Tag Archives: Elah Fortress

Archaeologist thinks he has located Shaaraim

To most folks this probably evokes a yawn. To me it is exciting. We have reported earlier here and here about the excavation at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a site overlooking the Elah Valley. The San Francisco Chronicle, in an article by Matthew Kalman, reports that Prof. Garfinkel will announce today that he has found the site of the biblical city of Shaaraim (this is the way popular English versions transliterate the Hebrew word).

For 3,000 years, the 12-foot high walls of an ancient city have been clearly visible on a hill towering above the Valley of Elah where the Bible says David slew Goliath.

But no one has ever linked the ruins to the city mentioned in the First Book of Samuel’s famous account of the legendary duel and the victory of the Israelites – until now. On Tuesday, Hebrew University archaeology Professor Yosef Garfinkel will present compelling evidence to scholars at Harvard University that he has found the 10th century biblical city of Sha’arayim, Hebrew for “Two Gates.” Garfinkel, who made his startling discovery at the beginning of this month, will also discuss his findings at the American Schools of Oriental Research conference hosted by Boston University on Thursday.

Garfinkel believes the city provides evidence that King David ruled a kingdom from his capital of Jerusalem. Some modern scholars have questioned the biblical account of David’s kingdom and even whether he existed. Although it is not clear how the Sha’arayim relates to David, Garfinkel says finding a Judean city along the ancient highway to Jerusalem that appears to have been a fortress on the western border with the Philistines indicates a kingdom with a developed political and military organization that was powerful enough to include a major fortified city.

The Bible makes reference to Shaaraim in the following verses:

  • Joshua 15:36 – a town of Judah.
  • 1 Samuel 17:52 -After David’s defeat of Goliath, “the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron” (ESV).
  • 1 Chronicles 4:31 – belonged to the descendants of Simeon until the reign of David.

This photograph of the ostracon is found at the Qeiyafa Ostracon Chronicle web page. Only 10 of 50 words on the shard have yet been read.

Qeiyafa Ostracon. Photo by G. Laro.

Qeiyafa Ostracon. Photo by G. Laro.

Check the Elah Fortress web page for a nice high res. promotional video. The video claims that the Bedouin who tend their sheep in the area call the ruin Khirbet Daoud (Ruin of David).

Bedouin shepherd in the Elah brook in the area below Khirbet Qeiyafa, Elah Fortress, or Khirbet Daoud. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bedouin shepherd in the Elah brook in the area below Khirbet Qeiyafa, Elah Fortress, or Khirbet Daoud. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.