I spoke with Dr. Aren Maeir, director of an archaeological excavation project, taking place in a major Philistine stronghold. Gath in southern Israel was one of five key cities associated with the Philistine presence in the region. This dig is of particular significance as it’s possibly connected to the Philistine city where a beleaguered young David sought refuge from King Saul. David allegedly feigned madness, which allowed him a degree of protection against the wrath of Saul, who was in all probability the one with serious emotional issues.
However, the significance of this story is better related to the biblical account of the battle between David and the Philistine Goliath, who David slew. The connectivity relates to the alleged gigantic size of Goliath, and the remarkable find in Gath by Dr. Maeir’s dedicated team. Massive fortifications have been unearthed under Gath. Dr. Maier dates them to around the same time period as the David and Goliath saga, in the 10th Century BCE. This discovery does indeed shed light on an ancient civilisation with a controversial past as to where they originated? However, it is too early to make any strong arguments in favour of this find lending credibility to the alleged giant status of Goliath.
In general, the average size of inhabitants around that period was probably around five and a half feet. Accordingly, looking up to someone even a foot taller could certainly make for the stuff of legends. However, there has been nothing found to date from skeletal evidence that enhances the biblical account of Goliath’s giant status. But this find does provide intriguing evidence as to the monumental size of Philistine fortifications.
There are still a few more seasons of excavations left on this site, so it will be clearly be exciting awaiting further discoveries to come to light. Trail of the Ark feels that the results so far of this discovery can stand alone in strengthening the biblical account of a people known as the Philistines being extant in the region. While a tremendous amount of evidence has been compiled regarding the Philistine presence there, the sheer magnitude of the fortifications goes a long way in the process of trying to piece together a consequential period in the history of the Children of Israel.