Science continues to prove the Bible on a regular basis. This time, archaeologists from Bar-Ilan University in Israel have uncovered what appears to be the hometown of the giant Goliath.
The town, called Gath, was occupied until the ninth century B.C. In biblical accounts, the Philistines — the mortal enemies of the Israelites — ruled the city. The Old Testament also describes Gath as the home of Goliath, the giant warrior whom the Israelite King David felled with a slingshot.
The new findings reveal just how impressive the ancient Philistine city once was, said lead archaeologist of the current excavation, Aren Maeir, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel.
“We knew that Philistine Gath in the 10th to ninth century [B.C.] was a large city, perhaps the largest in the land at that time,” Maeir told Live Science in an email. “These monumental fortifications stress how large and mighty this city was.”
The gates were uncovered in Tell es-Safi, which was occupied almost continuously for nearly 5,000 years, until the Arab village at the site was left in 1948, Maeir said. Though archaeologists have been excavating at the site since 1899, it wasn’t until the past few decades that they realized how massive the Iron Age remains really were.
Both the impressive settlement size and mentions in biblical accounts suggest to scholars that the site is the historic city of Gath, which was ruled by the Philistines, who lived next to the Jewish kingdoms of Judah and Israel. Most scholars think that Gath was besieged and laid to waste by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus, in 830 B.C., Maeir said.
The book of 1 Samuel describes Goliath this way:
4 Then a champion stepped out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. [9 feet, 9 inches] 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head and a breastplate of scale armor; the weight of the bronze breastplate was 5,000 shekels. [125 pounds] 6 He also had bronze shin-guards on his legs and a bronze javelin slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and the head of his spear weighed 600 shekels of iron,[15 pounds]; and his shield-bearer was marching ahead of him.
The find also demonstrates the nature of the relationship between the Israelites and their enemies the Philistines.
So far, only the top surface of the structures are visible, but based on the size and shape of the stones used to make them, the city walls must have been quite large. The mighty fortifications would have formed a rather imposing boundary that prevented the Kingdom of Judah from expanding westward, he added.
The team also found ironworks and a Philistine temple near the monumental gate, with some pottery and other finds typically associated with Philistine culture. Though the pottery represents a distinctive Philistine style, it also shows elements of Israelite technique, suggesting the cultures did influence each other in ways unrelated to war.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Irmhild B