Archaeologists who excavated the ancient Philistine city of Gath discovered megalithic 3,000-year-old fortifications of unprecedented size for their time and place. The discovery may help explain why the Bible calls this city home to giants, the researchers say.
The ruins of the city, according to archaeologists, are highly unusual and no comparable colossal structures are known in the rest of the Levant from this period. The buildings in the city are megalithic, huge terraces resting on foundations of giant stone blocks.
Gath, the ancient Philistine city, was home to giants, according to the Bible. Scholars have excavated megalithic 3,000-year-old fortifications unprecedented for their time and place. They found these ruins under the remains of a later Philistine settlement, indicating that Gath was a much older and more powerful city than previously thought.
Gath, known today as Tell el-Safi, is located in the south of Israel. The site is a tell, a mound consisting of the layered ruins of numerous settlements. Remains dating back to the 5th millennium BC have been found here, as well as the ruins of a medieval Crusader castle and an Arab village. Most scholars believe that this site is identified as the Biblical Get because of its location and finds dating back to the Philistine era.
Get is mentioned in the Bible more often than other major Philistine cities such as Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza. This city is said to be the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept after it was captured by the Philistines. Here David twice sought refuge from King Saul and then became a mercenary to the ruler of the city, Anchis.
The most interesting discovery, however, has to do with the fortifications of Gath. Archaeologists have discovered huge walls which indicate that this city was powerfully fortified. The size and scale of these fortifications are staggering – they were unprecedented for their time and place. This discovery may help explain why the Bible calls Gath home to giants.
Researchers suggest that Gath was at the height of its power much earlier than previously thought. This time coincides with the period when Gath is widely mentioned in the biblical narrative as a fierce rival of the first Israelites. It is also known that Gath was the hometown of Goliath and other huge biblical giants.
Archaeologist Aren Meir, who is leading the expedition to Gath, says the site still surprises him after 23 years of research. He notes that all that time they had this old giant city under their feet, hidden just a meter underground.
The discovery of the huge fortifications at Ghata is a significant breakthrough in archaeology. It expands our understanding of the power and significance of this ancient city. We now have more evidence that the Bible has a historical basis and reflects real events and places.