They discovered a Philistine temple, as well as evidence of a powerful earthquake, during excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, the Biblical “Gath of the Philistines.”
The archaeological site, one of the most important in Israel, is in the southern coastal plain, not far from Kiryat Gat, about half-way between Jerusalem and Ashkelon. It was settled almost continuously from the 5th millennium BCE until modern times.
Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University’s Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology announced the discoveries in July, along with a number of ritual items, dating back to the Iron Age (10th century BCE).
Maeir, who has directed the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath for 13 years, commented that with its two central pillars, the Philistine temple, “… is reminiscent of the architectural image that is described in the well-known Biblical story of Samson and the Philistines, when Samson knocks down the temple by standing between the pillars and pushing them down.” He says this may indicate that such temples were common in Philistia at the time.
The team, comprising participants from the US, Canada, Australia, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, UK, Holland, Poland and Israel, also found impressive evidence of an earthquake in the 8th century BCE, reminiscent of the one mentioned in the Book of Amos I:1, which they assessed at a magnitude of eight on the Richter scale.