(JPost) Researchers from a joint expedition between the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, believe that they have discovered the famous biblical city of Ziklag, a Philistine city where a young David sought refuge from King Saul.

The excavation began in 2015 at the Khirbet al-Ra’i site, located between Kiryat Gat and Lachish, and was led by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

About 1,000 square meters were excavated, and the find revealed evidence of Philistine settlement dating from the 11th-12th century BCE. Large stone structures were uncovered, including finds characteristic of Philistine culture. Stone vessels and metal vessels found on the site are similar to finds from this period, discovered in the past in excavations of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron and Gat, all ancient Philistine cities.

To date, several sites were suggested by archaeologists attempting to find Ziklag, such as Tel Halif near Kibbutz Lahav, Tel Shara in the western Negev, and Tel Sheva. However, according to the researchers, “in all of these sites there was no settlement continuity, including both a Philistine settlement and a settlement from the time of David. In the site at Khirbet al-Ra’i evidence of both settlements were found.”

A rural settlement from the time of King David, dating to the beginning of the 10th century BCE , was discovered above the remains of the Philistine settlement, which was destroyed by a fire. There were dozens of complete pottery vessels found in the remains of buildings, identical to those found in the fortified Jewish city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, also excavated by Prof. Garfinkel, which was discovered in the Judean foothills and is identified with the biblical She’arayim.

Large amounts of jars, which were used to store oil and wine, were discovered during the excavation. Also found were food bowls, jugs and other vessels decorated in a style which is typical of the era of David.

The name Ziklag throws up clues as to the origin of its inhabitants. It is not a local Semitic name but a Philistine name, further proof that the Philistines were not native to the area but migrated to the land of Israel from Europe.

Ziklag is mentioned several times in the Bible, most famously in the Book of Samuel, when the young David is granted refuge from King Saul by the Philistine King Achish of Gat. David appears to have been awarded Ziklag as a vassal state, under the protection of Achish, and he used it as a base for raids against the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites. According to the Book of Samuel, the city was destroyed by the Amalekites and the population was enslaved.

After King Saul is killed in battle with the Philistines, David leaves Ziklag to travel to Hebron to be anointed King of Israel.

After a 12-year archaeological study of the entire region, Prof. Garfinkel believes the finds he has discovered at Ziklag and Khirbet Qeiyafa are consistent with scriptural references to the geography of the area.

The project was funded by Joey Silver of Jerusalem, Aaron Levy of New Jersey, and the Roth family and Isaac Wakil of Sydney.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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