In addition to the rare statuette of the Canaanite god, archaeologists from Macquarie University have also found the bronze statue of a calf. The ancient city is believed to be linked to the story of King David. The artifacts discovered at the archeological dig date back some 3,300 years. The archeological site covers an area of around 1.7 hectares.
As noted in the Bible, the city of Siclag is given to David—famous for slaying the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17)—by the Philistine king Achish of Gath. By becoming king, David made Siclag one of the main cities of the emerging kingdom of the Jews. The true location of this city remained unknown for centuries. Since 2018, Siclag is believed to be Khirbet el-Rai, the location where archeologists have made the recent findings.
Archeologists say that the ancient city’s true location has remained unknown for centuries, that is, until now. The exact location of Ziklag has been a highly debated subject among experts, with as many as 12 potential archeological sites being hailed as the ancient city’s true location.
“Our site is chronologically the right time period and as we’ve excavated and discovered how significant this site was from a political and economic and geographical stance, we sought to identify it with a biblical site,” explains Dr. Kyle Keimer.
“When we go on an archaeological excavation, we have high hopes and low expectations but of course it’s wonderful when we make exciting finds,” revealed Dr. Gil Davis, Director of the Ancient Israel Program at Macquarie University. “We dream of making discoveries that will change our understanding of a significant part of the ancient past.”
Excavations have revealed cultural layers dating to the XII-X centuries B.C., “which covers the city’s Canaanite foundation and rule by the Philistines as well as the Israelite Kingdom of Judah.”
Researchers also found evidence of bricks, traces of burned wood, and many fire-damaged ceramic vessels. This coincides with the biblical story that the city was attacked and burned by the Amalekites.
Archaeologists believe that the new discoveries confirm that the excavated settlement is the Biblical city of King David. The study of the cultural layers clearly shows that the Philistine period was relatively short which is consistent with the biblical narrative. Excavations have also found oil and wine storage vessels, Canaanite inscriptions, oil lamps, and a portable shrine among other ancient objects.
The archaeologists have also discovered the remains of a series of superimposed monumental buildings and several residential buildings. One of the oldest monumental buildings found has a room full of burned bones and religious objects, including some imported from Cyprus. “Such objects and architecture indicate that there was a complex society in this city with extensive international connections,” the researchers noted.
According to Professor Yossi Garfinkel, Head of the Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the scientific partnership with Macquarie University has allowed them to excavate on a much larger scale than usual. “Most of the discoveries at this site are thanks to the cooperation of Macquarie University,” Professor Garfinkel revealed.