David Harris/Israel Museum/Israel Antiquities Authority

Giving the lie to their reputation as barbarians, the Philistines produced pottery that displayed skill and great beauty. While their Israelite contemporaries were manufacturing undistinguished pots straight out of the Canaanite repertoire, the Philistines were fashioning a distinctive material culture.

One of the Sea Peoples, Aegean seafarers who settled along the Canaanite coast about 1175 B.C.E., the Philistines made pottery from local clays but in the style of their homeland. In the latter half of the 12th century B.C.E., the Philistines began producing the types of pottery shown here. Called Philistine bichrome ware because they are decorated in red and black, these bowls and pitchers bear typical Philistine ornamentation, most notably the bird at far right.

Dever notes that the period in which the Philistines settled in Canaan was a time of great ferment in the ancient Near East: It saw the emergence of the Aramean states in Syria; the Edomite, Moabite and Ammonite states in Transjordan; Phoenicia along the Mediterranean coast; and ancient Israel in the Canaanite highlands.