revised this view and shown that in fact, the Philistine culture is comprised of migrants of multiple foreign origins, including the Aegean, who, when arriving in Canaan, intermingled with local Canaanites. The non-Levantine origin of a substantial portion of the Philistine culture is evidenced by their distinctive architecture, ceramic ware, technologies and ritual activities that point to their diverse and multifaceted origins with different components resembling Aegean, Cypriot, Anatolian, Egyptian and even Southeast European cultures.

For references, see the original.

09-05-2015, 10:49 AM
Interesting. Now you'll just need to sequence their graves, and see whether there is an actual underlayer of genetic contribution in the modern levantine population.

09-15-2015, 03:15 AM
very interesting indeed. I wonder what ancient Philistines look like, where they are from and what is the closest modern day population and descendants to them both culturally, ethnically and genetically.