Voices from the field

History Unearthed: The Philistine Discovery and Israel Education

By Dustin Herlich

When I was young I visited a museum in Europe that allowed me to experience a reconstructed Viking village. The exhibit was superb. It was so real – even down to the recreated smells! It was this formative experience that made me fall in love with history and archaeology.

Naturally, when I heard the news about the discovery of the Philistine graveyard in Israel, I immediately began voraciously uncovering every news story, sound bite, and video clip I could find. In doing so, not only did it reinforce my love of archaeology, but it made me think about something much grander in connection to education.

Image courtesy of Haaretz

Much like the “Red Coats” of the American Revolution, the Philistines have taken on an almost mythical status – a powerful enemy that Jews somehow overcame through seemingly impossible odds; this is where we get the story of David and Goliath from – the benchmark for any underdog story. At the most basic level, this discovery gives further credence to what is written in the central texts of our religion. It helps bridge the gap between the Torah being just a collection of stories to it being a historical document.

Judaism has always had a love of learning and a veneration of our past. By studying this archeological site, we honor our traditions. As the scientists go over every artifact with a critical eye, we’ll learn more about these mythical enemies and how they lived. Were they really as the Bible tells us? How do these ancient people relate to the Israel of today? How similar was their life to ours?

The excitement for me, and the clear connection to our work as educators, is the tangible beauty of this story. Archeology is history that has come to life, and we can experience it through each of our five senses. This discovery is way more than a dusty collection of bones – it puts the story in history.

Through such amazing discoveries, we are able to bring the past to the present in a way that engages us like never before. This helps guide us toward a future where we learn and discover more each day – and enjoy every part of the process. It brings the stories we tell to life, making them tangible and more comprehensible for all learners. For me, personally, it re-ignites the passions I felt in my youth walking through a Viking village. Using this passion, I am better able to educate my students and instill in them the same love of learning and history.

Stay tuned for more from Dustin offering resources related to this historic discovery!

Image courtesy of Russia Today