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In the news: between August 3 - 17, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the media between August 3 - 17, 2015

KU professor and students help uncover gate to ancient biblical city - KSNT

The entrance gate and fortification wall to the ancient biblical city of Gath were uncovered with the help of a University of Kansas professor and three of his students. The group is part of an archaeological excavation that made the discovery this summer.

Eric Welch is a visiting assistant professor of Jewish studies working on the Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University’s expedition to Gath. The city in central Israel is now known by its Arabic name: Tell es-Safi, Gath. The city was first settled in the Early Bronze Age in about 3500 B.C. It was occupied by the Philistines from the 12th through 9th centuries B.C. It’s the home city of Goliath the giant and also where David later fled to escape King Saul according to the Bible.

“One of the reasons we are so excited, gates are places of administration,” Welch said. “If you look in the Bible, important things happen at city gates. That is where transactions and judgments are made. It is a major portal of the city’s comings and goings. So it is not surprising to find market, religious and industrial activity there.”

Professor Welch has participated in the expedition for nine years, since 2006. Currently, he’s responsible for overseeing excavation of an upper section of the dig where the city’s elite lived. For four weeks this summer he was joined by three KU students from Iowa and Minnesota.

Although little is known about the Philistines, the uncovering of the entrance gate and the potential to find written inscriptions on or near it could provide more clues to the Philistines’ language, religion and origin.

“We know they were the bad guys in the Bible, but we don’t know exactly why,” Welch said. “We are trying to better understand their culture.”

Next year, Welch would like to bring more KU students to dig at Tell es-Safi. Plans are for Welch to direct work on a new section near the gate entrance.

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