Philistine Bichrome ware
Philistine Bichrome ware is an archaeological term coined by William F. Albright in 1924 which describes pottery production in a general region associated with the Philistine settlements during the Iron Age I period in ancient Canaan (ca. 1200 - 1000 BCE).
Philistine Bichrome ware is believed to be the direct descendant of imported MYCIIIC:1b pottery (MYC = Mycenaean), which was manufactured in Cyprus and imported to ancient Canaan, and locally made MYCIIIC:1b or monochrome ware, which was manufactured at settlements in Canaan.
MYCIIIC:1b or monochrome ware was found in high-distribution during the Iron IA period (1200 - 1140/30 BCE) at the Philistine settlements of Ashdod (Stratum XIIIb: Area G; in general, Stratum XIII: Area H) and Ekron (Tel Miqne: Stratum VII). MYCIIIC:1b was also found in smaller quantities at Acre, Beit She'an, and along the coast of Lebanon and Syria.
Neutron analysis of Philistine Bichrome ware has found that it may have been made in the same workshop, locally in Canaan, as its predecessor, MYCIIIC:1b. It first appears in the mid-12th Century BCE, during Iron IB (1140/30 - 1000/980 BCE) at sites such as Ashdod (Stratum XII), Megiddo (Stratum VIB). It was mainly confined to the Philistine settlements with some distribution throughout ancient Canaan.
Stylistic features include the use of decoration with red and black paints (thus, bichrome) on a white slip with common Mycenaean motifs of birds, fish, and sailing vessels. While the shape of the pottery retains its Mycenaean roots, Cypriot influence is seen by the use of tall and narrow necks. Stylistic representations of birds in the Mycenaean style which are found on Bichrome ware were considered to be sacred and are also featured on the Philistine ships in the reliefs from Ramesses III (20th Dynasty) mortuary temple at Medinet Habu in Thebes (modern Luxor), Egypt, which depicts his battle with the Sea Peoples in the eighth year of his reign known as the Battle of the Delta ca. 1175 BCE (the traditional date; alternative date of 1178 BCE).
This form of pottery lasted until ca. 1000 BCE.
Philistine Bichrome ware is related to Cypriot Bichrome ware. 'Bichrome Red ware' from Cyprus is also relevant.
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- E. Oren (ed). The Sea People and Their World: A Reassessment. University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, 2000.
- A. Mazar. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000 - 586 BCE. Doubleday: New York, 1992.
- T. Levy (ed). The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land. Facts on File: New York, 1995.
- Nicola Schreiber (2003). The Cypro-Phoenician pottery of the Iron Age. BRILL. p. xxi. ISBN 978-90-04-12854-5. (page 204). Retrieved 2 May 2011.
The history of this cultural terminology begins early in the last century with J. L. Myres and M. Ohnefalsch-Richters Catalogue of the Cyprus Museum of 1899. Myres defines the “Graeco-Phoenician Age" as stretching from the First Introduction of Iron, to the Ptolemaic Conquest of Cyprus in 295 B.C... so named, because throughout it Cyprus was the principal meeting-point of Greek colonists and traders from the West, and of Phoenicians from the East" (Myres & Ohnefalsch-Richter 1899, 21-22). This enormous span of time included Iron Age Black-on-Red ware as well as late Mycenaean-influenced Cypriot types (Myres & Ohnefalsch-Richter 1899, Pl. IV). In 1924, Albright published his excavations at Tell el-Ful (Gibeah), where he describes “Cypro-Phoenician" pottery concurrent with Aegean Late Bronze Age types and preceding "Philistine" wares (Albright 1924, 16). Albright’s use of the term here appears to describe a general region of pottery production. He uses the same terminology in his subsequent Tell Beit Mirsim publication of 1932, but there he also distinguishes a “Cypro-Phoenician" form "of the Iron Age type" which he dates to the late century BC (Albright 1932, 54-55, 61). It is from this point it seems that the term “Cypro-Phoenician" for the Iron Age Black-on-Red ceramic particularly the small 'perfume' juglet, enters Palestinian archaeology.
- See Amihai Mazar, "The Emergence of Philistine Material Culture," IEJ 1985 35:95-107; and Israel Finkelstein, "The Philistine Settlement: When, Where and How Many," Pp. 159-180 in E, Oren, (ed). The Sea People and Their World: A Reassessment. University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, 2000; Israel Finkelstein, "A Low Chronology Update: Archaeology, history and bible," Pp. 31-42 in: T. Levy and T. Higham (eds.), The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating – Archaeology, Text and Science. Equinox: London, 2005. Available online:  [Accessed: April 5, 2008]; and Amihai Mazar’s discussion of the same: "The Debate over the Chronology of the Iron Age in the Southern Levant: Its history, the current situation and a suggested resolution". Pages 15-30 in: T. Levy and T. Higham (eds.), The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating – Archaeology, Text and Science. Equinox: London, 2005. Available online:  [Accessed: April 5, 2008].
- A. Mazar. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000 - 586 BCE, Doubleday: New York, 1992, p. 307.
- Philistine Bichrome Ware [Accessed: April 7, 2008]
- A. Mazar, Archaeology of the Land of the Bible: 10,000 - 586 BCE. Doubleday: New York, 1992, pp. 313-317.