‘Philistines were not European invaders’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Aren Maeir | New Light on the Biblical Philistines: Recent Study on the Frenemies of Ancient Israel

9 May 2014

Aren M. Maeir, Professor, The Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University and Director, The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, The Institute of Archaeology

The Philistines are well-known from biblical texts as one of the main adversaries of the ancient Israelites. At the same time, the biblical narrative indicates that other types of interactions also were the norm. Recent excavations in Philistia, and in particular those at Tell es-Safi, biblical Gath of the Philistines, hometown of Goliath, have provided exciting evidence of the very complex interaction between these two cultures, revealing the multi-layered facets of what could be termed a Frenemy relationship between the Philistines and Israelites. In addition, recent finds have very much changed our understanding of who the Philistines were, where they came from, and how their culture formed, transformed, and eventually disappeared. These topics will be addressed in this lecture.

That was three years ago. Now, there is a new theory.

From Haaretz daily in Israel:

Ancient Egyptian Records Indicate Philistines Weren’t Aegean Pirates After All

New study of 3,200-year-old documents from Ramses III suggests the much-reviled Philistines were not alien belligerents but native Middle Easterners.

By Ariel David, Jul 23, 2017

Research into ancient Egyptian records from the 12th century B.C.E. is shedding new light on a mystery archaeologists have been debating for decades: the origin of the Philistines and other marauding “Sea Peoples” that appeared in the Levant during the late Bronze Age.

The research, and other recent discoveries, suggest the enigmatic Philistines may have been a native Middle Eastern population, rather than invading pirates from the Aegean islands, as traditional scholarship holds.

The Philistines may also have played a much less nefarious role than previously thought in the sudden and unexplained collapse of great civilizations – including the Hittite empire, Egypt and Mycenae – that occurred around the 12th century BCE.

“We shouldn’t think of the Philistines and the other Sea Peoples as this huge coalition of Mediterranean fighters who whoosh through the land and destroy everything in their way,” says Shirly Ben-Dor Evian, the curator of Egyptian archaeology at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, whose doctoral research at Tel Aviv University resulted in the article published last week in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology.

Biblical influences

The study reinterprets ancient Egyptian records from the reign of Pharaoh Ramses III, which have long been known to researchers and have formed the basis of what we know about the early history of the Sea Peoples, of which the Philistines were just one group.

The so-called Harris Papyrus, a biography of Ramses III written under his son and successor Ramses IV, tells us that the pharaoh defeated the “Peleset” – as the Egyptians called the Philistines and other Sea Peoples early in his reign (around 1190 B.C.E.) and brought them back as captives to his lands.

Historians have used this document to explain how the Philistines first settled on the southern coastal plain of Canaan: They were brought there as prisoners and then gained independence when Egyptian control over Canaan waned a few decades later, just in time to become the wicked archenemies of the Israelites described in the Bible.

But there is a problem with that interpretation, Ben-Dor Evian notes. The papyrus literally says the defeated foes were “brought as captives to Egypt,” not Canaan, and “settled in strongholds” there.

Previous generations of scholars may have been too eager to interpret Egyptian texts to fit the Biblical narrative, she says.

“We know from the Bible that the Philistines lived in five main cities – Gaza, Ekron, Gath, Ashkelon and Ashdod, and we know that Gaza used to be an Egyptian fortress so we put two and two together and say: ‘Aha, Ramses settled them in Gaza,’” Ben-Dor Evian explains. “But this papyrus was written in the 12th century B.C.E., while the Bible, most scholars today agree, was probably written much later.”

Resettling prisoners in the heartland of the empire, rather than in peripheral areas like Canaan, was common Egyptian practice, Ben-Dor Evian says (and the Israelites would experience similar treatment at the hands of the Babylonians centuries later).

There is evidence that the captives “from the Great Green” – one of the terms with which the Egyptians referred to the Sea Peoples – were probably resettled in the west of the Nile Delta region, and may have even been pressed into military service. A different papyrus from Ramses’ time tells us that the pharaoh mobilized 100 Philistines and 200 Sherden (another of the Sea Peoples) to help deal with a Libyan rebellion to the west of Egypt. This would only make sense if the warriors were close at hand – rather than far off to the east in Canaan, Ben-Dor Evian argues.

A vicious enemy, or embellishment by Ramses?

But where did those defeated Philistines originally hail from?

The answer may come from inscriptions and reliefs found at Medinet Habu, Ramses’ funerary temple, which describe the pharaoh’s campaigns against the Sea Peoples, depicting two large battles, one at land and one at sea. The reliefs do not give names for their locations, and traditional scholarship held the battles were coordinated assaults that occurred almost at the same time in northern Sinai and the mouths of the Nile. But not all agree.

“There was this vision of a coordinated attack from land and sea,” Ben-Dor Evian says. “It’s part of the allure of the Sea Peoples: they were so good that they could coordinate their attacks on Egypt on land and sea at a time when there was no instant communication.”

