Philistine and Israelite Religion at Tell es-Safi/Gath

Watch two videos with excavation director Aren Maeir

This article was originally published on October 31, 2012. It has been updated.—Ed.

Over the past few years, excavations at Tell es-Safi have exposed some remarkable cultic discoveries, including a horned altar, featured as the Prize Find in BAR’s 2012 Dig Issue.* How does an archaeologist interpret ancient remnants of religion and cult? In the video below, Bar-Ilan University professor and Tell es-Safi/Gath excavation director Aren Maeir describes how archaeologists use small finds to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at ancient religion:



Learn more in the BAS Library:

* Aren M. Maeir, “Prize Find: Horned Altar from Tell es-Safi Hints at Philistine Origins,Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2012.

Carl S. Ehrlich and Aren M. Maeir, “Excavating Philistine Gath: Have We Found Goliath’s Hometown?Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 2001.

Aren M. Maeir, “Did Captured Ark Afflict Philistines with E.D.?Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2008.

Aren M. Maeir, “Archaeological Views: Is Biblical Archaeology Passé?Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 2007.


Learn more in Bible History Daily:

Where Did the Philistines Come From?

Video Interview with Tell es-Safi/Gath’s Aren Maeir

Iron Age Gate and Fortifications Uncovered at Philistine Gath

Adornment in the Southern Levant

As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.

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  • Varghese says

    “It is more than probable that the Kreti of the “Kreti and Pleti”
    (Cherethites and Pelethites) bodyguard of David (II Samuel 8:18),
    led by his marshal Benaiah, were the same Kari In one place in the
    Scriptures (II Samuel 20:23) it is said that Benaiah was in command
    of Kari (or Kre) and Pleti. The Philistines, since days of old,
    have been considered the Kreti-Pleti. The word “Pleti” is generally
    regarded as a shortened form of “Philistines,” and without sufficient
    ground they have been presumed to be the same people as the Kreti,
    and thus originated the theory that the Philistines came from
    Crete.17 Pleti cannot be identical with Kreti or Kari, because whenever
    they are mentioned the two names are always connected by
    “and.”” —- Quote from Ages in Chaos by Dr. Velikovsky

  • Varghese says

    Bible says in Gen 10:13-14 that Philistines came from Egypt “Egypt fathered …, the Casluhites; from which came the Philistines..” Egypt is not in Europe last time I looked at the map. What the hell is going one in Gath!

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