BAR 33:03, May/Jun 2007
In our March/April 2006 issue, we published a picture of an inscribed pottery sherd found at Philistine Gath (Tell es-Safi) in an expedition led by Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University. According to Maeir this is the oldest Philistine inscription ever discovered—from the tenth–ninth century B.C.E. The inscription contains two names that, according to Maeir, may be linguistically related to Goliath, who hailed from Gath, according to the Bible. Although the names on the sherd do not refer to the Biblical Goliath, Maeir emphasizes, the inscription does show that the name was in circulation at the time. According to Maeir, the language of the inscription is Philistine, but the letters are Semitic, probably appropriated by the Philistines from the locals when the Philistines settled on what is now the southern Mediterranean coast of Israel.