But the battle reliefs at Medinet Habu are not connected; they are interrupted by a scene of Ramses hunting lions, suggesting the two encounters probably happened at very different places and times. Furthermore, the land battle scene is accompanied by depictions of humped oxen and carts carrying women and children.

These images, previously interpreted as further evidence of a mass migration of the Sea Peoples from foreign lands, are actually standard iconography used to identify locations in Syria and the northern Levant, Ben-Dor Evian says.

“Egyptian war reliefs don’t contain a location for a battle, because the reliefs are on the outside of the temple, and most people can’t read so there’s no point in writing,” she told Haaretz in an interview. “They used artistic conventions, icons, just like we do.”

Further confirming the northern context of the land battle is an inscription at the temple, describing the Sea Peoples as a scourge that had made a camp in Amurru after laying waste to Hatti (the Hittite empire), Alashiya, Carchemish and Arzawa.

All these kingdoms – except for Alashiya, which was in Cyprus – were located between modern-day southeast Turkey and northern Syria.

This list of terrifying deeds is likely historically inaccurate, Ben-Dor Evian notes: the Hittite empire had already fallen decades before Ramses’ campaign, while Carchemish is one of the few cities that was not destroyed during the Bronze Age collapse.

Perhaps Ramses was trying to justify his decision to go to war, or was making his foes look more powerful than they were to aggrandize his victory. If so, his propaganda effort worked so well that thousands of years later this inscription is still the basis for viewing the Sea Peoples as an all-powerful military machine that swept, barbarian-invasion-style, through the entire Mediterranean.

As the Hittites fell

Ben-Dor Evian suggests that while piracy by the Sea Peoples and warfare may have contributed to weaken the great empires of the age, we need to look elsewhere for the main causes of the Bronze Age collapse, such as the increasing complexity of those civilizations and the difficulties centralized powers faced in sustaining them. In 2013, a study by Tel Aviv University added climate fluctuation to the list of possible culprits, showing a long period of drought in the late Bronze Age that may have driven mass migration and conflict.

As for the origins of the Philistines, Ben-Dor Evian says it seems likely the people Ramses III defeated may have been simply locals from Syria or Anatolia who filled the vacuum created by the fall of the Hittite empire.

A Levantine origin for the Philistines is further supported, she says, by the fact that the Medinet Habu inscriptions identify the Sea Peoples as teher – the same term reserved to describe Syrian or Anatolian warriors allied with the Hittites during the battle of Kadesh, the great clash that Ramses II had won against his northern foes around 1274 B.C.E., nearly a century earlier.

“So, they were not this unknown group that suddenly appeared out of nowhere,” Ben-Dor Evian concludes.

The Aegean hypothesis fights back

Some archeological discoveries also seem to support this view. The presence at Philistine sites of Aegean-style pottery, long seen as evidence of their Greek origin, has now been shown to be a local imitation of Cypriot earthenware.

Meanwhile, the discovery at Tel Tayinat, in southeastern Turkey, of several inscriptions referring to the kingdom of “Palastin” or “Palasatini” also suggests the Philistines may have started as a neo-Hittite power in the northern Levant and later migrated south as the Egyptians lost control of Canaan in the mid 12th century.

That does not mean that the Aegean hypothesis has completely lost steam. Archeologists who last year uncovered the first Philistine cemetery ever found, in ancient Ashkelon, have described the burials there as typically Aegean.

It is likely that the Philistine culture that emerged in southern Canaan was the result of various influences and migratory waves from different locations across the Mediterranean, says Aren Maeir, a professor of archaeology at Bar-Ilan University who heads the excavation at Tell es-Safi, the site of ancient Gath.

“In the material culture of the early Philistines we see something from Greece, from Cyprus, from Crete, from western Anatolia,” Maeir told Haaretz in a telephone interview.

The archaeologist does agree with Ben-Dor Evian that the Philistines appeared earlier than previously thought and have been unfairly characterized as particularly warlike invaders.

“We see many people of different origins who settled aside the Canaanite inhabitants,” he said. “Despite some localized destruction, most of the Canaanite sites continue to exist peacefully alongside the Philistine ones.”

Donald Trump and nuclear war, Sinatra parody song


This parody music video from Britain is called Frank Sinatrump – “Nuke War, Nuke War” (live at Mar-a-Lago).

It is a parody of Frank Sinatra‘s song New York, New York.

It says about itself:

22 July 2017

Explosive stuff from Donald Trump‘s Frank Sinatra tribute act, live at Mar-a-Lago.

LYRICS:

Start spreading the news
I’m living underground
I need some other place to live
Nuke war, nuke war

Those damn North Koreans
Launched a supercalafragilistic missile
That’s got a big league range on it
Nuke war, nuke war

I want to wake up in a city that still exists
And find I’m still President, not a vapor mist

Let’s blow ‘em up first
They won’t see that coming, hehehe
I’ve got the codes and everything
Nuke war, nuke war
If we can explode them
We can explode Iran
It’s up to me, nuke war, nuke war

United States air force kills Afghan police allies


This 19 September 2016 video is called 8 Afghan police killed in US airstrikes in Uruzgan.

