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Archaeologists Uncover Philistine Temple

8 August, 20108 August, 2010 0 comments Biblical Archaeology Biblical Archaeology

While not the exact temple destroyed by Samson, archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a Philistine temple that dates back to the 10th century BC that could typify the type of structure Samson brought down with his God-given supernatural strength as told in Judges 16.
Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar Ilan University said he and his team of international volunteers have discovered a Philistine temple and a number of ritual items dating back to the Iron Age.

“We found a structure that we have been slowly exposing over the last few seasons,” Maeir told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. “What is unique about this temple is there are two large pillar bases situated 2 meters away from each other. That immediately rings the bell of the story of Samson.”

The temple of Dagon, the one Samson knocked over, was located in present-day Gaza, Maeir said. Finding this temple, however, is reminiscent of the time of Samson and the biblical narrative.

“It adds flesh on the bones or color on the story to the biblical story,” he said. “Even if you don’t believe if it happened ... the story resonates cultural authenticity (through the archaeology).”

The excavations at Tel Zafit National Park have been ongoing for 15 years. This year, the team also found evidence of an earthquake in the 8th century BC, possibly the one mentioned in the Book of Amos.

“In several parts of the excavation we found buildings that collapsed,” Maeir said.

holy land, archaeology philistine, templeHe explained how an exposed brick wall, more than 2 meters high, was toppled over. Seismologists estimate that the energy for such a fall can only be caused by a major earthquake. The destruction of the wall was dated in the mid-8th century BC and coincides with the earthquake mentioned in Amos 1:1.

Excavations have also uncovered evidence of the destruction of the city by King Hazael of Damascus, around 830 BC, as mentioned in 2 Kings 12, as well as evidence of the first Philistine settlement in Canaan, circa 1200 BC, and different levels of the Canaanite city of Gath.

The park is located in the southern coastal plain of Israel, between Jerusalem and Ashkelon.  It is open to visitors and includes a nature trail with a view to half of country, archaeology finds and a window into the nature of land of Israel.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project is a long-term investigation aimed at studying the archaeology and history of one of the most important sites in Israel. It is one of the largest ancient ruin mounds in Israel and was settled almost continuously from the 5th century BC until modern times. Maeir blogs about the findings and other items at gath.wordpress.com.
Participants in this summer's dig hail from the US, Canada, Australia, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Holland, Poland, and Israel.  Maier said volunteers are welcome to join the dig every summer.

“It is an enjoyable, enriching experience,” he said. “In the 14 years I’ve been doing this, of the hundreds of volunteers that have come through, I have yet to hear someone say, ‘I did not enjoy this.’”

For more information on how you can volunteer, visit the Tell es-Safi/Gath website.

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy  Land.


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