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IA SCIENCE JOTTINGS. THE WAY OF THE PHILISTINES. TIME was when we should have called our expedition to Palestine a ” war “; as it is, the colossal scale of the fighting do our Western front has overshadowed it, so that we are in danger of under- estimatink its importance, and place, in the scheme
MEDICAL SCIENCE IN THE PALESTINE CAMPAIGN: AN ADVANCED FIELD-AMBULANCE DRESSING-STATION ON THE BRITISH FRONT.–[Phoograp by Topiml.]
of fighting reviewed as a whole. But, apart from its significance in regard to present issues, this expedition claims our most lively interest, since the theatre of its operations forms not only one of the world’s oldest battlefields, but also the graveyard of peoples long since extinct, but who, in their day, were great peoples. It is fascinating to follow the march of our armies to-day over the Palestine of the Old Testament, but it becomes even more so when we extend our survey backwards-before the incursion of the Hebrews who for a thousand years made history for us. Our armies are now marching along the ” Way of the Philistines,” which was the name given by the Israelites to the route from Egypt along the coast of Palestine. Northward, it became ” the Way of the East.” Our survey, indeed, carries us back to a period some 1200 years before Christ-to the time when Rameses III., of the Twentieth Egyptian Dynasty, ruled Egypt, and when the great Minoan civilisation of the little island of Crete was beginning to break up. Perhaps, with a premonition of impend- ing disaster to their native country, a not inconsider- able number of immigrants from Crete had been gradually forming settlements along the Palestinian coast plain-where they were known as ” the Pulishta,” or ” Pulesti,” from which the word ” Palestine ” is derived-for at least one hundred years, the earliest settlers dating back to the reign of Rameses II. How they came to settle along this strip of coast we do not know. It may have been because its possibilities may long have been known to them from adventures by sea, for during the Golden Age of Crete visits of ceremony to the Egyptian Court were frequent. But from the acces- sion of Amen-hetep III. no more ” Keftiu,” as the Egyptians called them-either as visitors of state, or as traders wearing their characteristic hair-plaits and gaily coloured kilts, and bringing rich samples of their gold and silver works of art-make their appear- ance. Itostile sea-rovers have now come on the scene, so that jaunts by sea have become dangerous. These same raiders, the Akhaivasha-identified now as the Achaeans-and the Shardana (Otho gave their
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name to Sardinia), presently fell upon Crete itself, with disastrous results. Those who escaped before the storm broke had by this time well established themselves along the Palestinian coast, and their territory extended con- siderably further than is indicated in the Bible maps of to-day. Northward they stretched at least as far
as Mount Carmel, thus impinging on the country of the Phcenicians, whose day had yet to come. How far inland they succeeded in making their way is not certainly known, but they probably held most of the country up to the Jordan till the invasion of the Chosen People. But they were the only really cul- tured or artistic people who ever occupied the soil of Palestine till the time when the influence of Classical Greece asserted itself.
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The Israelites, it will be remembered, broke through into Palestine from the other side of Jordan but ill-equipped for trying conclusions with people such as the Philistines; for, in the first place, they had at best but bronze weapons, and for the most part they had to depend on flint axes and similar weapons in use among the primitive tribes of the time. At first, they may have been friendly with these formidable people: it was prudent to be so. From them only, at any rate, could they obtain weapons of iron, for, as Samuel tells us, there was no smith in Israel. But sooner or later conflict was inevitable. Under Saul the issue wavered; but with the foundation of the monarchy and under the leader- ship of David the Philistine danger was overcome, and presently he disappeared from the stage for ever. This was the Golden Age of Israel. Under Solomon, considerable strides in civilisation were made. Under his auspices, fortifications were erected, and a great stimulus was given to architecture and the allied arts by his building operations; but, just as the Philistines were their instructors in the use of the metals, so in their building they had to seek the aid of the Phoenicians, for the Hebrews possessed neither great artificers nor great architects. ‘That the Philistines were a highly cultured people there can be no question. How comes it, then, that the term ” Philistine ” to-day is used as a term of contempt, as a label for the ” uncultured “? This libel seems to have been started by the Germans, who branded as ” Philistines ” all those,wvho had not passed through a university, such as tradesmen and others. It was, and I suppose is, their summation of the “uncultured,” and was intro- unced into this country by Matthew Arnold. The :oiners of this term have surely fashioned a boom- ,rang. We may well use the word “German ” as L synonym for ” Philistine.” Finally, I would remark that the ” Philistines,” eing derived from the Cretans, were of the ong – headed Mediterranean stock which forms so arge an element among ourselves. The ancestry if the Israelites I hope to discuss on another scasion. W. P. PYcnar.