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‘Dagon Our God’: Iron I Philistine Cult in Text and Archaeology

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Despite the late date and dubious veracity of the Deuteronomistic history, and despite the Bible’s status as the only Bronze or Iron Age text which indisputably refers to Dagon in a southern Canaanite geographical context, scholars have traditionally accepted 1 Samuel 5:1–8’s portrayal of Philistine cult in the Iron Age I as being centered on this deity and his temple at Ashdod. This study marshals archaeological and historical evidence to assess the level of support for the presence of Dagon in Iron I Philistia, and for a temple at Ashdod as described in the biblical account. Also considered, through comparison with the materially analogous situation in the Bronze Age Aegean, is the critical role that a textual complement to physical evidence (or, in the case of the Philistines, the lack thereof) plays in cultic analysis and pantheonic reconstruction.

Affiliations: 1: 1 Oxford St., Harvard University, Cambridge, ma 02138 jemanuel@fas.harvard.edu

10.1163/15692124-12341278
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2016-06-04
2018-09-25

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