Now, another year (this year) and another province.

According to a CNN report today, the United States air force has killed Afghan police allies. Dutch NOS TV says that the United States bombs killed at least twelve policemen in Helmand province.

Cameroon military tortures innocent children as ‘anti-terrorism’


This video says about itself:

Cameroon’s Secret Torture Chambers: Fotokol

19 July 2017

Amnesty International has collected evidence of over a hundred cases of illegal detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing of Cameroonian citizens falsely accused of supporting or being a member of Boko Haram, at around twenty sites across the country.

Using testimony and information supplied by Amnesty International, Forensic Architecture reconstructed two of these facilities – a regional military headquarters and an occupied school – in order to confirm and illustrate the conditions of incarceration and torture described by former detainees.

Read more here.

From Amnesty International:

Cameroon: Amnesty report reveals war crimes in fight against Boko Haram, including horrific use of torture
20 July 2017, 00:01 UTC

• Detainees subjected to severe beatings, agonising stress positions and drownings, with some tortured to death

• Widespread torture at 20 sites, including four military bases, two facilities run by intelligence services, a private residence and a school

• Calls for US and other international partners to investigate their military personnel’s possible knowledge of torture at one base

Hundreds of people in Cameroon accused of supporting Boko Haram, often without evidence, are being brutally tortured by security forces, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

Using dozens of testimonies, corroborated with satellite imagery, photographic and video evidence, the report ‘Cameroon’s secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram’ documents 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between 2013 and 2017, at over 20 different sites.

“We have repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the atrocities and war crimes committed by Boko Haram in Cameroon. But, nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians, who are often arrested without any evidence and forced to endure unimaginable pain,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

“These horrific violations amount to war crimes. Given the weight of the evidence we have uncovered, the authorities must initiate independent investigations into these practices of incommunicado detention and torture, including potential individual and command responsibility.”

Amnesty International wrote to the Cameroonian authorities in April 2017 to share the report’s findings, but no response was provided and all subsequent requests for meetings were refused …

The report also highlights the presence of US and French military personnel at the BIR base in Salak, and calls for these governments to investigate the extent to which their personnel stationed at Salak, or regularly visiting, may have been aware that illegal detention and torture was taking place on site.

Amnesty International delegates have directly observed French soldiers during one visit there, while more than a dozen former detainees held there between 2015 and 2016 said they saw and heard white, English-speaking men at the base, including some in military uniform. This has been confirmed by photographic and video evidence showing uniformed US personnel, some of whom are stationed there.

“Given the frequent and possibly prolonged presence of their military personnel, the US government and other international partners should investigate the degree to which their personnel were aware of illegal detention and torture at the Salak base, and whether they took any measures to report it to their hierarchy and the Cameroonian authorities,” said Alioune Tine.

Amnesty International wrote to the US and French Embassies in Cameroon on 23 June 2017, requesting further information about what their personnel knew and what was reported. The US Embassy responded on 11 July and their letter can be found in the report. No response was received from the French Embassy.

Cameroonian troops tortured and killed prisoners at base used for U.S. drone surveillance: here.

17th century pirate song rediscovered


This October 2009 music video from Dokkum town in Friesland province in the Netherlands is about the local shanty choir De Admiraliteitssjongers (the Admiralty Singers, in the Frisian language). They sing the song Bloody Mary. Which is not about the alcoholic drink of that name. Also not about the English Queen Mary I, nicknamed Bloody Mary for her bloody persecution of Protestants.

The song is about a female pirate captain, who died by drowning. It is a Dutch 1969 song.

Now, a much older song about pirates has been rediscovered.

Translated from Frisian regional broadcaster Omrop Fryslân:

Dokkum 1630 pirate song recovered in London

19 July 2017 – 16:03

A Dokkum pirate song from 1630 has been found again in the British Library via the National Library of Songs of the [Amsterdam] Meertens Institute. The historical text has been found by maritime historian Nykle Dykstra of the historic association Northeast Fryslân. The song is about arresting a Dunkirk privateer crew during the 80 year war.

War of the Dutch republic to become independent of the Spanish monarchy. The Dutch republic regarded the Dunkirk privateers, who were on the Spanish side, as pirates.

The privateers sailed across the Wadden Sea while they robbed until they were arrested by a strategem by two Dokkum captains. Five of the pirates were later hanged in Dokkum.

The song – with customized text and a new melody – is now rehearsed by shanty choir De Admiraliteitssjongers. They will sing it for the first time during the Admiralty Days on September 9th. The organization of the Admiralty Days is so enthusiastic about the discovery that it is already referred to as the Admiralty Song. Nykle Dykstra enjoys the warm welcome to the pirate song. The song deserves that too, because it tells an important historical story. The new version of the song follows as much as possible the original text. The song was made a bit faster, because in the 17th century it was still song on the melody of a psalm.

De Admiraliteitssjongers rehearsing the newly rediscovered song