The historic Philistines were an Indo-European people who appeared in the southern coastal area of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age (circa 1175 BC), most probably from the Aegean region. According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states (the "Philistine Pentapolis") of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with no fixed border to the east. The Bible paints them as the Kingdom of Israel's most dangerous enemy. Originating somewhere in the Aegean their population was around 25,000 in the 12th century BC, rising to a peak of 30,000 in the 11th century BC, of which the Aegean element was not more than half the total, and perhaps much less.
1475 BC: Thutmose III conquers Canaan; beginning of Egyptian domination of southern Canaanite plain.
1175 BC: Ramses III defeats the Sea Peoples including Philistines and settles captives in fortresses in southern Canaan. Papyrus Harris I gives a brief description of the outcome of the battles and the fate of the Sea Peoples. Ramesses III tells us that, having brought the imprisoned Sea Peoples to Egypt, he placed them in strongholds.
Ramses III defeating the Sea People
1150 BC: final Egyptian withdrawal from southern Canaan.
10th-7th centuries BC: Philistines lose most of their distinctive culture and absorb that of surrounding peoples.
Philistines on the Egyptian Temple at Medinet Habu
The Hittite and Mycenaean cultures collapsed at the same time, and various people from that area invaded Egypt, where they were called the Sea Peoples - the Philistines, the Lycians, and the Achaeans, among others (possibly the Trojans). Egypt defeated Sea Peoples off, but collapsed soon after.