Time has not been kind to the Philistines. Thanks to sketchy references in the Bible, they're remembered, if at all, as a warlike race of uncouth barbarians notable mainly for producing such villains as Delilah and Goliath. As the archaeologist authors of the fascinating work at hand make clear, however, folkioric perceptions of the Philistines fall well short of gospel truth. Having spent over 30 years investigating one of biblical history's greatest mysteries--the identity of the invaders whose protracted conflict with Israelites made their very name synonymous with brutishness--the Dothans are able to provide a partial portrait of these so-called ""People of the Sea."" While much remains to be learned of their language and origins, the Philistines were almost certainly part of an exodus from the Aegean Basin during the political/population upheavals that marked the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age. Defeated in battle by Egypt's Ramses III early in the 12th century B.C., the Philistines were settled along the southern coast of Canaan, claiming as their homeland an area extending from Gaza to modern Tel Aviv. On the evidence of the material unearthed at excavation sites throughout the region, the authors conclude that Philistines brought with them an advanced culture that was strikingly enriched by contacts with city-states in every corner of the ancient Mediterranean world. The Dothans have played prominent roles in recent discoveries about the Philistines, and, accordingly, they are remarkably well qualified to combine low-key accounts of their own contributions with those of other scholars (past as well as present) to shed considerable light on a classically lost civilization whose realities have proved greatly at odds with its latter-day image. Authoritative, accessible, absorbing.