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The biblical hometown of Goliath discovered in Israel, and the ruins are gigantic

Compiling Bible history is not an easy job, but archaeologists do it every day in Israel. And another piece of the puzzle came together in summer as a team found the hometown of Philistine hero Goliath.

We all know the story of David and Goliath. The Israelites and the Philistines fought and instead of sending their troops into battle, the Goliath Philistine soldier challenged every Israeli warrior to fight him in combat. Whoever wins the battle would win the war for his country. Nobody went out. But then David, who would later become an important Bible king, accepted the challenge.

Goliath was apparently a huge man, to whom David looked like a dwarf. But David knocked him down with a stone from his sling and cut off his head.

Later, David visits the hometown of Goliath, now known as Tel Es-Safi, and stares at the gate because he is very impressed by the massive fortifications and architecture of the Philistine settlement of the Iron Age.

According to Haarez:

“Gath is mentioned more than once in the Bible by each of the five major Philistine cities (the other four are Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza). Gath is said to have kept the covenant of the covenant briefly after the Philistines captured him from the Israelites (1 Samuel 5: 8), and it was there that David sought asylum twice from King Saul, eventually becoming the mercenary of the ruler of the city of Anchus ( 1 Kings 21 and 1 Kings 27). ”


The ancient city of Gath in front of the horizon.

Archaeologists have already found Ashkelon, where they conducted DNA tests and discovered that the Philistines were originally from Europe.

Another team of researchers, led by Bar-Ilan University professor Aren Mayer, have been digging the Gath site for years. The problem is that Gat is one of those places where people have built settlements on older settlements for centuries, making it difficult to find a specific time period. So the level that they believed was Goliath’s hometown originally was wrong. Because they have already found a level that coincides with the right time, and the ruins are massive enough for one to think that giants lived here.

“The revelation suggests that Gath was at the zenith of his own power much earlier than previously thought, which puts his heyday around the time when the city is heavily featured in the Bible story as a fierce rival of the early Israelites, as well as the hometown of Goliath and other extraordinary Bible warriors. ”

“During the summer excavation campaign, which ended last week, archaeologists decide to explore the foundations of spacious terraces located in the lower city of Gat, inhabited only during the Iron Age. Excavations reveal that these terraces lie on massive fortifications and larger buildings made of huge stones and baked bricks – a method that makes them healthier than traditional sun-dried mud bricks. ”


The ruins of Gath.

“I’ve been digging here for 25 years, but this place still surprises me,” Mayer says. “All the time we had this older, gigantic city, hidden just a meter below the city where we were digging. It was the largest Philistine city and probably one of the largest in the eastern Mediterranean during the Iron Age. There were larger cities just outside the eastern Mediterranean, such as Egypt and Mesopotamia. “

The later settlement, which was marched, was destroyed by the king of Syria, Hazael around 830 BC. during the Iron Age IIA. The earlier settlement they had just found, however, was even larger.

“Up until now, we thought that Iron City IIA – the one that was destroyed by Hazael – was the largest and most important period in Gath,” says Mayer. “This year, history is different.”

In some places these walls are four or more meters thick, and the ceramics associated with them date from the early Iron Age, to the 11th century BC. or probably earlier. “No comparatively colossal structures are known in the rest of the eastern Mediterranean of this period … or even the later incarnation of the Philistine Ghats,” says Mayer.


The ruins of Gath.

“Whatever it is, it’s huge,” Mayer added. “It’s as if Gat’s place during the early Iron Age made the later city look like a dwarf.”

And so many believe that the Philistines were great, though no skeletal remains were found to suggest such.

“Many biblical texts have to be understood as allegory,” Mayer says. “We dug several tombs in Gath and we definitely did not find any bones of particularly large people, so what is the origin of the legend that giants lived here? If there were huge wreckage around, this is the best way to start stories about giants.”

Professor Thomas Rohmer of the University of Lausanne agrees:

“We always have to be very careful about our interpretations, but that may be related to the size of Philistine cities like Gath and to this very impressive civilization that the Jews were familiar with,” says Rohmer. “When you confront such large structures, you have to explain them: so why not giants?”

