An archaeological dig has unearthed the remains of an enormous gate which may have marked the entrance of a biblical city said to be home to the legendary giant Goliath.
The remains of Gath of the Philistines were located in the Judean foothills between Jerusalem and Ashkelon. The huge biblical warrior was slain by David, the future king of Israel.
The discovery is part of a two-decade long expedition being led by Professor Aren Maeir of the Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition.
Remains of the Iron Age city wall of Philistine Gath
The city gates are so large they point to evidence Gath as being the largest city in the land during the 10th-9th century BCE.
The city gate of Philistine Gath is referred to in the Hebrew Bible in the story of David's escape from King Saul to Achish, King of Gath.
“That day David fled from Saul and went to Achish king of Gath. But the servants of Achish said to him, ‘Isn’t this David, the king of the land? Isn’t he the one they sing about in their dances: Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands?’ David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath. So he pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard.” – 1 Solomon 21:10-12
Fortifying walls, a temple and an iron production facility were also found at the site, which is in the Tel Zafit National Park.
Maeir told Live Science: “These monumental fortifications stress how large and mighty this city was.”
An engraved illustration of David and Goliath from The Popular Pictorial Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, Published in 1862
The city was besieged and destroyed by Hazael King of Aram Damascus in 830 BCE.
According to a statement released by the university, further significant findings at the site include:
“Philistine Temples dating to the 11th through 9th century BCE, evidence of an earthquake in the 8th century BCE possibly connected to the earthquake mentioned in the Book of Amos I:1, the earliest decipherable Philistine inscription ever to be discovered, which contains two names similar to the name Goliath; a large assortment of objects of various types linked to Philistine culture; remains relating to the earliest siege system in the world, constructed by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus around 830 BCE, along with extensive evidence of the subsequent capture and destruction of the city by Hazael, as mentioned in Second Kings 12:18; evidence of the first Philistine settlement in Canaan (around 1200 BCE); different levels of the earlier Canaanite city of Gath; and remains of the Crusader castle "Blanche Garde" at which Richard the Lion-Hearted is known to have been.”
A view of the Iron Age fortifications of the lower city of Philistine Gath