A dig led by the Israeli Antiquities Authority unearthed what they believe is the biblical city of Ziklag where David took refuge from King Saul. The remains of several buildings and artifacts from the Philistine-era were discovered underneath a burnt settlement from the time of King David.
According to ancient biblical texts, the Philistines ruled the central and southern part of Israel and the Gaza Strip, and were feared by the Israelites. David (who wasn’t a king yet) ended up seeking refuge with the Philistines from King Saul who was trying to kill him. However, when King Saul heard that David was being protected by Philistine King Achish of Gath, “he sought him no more”.
The city of Ziklag was given to David as a gift from the Philistine king. However, while David was away fighting with the Philistine army, the city was burnt down by Amalekite raiders. They enslaved the residents of Ziklag as retaliation for an attack conducted on the Kingdom of Israel. David would later become the second king of Israel.
The exact location of the city has been debated over the years, as twelve previous locations around the southern part of Israel were thought to have been the site of Ziklag. But none of the previous sites proved to have had Philistine and Israelite settlements. Now, however, with the most recent discovery at the Khirbet Al-Rai site in the central part of Israel (close to Kiryat Gat), the mystery surrounding the exact location of the ancient biblical city may finally be solved.
“It is not 100 percent sure, but I think it’s 90 percent that this was biblical Ziklag,” archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University stated to UPI.
Excavations began in 2015 and since then archaeologists have unearthed artifacts from the Philistine civilization in addition to pottery vessels from the same time that the biblical King lived. They have dug in three primary locations on the site which covers an area of 10,764 square feet in total. The date of the remains is believed to have been from between the 12th and 11th centuries BC.
According to Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, four houses have been unearthed so far and one of those homes contained over 1,500 tools that were used to cut wheat. Other discovered artifacts include statues, vessels, storage jars (for oil and wine), and other different types of pottery from the Philistine culture. In fact, they match previous Philistine-era artifacts that were recovered from Ashdod, Ekron, Ashkelon, and Gath.
You can see pictures here of some of the artifacts that were uncovered.