Remains of Samson’s City Found -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 06:4 (Autumn 1977)
Article: Remains of Samson’s City Found
Author: Anonymous

Remains of Samson’s City Found

The site of Samson’s city of Timnah, where he courted Delilah and slew a lion, has been uncovered by archaeologists working in collaboration with the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology. The team recently concluded its first season of excavations at Tel Batash in the Sorek Valley, seven kilometers west of Beit Shemesh.

The dig revealed a Canaanite city which was destroyed by a tremendous fire near the end of the late Bronze Age (circa. 1200 B.C.) The remains found included a part of a large public building and a defensive city wall. Among the finds were a Canaanite cylinder seal, bronze tools and weapons, and typical Canaanite pottery vessels.

On the ruins of the Canaanite city, remains of Philistine occupation were discovered. Floors, ovens, silos, and typical Philistine pottery sherds were recovered. Special finds included a Philistine conical stamp seal and a clay moulded bull-head. This occupation may be identified with the Philistine city of Timnah, well-known in the Samson stories in the Book of Judges.

During the latter part of the Iron Age (the period of the Israelite monarchy — tenth to seventh centuries B.C.), a fortified city existed on the site. A massive, four-meter wide city wall and the city gate were exposed during the excavations.

The city gate was a large complex about 16 meters square. On both sides of the wide central passage, three piers created guard rooms. The gate was destroyed and reconstructed according to a modified plan towards the end of the Israelite period. A well-protected ramp led to the city gate along the eastern slope of the tel.

The importance of this border city between Philistia and Judea is emphasized in the Biblical account of its capture by the Philistines during the reign of King Ahaz, and its mention in the account of Sennacherib’s campaign through Philistia in 701 B.C.

The expedition was sponsored by an institutional consortium, including New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Mississippi College and Louisiana College, in collaboration with the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology. It was under the direction of

Dr. George L. Kelm, and Mr. Amihai Mazar. The four-week project was conducted with a 40-member staff and volunteers from Israel and the United States.

Research on the site is to be continued and expanded during a projected six-year program.

(Reprinted by permission from the August 23, 1977 issue of The Jerusalem Post International Edition.)

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