Again, Gath was destroyed several times. It would be easy for later visitors to see the massive rubble and conclude that there must have been giant people living there, further perpetuating the stories of the Goliath giant, while he might not have been much bigger than David. People who wrote bible stories about Gath have done it centuries after these events happened. In addition, the inclusion of giants in history added excitement to the scriptures and made the Philistines look even uglier.

After all these centuries, it turns out that the only true giant was the city itself.

“We still don’t know very much why a new city was built on the old one, with different building orientations,” Mayer says. “But one thing is for sure – we are slowly awakening a sleeping giant.”

Probably the next excavation of the site will find a tomb with an inscription identifying it as belonging to Goliath himself. That would be an even bigger discovery.

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Ancient

What secrets of the Mayan queen were discovered by a new decoding of ancient records

The Maya are a mysterious people who built their civilization in Mexico long before the coming of the Aztecs. He left behind many books and other inscriptions. Archaeologists can now decipher the documents of the era, and each time new secrets are revealed to them.

An important discovery for Mexico

The city of Coba, once built by the Mayans on the Yucatan Peninsula, has long attracted the attention of archaeologists. It was a large polis, full of pyramidal temples with decorations and inscriptions and connected by many roads with other polis. 

Traces of culture have not yet been able to destroy even the local aggressive jungle, and archaeologists have struggled for decades to understand the history of the city itself and its place in the general history of the Maya.

To date, they have managed to reconstruct the dynasty of rulers of the city-state. It consisted of fourteen people who were in charge of the policy from about 500 to 780. ad. The dynasty was founded by a man named Junpik Tok, but most surprisingly, among the rulers is a woman known as Lady Yopaat.

What secrets of the Mayan queen was opened by a new decoding of ancient records
After the Maya, there are many drawings and inscriptions in stone.

To understand why this discovery is so significant, one must have an understanding of the cultures of America’s major civilizations.In almost all of them, women were in the same humiliated condition as in most cities of Ancient Greece. 

It seems that even the women of royal families were not perceived as something that special. Although it is known that the sisters of the Great Incas were their co-rulers, the ladies did not rule on their own even there. Until now, only three rulers were known on the territory of Mexico.

Archaeologists almost missed this chance

Archaeologist Maria José Con Uribe of the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico notes that the establishment of rulers and the sequence of their rule is important in order to understand the historical connections of Coba and other cities and regions.

 Fortunately, a lot of inscriptions dedicated to these rulers remained on the stone ruins of Koba (Mayan books are often so damaged that it is impossible to leaf through them for decoding).

Unfortunately, these ruins were in such a state that archaeologists did not dare to touch them for a long time, so as not to destroy them completely. Modern technology made it possible to study the inscriptions with minimal contact with the ruins that were decorated with letters. 

Deciphering the inscriptions was like a detective investigation. So, in order to better see the half-erased letters, they were photographed with lighting at different angles and then the photographs were superimposed on each other so that the shadows indicated contours that were already invisible to the eye. 

Often, it was impossible to come up to take a picture, and it was necessary to invent something. Archaeologists had to show a lot of ingenuity.

What secrets of the Mayan queen was opened by a new decoding of ancient records
Photo from the website of the institute.

Surprisingly, among the reasons why archaeologists took up the deciphering so late was also the belief that among the policies of this area there cannot be any where many hieroglyphs can be found. That is, scientists did not see the point in deploying large-scale research using the necessary technologies. 

They did not even try to find more inscriptions than they could be seen at a glance. The northern Mayan cities were considered “not very literate”, and new research refutes this long-held belief.

This resembles the situation with the drawings of primitive people in caves. As you know, archaeologists of the nineteenth century, working with cave sites of ancient Europeans, practically ignored these drawings, because they believed that for so long in the past people could not draw – so the multi-colored lines on the ceilings and walls of the caves cannot tell anything about their life. It took a long time for the drawings to attract the attention of scientists.

What the Mayan queens are known for

As for Yopaat, as far as archaeologists can judge, she ruled for quite a long time – about forty years – at the beginning of the seventh century and significantly strengthened the position and influence of her city in the region. That is, her rise and reign were not a brief episode in a series of violent upheavals, as was the case in some Muslim countries in the Middle Ages.

