Israeli archaeologists have discovered an arrowhead that is believed to have been part of a battle near the ancient city of Gath, the biblical home of Goliath.
The study, which was published in Near Eastern Archaeology, notes that the arrowhead, which was made from animal bone, was initially discovered in 2019 and was likely crafted in a workshop just 1,000 feet from where it was found.
According to The Christian Post, researchers explained why bones were chosen in the creation of the arrowheads.
“These bones were specifically selected for the job given their large size from which multiple points could be made, and their thick layer of hard, compact bone that was cut following the length of the bone, that is, its longitudinal axis,” the researchers wrote. “This would make the artifacts extremely robust and capable of withstanding impact.”
In looking at the arrowhead, the researchers believed that it was likely used in battle as it has a broken point and there is a “clear impact fracture” at the tip.
“All parts of the Tell eṣ-Ṣafi/Gath point are present,” they said. “However, micro-wear analysis of the object duplicates the damage pattern found by Knecht with a clear impact fracture (i.e., a scar) on the tip of the Tell eṣ-Ṣafi/Gath arrowhead.”
“There are also micro-striations within the scar that were created as a result of the force when it made contact with its target. Moreover, the point had been broken close to the mid-shaft, perhaps as a result of this impact. These results demonstrate that the arrowhead had been used and had hit a target.”
Gath, which was one of five Philistine states, is associated with Goliath, the Philistine giant, who was defeated by David in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 17). David, who later became Israel’s king, captures Gath in 1 Chronicles 18.
In 2 Chronicles 11, David’s grandson Rehoboam strengthens the city as a means of defense for the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. As highlighted in 2 Kings 12:17-18, Gath would be captured by King Hazael of Damascus around 830 B.C. before setting his sights on Jerusalem.
Furthermore, archaeological excavations at Gath in modern-day Israel show that the ancient city was destroyed in the ninth century B.C., around the same time as Hazael’s invasion.
Aren Maeir, a professor of archaeology at Bar-Ilan University and leader of the expedition at Tell es-Safi, told Haaretz that the usage of bones in arrowheads was less common in the Iron Age as they were less effective than metal.
“In many cultures, you have bone projectile points, but as you move into a metal-oriented society, they disappear,” Maeir said.
“The common arrowhead in the Iron Age was made of bronze and iron. Here and there, you still find bone points, but they are not very common … It shows the dramatic moments of the end of the city and the desperate measures they were taking to make weapons that could help in its defense,” he added.
In 2015, archaeologists discovered the remains of a large gate and wall, bringing to light Gath’s practices and its defenses.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/MJ0007, this is a stock photo.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.