Magnitude 8 earthquake hits Gath

Tell es-Safi/Gath is a Philistine city currently being excavation under the direction of Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar Ilan University. The 2010 excavation season is over and we are learning more information about some of the discoveries this year.

The second image is of the very impressive collapse of a large brick wall that was found in Area F (near the summit of the tell). This wall, which appears to be over 20 m in length, was moved laterally about 2 meters, and then toppled. Based on the tight stratigraphic context, this can be dated to the mid-8th cent. BCE (above the 9th cent. destruction level, followed by level of wind-blown sediment, then the collapse and then 2, late 8th cent. levels). After discussing this with seismologists, it has been agreed upon that this in fact could have only have been caused by an earthquake, perhaps one of major force (ca. 8 on the Richter scale). Based on the dating of this event to the early/mid eighth century, it may very likely be evidence of the earthquake mentioned in Amos 1:1 (and perhaps also in Isaiah 6:4). Here is a picture of the collapse. Notice how bricks were moved off the stone foundation and then toppled over as a “deck of cards”.

Read the entire report, along with a hi-res image, here. Scroll back through the blog to see other discoveries this year.

tell-es-saf/Gath brick wall destroyed in earthquake

Brick wall at Gath destroyed by earthquake. Photo: Bar Ilan University.

The earthquake revealed here may be the one mentioned by the prophet Amos. The earthquake was so significant that the prophet dated the reception of his prophecy “two years before the earthquake.”

The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. (Amos 1:1 ESV)

After considering some of the evidence for the date of the work of Amos, Hubbard says,

“For Amos’ ministry, then, a date between 760 and 755 BC seems to have gained almost unanimous support among scholars. (Joel & Amos, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, 90).

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