The Israeli Antiquities Authority, Hebrew University in Yerushalayim and Macquarie University of Sydney, Australia, have announced the discovery of what they believe is the biblical city of Ziklag, the Philistine city in which according to the Torah a young Dovid Hamelech took refuge from Shaul.
Ziklag is mentioned in the Torah multiple times in relationship to Dovid, who the Torah states received sanctuary in the city along with his army, with the permission of Achish, King of Gat. The site is also believed to be the place from which Dovid left to journey to Chevron, where he was anointed as melech Yisrael and ruled for seven years before ascending to Yerushalayim.
Later on, Ziklag is mentioned in the Nechemiah as a center for Jews returning from the galus.
Over the years of archaeological searches for the city, numerous alternative locations were proposed but none met all the required criteria. The excavations at the current site, called Khirbet a-Ra’i, began in 2015 and uncovered some 10,700 square feet in the Judean foothills between Kiryat Gat and Lachish, according to the press release put out by the IAA and the Hebrew University.
Researchers say the location is unique because it contains evidence of continuous settlement, including signs of a Philistine community and Dovid Hamelech-era Jewish settlement, in keeping with the required criteria for Ziklag. Moreover, the site shows evidence of having been destroyed by a massive fire, which is how Jewish Ziklag was brought down at the hands of the Amalekites.
Findings at the site include massive stone structures with bowl- and oil-lamp offerings beneath the floors, consistent with Philistine civilization.
Nearly 100 pottery vessels for storing oil and wine, identical to those found in the fortified Judean city of Khirbet Qeiyafa, which has been identified as the ancient city of Sha’arayim, were also located amid evidence of the ancient fire at the site and carbon-dated to the time of Dovid Hamelech.
The findings were made possible through the funding of Joey Silver of Jerusalem, Aron Levy of New Jersey and the Roth Family and Isaac Wakil, both of Sydney.