For Bible readers, the Philistine city of Gath is best known as the home town of Goliath, a 9+ foot giant in the Philistine army who was taken down by a young boy, named David, with a sling (1 Samuel 17:4). It was also the city that Joshua had earlier described the city as being home to giants (Joshua 11:22).
Archaeologists with Bar-Ilan University have been working at the ancient city of Gath, located 21 miles west of Bethlehem, for several years and now believe it was one of the largest cities of that time.
According to an article published in Near Eastern Archaeology, they believe they have found evidence supporting the Bible’s narrative that the city was besieged and successfully captured by King Hazel of Aram, an attack recorded in 2 Kings:
17 About this time Hazael king of Aram went up and attacked Gath and captured it. Then he turned to attack Jerusalem. (2 Kings 12:17 NIV)
Archaeologists working at the site known as Tel-es-Safi/Gath discovered bone arrowheads and as well a workshop where they were produced.
Using carbon dating and pottery finds the archaeologists have dated the arrowheads to around 830 BC which fits the Biblical timetable.
But the discovery of bone arrowheads are extremely rare as the metal arrowheads were the preferred type, particularly in a battle.
But the archaeologists believe the appearance of the bone arrowheads and a workshop to produce them suggests that the city was involved in a prolonged battle and was running out of bronze and iron to produce metal arrowheads.
As a result, it was forced as a last resort to set up a workshop to produce arrowheads from cattle bone for what was undoubtedly the final days of the conflict.
One of the arrowheads found inside the city had been fired, as the point displayed a ‘clear impact fracture’ indicating it had hit an object. It may have even been fired as King Hazel’s army breached the city walls.
But this is not the only discovery made at Gath. There was an earlier one that actually helped confirm the Goliath account.
In 2013, archaeologist Dr. Aren Maeir announced he had found Goliath. Well he didn’t exactly find a 9-foot+ giant minus a head, but he did find a piece of coloured pottery with the name Goliath, “Alwat and Wlt”, etched on it. At the time, it was the earliest form of Philistine writing ever discovered.
Several experts confirmed this was the Hebrew equivalent of Goliath, as the Israelis created words, so they sounded like what was spoken by the other culture.
Maier is not convinced this is a reference to the Goliath mentioned in the Bible as it is dated to 900 BC about 100 years after David killed Goliath.
They have since found several shards with Goliath written on it.
These discoveries tell us that the name was in popular use in the city at the time, and it was common for parents to name their children after distant relatives and ancient heroes in their culture.
READ: Archeologists uncover arrowhead from biblical battle in Gath, Goliath’s hometown AND 3,000-year-old bone point sheds light on dramatic fall of biblical Gath AND Has the Biblical Goliath been found?: Bar-Ilan University Archaeologists AND Goliath found? Jerusalem Post AND Goliath’s name found in archaeological dig: Washington Post