for National Geographic News
The remains of an ancient gate have pinpointed the location of the biblical city Sha'arayim, say archaeologists working in Israel.
In the Bible young David, a future king, is described as battling Goliath in the Elah Valley near Sha'arayim.
The fortified gate at the Elah Fortress—the second to be found at the site—proves the existence of Sha'arayim, which means "two gates" in Hebrew, said Hebrew University archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel.
"All the sites from this period uncovered so far had only one gate. We have two gates and this is very unusual," Garfinkel said.
The gate, constructed of stones weighing up to ten tons, is located on the site's eastern side, facing Jerusalem.
Evidence of King David
The discovery is the second recent find to be made at the Elah Fortress—known as Khirbet Qeiyafa in Arabic—which is located near the present-day Israeli city of Bet Shemesh.
In October, Garfinkel revealed a 3,000-year-old pottery shard with text believed to be Hebrew—then hailed as the most important archaeological discovery in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Initial carbon-14 dating of olive pits found at the site, as well as analysis of pottery remains, placed the text to between 1000 and 975 B.C.—the time King David would have lived.
(Explore a time line of early Christianity.)
Garfinkel believes the discovery provides further evidence that the fortified city or outpost was part of a centralized governmental system administered by King David, head of the Kingdom of Israel.
The fortress is the first site found from the Iron Age in what was once territory controlled by King David.
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