Israeli archaeologists have discovered the likely place of a breakthrough for the fortifications of the ancient Philistine city of Gef, considered the birthplace of the mythical hero Goliath. Scientists believe that the ten-meter section of the fortress wall was destroyed by the army of the Aramaic king Azael, who conquered and destroyed the ancient Levantine center. The find is reported by the Haaretz edition.
The ancient settlement of Gef is one of the five Philistine city-states located in the territory of modern Israel and is often mentioned in the Tanakh, as well as in Egyptian and Assyrian sources. Apparently, the Philistines founded this city around 1175 BC. Scientists suggest that the prosperous Gath was destroyed by the Aramaic king Hazael around 830 BC.
Since 1996, continuous archaeological work has been carried out on Tell es-Safi, which researchers associate with the city of Gef. One of the main finds from 2010 was the ruins of a Philistine temple, as well as evidence of the destruction of part of the city walls, probably as a result of a strong earthquake. Later, scientists managed to find out the layout of the city, find a metallurgical zone, many burned buildings, as well as a potential settlement outside the fortress walls.
Archaeologists led by Professor Aren Maeir of Bar Ilan University excavated the ancient Philistine city of Gef to find a gap in the massive fortifications of this Iron Age settlement. Scientists noted that the Bible tells of the conquest of this city by the Aramaic king Azael. Despite the fact that there is a lot of controversy around this story, it is most likely that it did happen. Archaeologists have found abundant evidence of siege and destruction both inside and outside the city.
For many years, researchers have been unable to locate the places where the Arameans were able to break through the city wall. Work at the so-called “water gates”, that is, the narrow passage used to access the local well and a small seasonal stream outside Gath, yielded results. Meir noted that the break of the wall took place here, since it is the lowest part of the city and the place of access to the main source of water.
Archaeologists noted that the “water gate” was fortified with walls more than three meters thick, built of adobe bricks on a massive stone foundation. There is evidence that these huge fortifications, built in the 11th or 10th century BC, were further strengthened shortly before the destruction of Gath, possibly in anticipation of the attack of King Hazael. Near the gate, archaeologists discovered that there were no fortifications on a stretch of about ten meters. They believe that it was in this area that the Arameans were able to break into the city.
Illustration: Gustave Doré / David and Goliath, 1866 (The Holy Bible with Illustrations by Gustave Doré. London: Cassel, Petter, and Galpin, 1866).