An archaeological dig now in its 20th year has uncovered the entrance gate to Gath, the ancient Biblical city of the Philistines and onetime home of the giant Goliath. Before the king of Damascus destroyed it in 830 BCE, Gath was the largest city in the land for hundreds of years, reports the Jerusalem Post.
The Bible refers to the massive city gate itself, in the story of David’s escape from King Saul to the king of Gath. In addition to the city gate, scientists have also unearthed an “impressive fortification wall,” several buildings that include a temple and iron production facility, and what the Post calls the earliest “decipherable” Philistine inscription ever found—which contains two names similar to “Goliath.”
“After finding a huge fortification, it’s clearly the most important city of the 10th and ninth centuries,” says the archaeologist in charge of the dig, per i24. The long-term dig is part of the Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath, a look at the archaeology and history of one of the largest “tells” (aka ancient ruin mounds) in Israel.
The area in central Israel, in the Tel Zafit National Park in the Judean Foothills, has been inhabited almost continuously since the 5th millennium BCE, the researchers note in a press release. (Also recently discovered in Israel? A mask unlike any other.)