A large palace-like building discovered in the biblical city of Gezer could reportedly back up at least some descriptions found in the Old Testament.
The building, which includes a large courtyard and is bigger than typical homes found from the same era, possibly dates back to the 10th century B.C. during King Solomon's reign and is being dubbed "Solomon's Palace," according to Haaretz.
The city of Gezer was home to the Canaanites and was once burned down by the Egyptians. But it is believed, based on Old Testament scriptures, that the Philistines also had an attachment to the city — an idea recent discoveries at the site could now bolster.
"Gezer was continuously occupied from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic Period," reads a description on the Gezer Excavation Project website. "It is one of three cities fortified by Solomon (1 Kings 9:16-17). Gezer is a 33-acre site."
In addition to discovering the palace-like structure, archaeologists also uncovered a layer of Philistine pottery as well as a fragment of what they believe is the so-called Ashdod figurine, a female figure with a bird face that is associated with Philistine remnants in other excavations, Haaretz reported.
The Old Testament seems to show that the Philistines were in Gezer during King David's time. Both 2 Samuel 5:25 and 1 Chronicles 14:16, in fact, mention the Philistines as having connections to Gezer.
2 Samuel 5:25 discusses King David's conquering of the Philistines, reading, "So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer," with 1 Chronicles 14:16 saying the same.
Steve Ortiz, a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, who co-directs excavations at the site, told Haaretz that experts believe Gezer was primarily a Canaanite city, but the Philistines either lived there or had deep trade relations with the Canaanites from 1200-600 B.C.
"Gezer sits at an important crossroads," Ortiz said. "By location, it was an important border city."
The city again appears in 1 Kings 9:16-17, among other scriptures, where it is said the Egyptian pharaoh attacked and captured the city, set it on fire, killed the Canaanites living there and then gave it as a gift to his daughter, who was Solomon's wife; verse 17 says Solomon then rebuilt it.
The palatial building also features some evidence of destruction some believe could have resulted when Egyptian pharaoh Shishak invaded Israel in 925 B.C., an event recorded in 2 Chronicles 12:1-12, New Historian reported.
Some of the other elements found, including carvings and amulets, seemed to show that Gezer had some wealth.
But while some might jump and make the connection between the palace-like structure and the events in the Bible, archaeologist Sam Wolff, who works for the Israel Antiquities Authority and serves as co-director at the site, told Haaretz that dating of the site is preliminary.
"Our 10th century date is tentative, pending further study of the ceramic assemblage and the results of carbon 14 analyses," he said. "Others may claim that the pottery we are calling 10th century is in fact 9th century."
This is hardly the first time archaeological findings have shed potential light on the Bible. Other recent findings show the clothing that was worn during biblical eras, among other elements of the time. Experts also unearthed what they said was the gate to the biblical city of Gath last year — Goliath's hometown.
And as I recently reported, archaeologists have uncovered a Philistine cemetery near the ancient city of Ashkelon in Israel. It is believed that the finding, which was first discovered in 2013 but was kept secret until recently, will offer clues and information about the cultural practices of the Philistines.
While the Philistines have a notable role in some portions of the Old Testament, not much is known about their practices and background. The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, the group that found the remains, hopes to change that.
"After decades of studying what the Philistines left behind, we have finally come face to face with the people themselves," Daniel M. Master, co-director of the expedition, said of the cemetery. “With this discovery, we are close to unlocking the secrets of their origins.”
The hope is radiocarbon tests and bone samples will help experts determine where the Philistines originated.