In addition to her, as you know, the warlike queen Kauil Ahau ruled in Kobe, but she already belongs to another, later dynasty. As you know, Kahuil Ahau, competing with the influence of Chichen Itza – another city-state – built the longest road of its era, and also conquered a polis called Yahuna.

What secrets of the Mayan queen was opened by a new decoding of ancient records
Image of Kahuil Ahau

Another famous ruler is considered Mistress Cable, or Mistress Lily Hands, who ruled at about the same time as Kauil Ahau, but in Calakmula. She reigned for about twenty years. 

Although there were no high-profile cases during her reign, the city flourished under her leadership. Two more Maya queens bore the romantic names Mistress of the Heart of the Windy Place and Mistress of the Sixth Heaven.

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How the Egyptians worshiped a god with a reptilian head and why they needed thousands of crocodile mummies

Photo: Getty images

The deification of animals and the forces of nature is a common feature of all ancient civilizations, but some cults make a particularly strong impression on modern man. In the era of the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, the role of sacred animals was assigned to perhaps the most repulsive and terrible creatures on the planet – the Nile crocodiles.

Sebek – god-crocodile, ruler of the Nile

The role of the Nile in the development of the culture of Ancient Egypt cannot be overestimated – this river determined the very existence of the peoples who settled along its banks. Stretching nearly seven thousand kilometers from south to north, the Nile fed the Egyptians, the floods of the river ensured good harvests in the fields adjacent to the river, and the absence of spills doomed people to hunger. Since the time of the pharaohs, there have been special structures – nilomers, whose purpose was to determine the level of the river to predict the next harvest.

Nilomer

It is not surprising, therefore, the desire to earn the favor of such powerful forces, giving a special ritual character to interaction with a permanent inhabitant of the Nile and, to some extent, with its owner – a crocodile. By the behavior and movement of these animals, the Egyptians, among other things, determined the arrival of floods.

God Sebek (or Sobek), who was portrayed as a man with the head of a crocodile, is one of the most ancient and main gods of the Egyptian pantheon. He was recognized not only as the ruler of the Nile and the lord of its floods, bestowing fertility and abundance, but also as a deity, personifying time, eternity. Sebek was portrayed with the head of a crocodile and in a magnificent crown.

God Sebek

City of Gadov

The cult of Sebek was especially vividly manifested in Crocodilopolis, or the City of Reptiles, located southwest of the ancient capital of Egypt, Memphis. The name “Crocodilopolis” was given to the settlement by the Greeks who came to these lands in the 4th century BC with Alexander the Great. The Egyptians themselves called this city Shedit (Shedet).

El Fayyum – an oasis in the desert

Located in the Fayyum oasis, a wide valley famous for its fertility throughout Ancient Egypt, near Lake Merida, Shedit became a place of worship for the god Sebek and his living incarnations – crocodiles.

In the 19th century BC, the pharaoh of the XII dynasty Amenemkhet III built a pyramid for himself near the city of Shedit. Adjacent to the pyramid was the Labyrinth – a sacred structure that has not survived to this day, a temple complex where Sobek’s son Petsuhos lived.

Which of the crocodiles will be honored to become a divine offspring was determined by the priests – according to rules that are currently unknown.

The crocodile lived in the Labyrinth, where, in addition to the pond and sand, there were many rooms located at different levels – according to ancient sources, in particular, according to the stories of Herodotus, the number of rooms allegedly reached several thousand. The estimated area of ​​rooms and passages of the Labyrinth reached 70 thousand square meters.

Pyramid of Amenemhat III

Serving the crocodile

The priests offered Petsuhos meat, bread and honey, wine as food, and the one who accidentally became a victim of the crocodile’s mouth acquired divine status himself, his remains were embalmed and placed in a sacred tomb. Drinking water from the pond in which such a crocodile lived was considered a great success and provided the protection of the deity.

After the death of “Sebek’s son,” his body was mummified and buried nearby. In total, several thousand of these mummies were discovered, in particular, at the Kom el-Breigat cemetery. The new incarnation of the god was the crocodile, chosen by the same priests.

