ASHKELON, Israel, July 10 (UPI) -- The Philistines - villains in the Bible thought to have little culture or class - may have gotten a bad rap.
The discovery of a Philistine cemetery on the southern coast of Israel shows them buried with jewelry and scented oils, The Independent reported.
The cemetery was discovered outside the ancient walls of Ashkelon, a major Philistine city between the 12th and 7th centuries B.C. It is the first of its kind in archaeological investigation in the region, National Geographic reported.
More than 100 years of research has revealed the location of the five major cities of the Philisines, but most of what has been found is pots, not people. Until this find, only a handful of burials had been even tentatively identified.
The cemetery contains more than 211 individuals dating from the 11th to the 8th century B.C. It is expected to allow archaeologists to answer a lot of questions regarding the origin of the Philistine people and how they fit in with the local culture.
"After decades of studying what Philistines left behind, we have finally come face to face with the people themselves," said Daniel M. Master, professor of archaeology at Wheaton College and one of the excavation leaders."With this discovery we are close to unlocking the secrets of their origins."
The Bible depicts the Philistines as the archenemies of the Israelites, foreign people who migrated to five main cities in Philistia which today is southern Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Goliath, known in the Bible as the Giant slain by young King David, is the most well known of the Philistines.