A 3000-year-old Philistine cemetery was studied in Ashkelon, Israel, by archaeologists. Over 200 individuals provided an unprecedented look at the ancient burial practices and the population itself.
Archaeologists estimate that nearly 1200 people might be buried at the site, of which at least 227 individuals, ranging from infants to older adults were studied so far. So far the experts concluded that the burial practices varied at the site. Most of the people were were placed in shallow pits, often with pairs of jugs or storage containers nearby. Some pits contained the remains that had been buried on top of one or more previously interred bodies. Among the finds are bronze earrings, bracelets, rings and other jewellery adorn most skeletons of children and women. Several pit graves of male skeletons include ornamental beads or engraved stones.
Archaeologists also uncovered ashes and bone fragments from six human cremations in sealed jars placed in pit graves. There were also finds of burial chambers. At least eight of them were capped with stone slabs. The largest chamber held skeletons of 23 individuals. According to bioarchaeologists that studied the remains, Philistines buried at Ashkelon show signs of physiological stress. At least some of those buried had been killed in battles or fights, but no head injuries or other skeletal signs of violent encounters. No signs of tumors or cancers were found so far. The scientists hope to extract DNA from the skeletons to reveal where the Philistines originally came from.
(after Science News, Tsafir Abayov & Leon Levy Expedition)