Archeological dig in Israel uncovers information about Goliath’s kin
Archeological digs in Gath have uncovered new findings that reveal information about the life of the Philistines, who are often mentioned in the Bible as the enemies of the Israelites.
Some of the findings include:
- Several Philistine earthenware vessels up to 3,000 years old, including a painted shard of a jug with a black spiral and reddish frame, a common ancient Grecian design which hints of the Aegean origin of the Philistines.
- Ancient bones showing that aside from a main diet of grass pea lentils, the Philistines also ate dogs and pigs—animals which the Israelites considered unclean, and which are still restricted in the Jewish diet.
- Traces of 9th-century destruction in the city including a dark line across hills which indicate that a protective wall was probably built that surrounded the city. The Book of Kings in the Bible tells of King Hazael who, in 830 B.C., razed the city to the ground.
- The remains of a large structure with two pillars, possibly of a temple, similar to that described in the Biblical Book of Judges which Samson shattered when he broke through his shackles, bringing the temple down. Maeir says the structure might be an accepted design for Philistine temples at that time.
- * Shards with names akin to Goliath, indicating that the Philistines used this name, and supporting the geopolitical milieu of the period as described in the Bible.
Diggings in Gath have been conducted annually since 1996 under Aren Maeir, co-director of the Bar-Ilan University/Weizmann Institute of Science Joint Program in Archaeological Science.
Some 100 diggers are involved in this year’s summer excavation project. They come from various countries including the U.S.,Canada and South Korea. The project will be ongoing until July 29.
Gath is extremely significant because it has plentiful material which reveals compelling details about the life of the Philistines in the 9th and 10th centuries B.C., Seymour Gitin, director of W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, told the AP.
“Gath fills a very important gap in our understanding of Philistine history,” because of its “wonderful assemblage of material culture.”
Gath, once a sprawling city in southern Israel, occupies land that today is known as the Gaza Strip.
The Philistines, who reached Gath in 1200 B.C., came from land that today is called Greece. The diggings show that even 500 years after landing in Gath, they still worshiped gods bearing Greek names. At the same time, the Philistines absorbed facets of the local culture of their new-found land.
The most famous Philistine in the Bible is Goliath, mentioned in the book of Samuel as the giant who was felled by David, a young shepherd and who later became king.