Mummies of sacred crocodiles

The information about the crocodile cult in Shedite that has survived to our time is extremely scarce and is based, as a rule, on the notes of the Greeks who visited here. The ancient scientist Strabo, who visited Egypt in the first century BC, left the following memories:

Our host, one of the officials who initiated us there in the mysteries, came with us to the lake, taking from dinner some kind of cake, fried meat and a jug of wine mixed with honey. We found the crocodile lying on the shore of the lake. When the priests approached the animal, one of them opened its mouth, and the other stuck a cake there, then meat, and then poured the honey mixture. Then the animal jumped into the lake and swam to the other side. But when another stranger approached, also carrying with him an offering of the firstfruits, the priests took gifts from him; then they ran around the lake and, finding the crocodile, in the same way gave the animal the food they had brought“.

Image of a priest feeding a sacred crocodile

Under Ptolemy II, Crocodilopolis was renamed Arsinoe – in honor of the ruler’s wife.

El-Fayyum is one of the least studied areas of Egypt by archaeologists, so it is possible that in the foreseeable future additional arguments will be received to confirm or refute the legends about the Crocodilopolis Labyrinth.

Nevertheless, the cult of the crocodile god Sebek can be traced in other areas of Ancient Egypt – in particular, in Kom Ombo, a city that used to be called Nubet, there is a temple dedicated to Sebek, where a demonstration of crocodile mummies has been open since 2012. from nearby burials.

Temple of Kom Ombo

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Figures of mysterious creatures found in 10,000-year-old graves in Jordan

Photo: Kharaysin archaeological team / Antiquity Publications Ltd

When excavating in Jordan, an international team from the Kharaysin archaeological team research project discovered dozens of strange Neolithic figures who were in burials about 10 thousand years old.

An article about this discovery is published in Antiquity magazine. Figurines are found which date from the middle of the ninth millennium BC. This era is known as the Early Neolithic. At that time, iconography was just beginning to spread in the Middle East. New research will help to understand how it developed.

The burials mentioned above are located on the archaeological site of Haraisin in the Zarka River Valley. A group of archaeologists from Spain, France and the UK worked there. It was led by Dr. Juan José Ibáñez.

“We were digging burial grounds, a cemetery,” Ibáñez said. “We know very well the tools that were made in that period.”

Discovered artifacts look like flint tools of ancient people. However, most of these items were found in burials, which is not typical of flint tools. Scientists have suggested that artifacts were sacred. That is, they were deliberately laid in the graves along with the deceased during funeral rituals.

The artifacts were carefully analyzed. As a result, the researchers saw them as “human forms.” The upper pair of recesses is a narrowing to indicate the neck, and the lower one to indicate the waist. A similar “violin-shaped contour” was previously observed in two figures of the same period, found in Haraisin and made of fired clay. This indicates that artifacts are Neolithic figurines. Who exactly did they represent?

“When one of the team members first suggested that artifacts are figurines depicting people, we were skeptical,” says Ibáñez. However, the team has since been convinced that these are images of people, although rude. “They made two notches on one side, one probably representing the neck and the other representing the thigh.”

There is a version that these were primitive images of deities. In subsequent periods of time, the practice of making anthropomorphic figures of deities became widespread. For example, in Europe during the excavations, “Venus” figures were found more than once, whose age was estimated at thousands of years.

Perhaps the statuettes found in Jordan were the result of the first attempts to create divine sculptures. By the way, all the Neolithic figurines found by this mission have various shapes and sizes.

In their article, the authors write that artifacts could be cult objects, including “vehicles of magic,” which were used in rituals. But they pay attention to the fact that some of the finds were made not in the graves, but in ordinary pits.

It is possible that these figurines were for some reason thrown away. For example, they could be thrown out after the rite is completed. Or they were simply rejected. There is one more explanation – the figures could be used as children’s toys or as visual exhibits when teaching rituals.

The discovery also proves that “psychological and social shifts” occurred in people upon transition to a sedentary lifestyle and farming. In particular, they probably had ideas about the afterlife.

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