Philistine Gath Bowl (1000 BCE)

(August 10, 2022) The Philistine letter style at this time was was becoming more cursive indicating it was mostly being scratched or inked on pottery shards and pieces of wood. 

For translation methodology see: How to Translate Alphabetic Akkadian Texts

Pottery Shard with graffito from Tell es-Safi which was the Philistine city of Gath
Pottery Shard with graffito from Tell es-Safi which was the Philistine city of Gath. Image from Maeir and all, (2008). Letter assignments by Olmsted.
Cross section of floor area where Gath Graffito shard was found
Cross section of floor area where Gath Graffito shard was found. It was found in the region labeled 82119. Drawing from Maeir and all (2008)

Philistine Gath (Tell es-Safi) Red Bowl Held Food Offerings for Hekate - 1000 BCE 

(Jan 29, 2023) This previously untranslated Alphabetic Akkadian text was found at Tell es-Safi which was the Philistine city of Gath. This shard is from a bowl with a smooth red slip. It reads (right to left):

Translation in Akkadian (Levant Text 9)

(read right to left. Capital letters on object. Small letters are inferred Inner vowels) 
  1. Bu  KaTe |
  2. Ku  Bu  ...

(Dual use letters are E/H, I/Y, U/W, and '/A in which vowel appears at beginning of words except for Yahu which is keeping its traditional Hebrew transliteration)

In English

  1. This is for nourishing Kate (Hekate)
  2. On account of nourishing t[ ]

This text was first reported in 2006 and published in 2008. It is on a type of pottery which belonged to to the time between the late Iron Age I to early Iron IIA. This dates it to about 1000 BCE. Gath was the reported home of Goliath in the Bible (1 Samuel 17). 

This pottery shard was found in an industrial/commercial area as a cast-away on the floor of a heavily used room. Based upon the number of bones on the floor this room seems to have been a food preparation area. The bowl has a thin red slip which allowed the letters to be scratched with little effort.


Olmsted, D.D. (August 2020-2) Three Religiously Themed Philistine Texts in Alphabetic Akkadian (1160-960 BCE). Humanities Commons Permanent URL: Online at:
Maeir, M. A., Wimmer, S.J. Zukerman, A. Demsky, A. (2008) A Late Iron Age I/ Early Iron Age II Old Canaanite Inscription from Tell eş-Şafi/Gath Israel: Paleography, Dating, and Historical Cultural Significance. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. No. 351 pp. 39-71. Online at:
Maps showing location of found Philistine Texts
Early Philistine sites are shown in red.

Philistine Text Sites

(August 10, 2022)  Genetic studies show the Philistines were mostly European/Aegean in origin. A recent study compared 10 Bronze and Iron Age individuals from the Philistine city of Ashkelon. They found that the early Iron Age population of this city was genetically distinct from the Bronze Age people yet this genetic difference was no longer detectible in the later Iron Age population. 


Feldman, M; Master, D.M; Bianco, R.A.; Burri, M.; Stockhammer, P.W.; Mittnik, A.; Aja, A.J.; Jeong, C..; and Krause, J. (July 2019) Ancient DNA sheds light on the genetic origins of early Iron Age Philistines. Science Advances 03 Jul 2019: Vol. 5, no. 7, eaax0061. DOI: 0.1126/sciadv.aax0061. Online at:
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee showing the droughts
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee. In historical times it shows two major droughts. The 50 year long Great Drought of 1180 to 1140 BCE (Iron Age 1 period) which ended the Bronze Age (called the "Late Bronze Climate Crisis" in the chart) and the 10-year long Elijah drought of 850 BCE. The yellow gives the tree pollen level while the green gives the non-tree pollen level. Minor droughts are indicated anytime the curves turn downward. (Langut and Finkelsein 2013)

Droughts Defined the Archaeological Periods in the Levant

(August 9, 2022) Like most regions of the earth, correlating the archaeology of the southern levant with carbon 14 dating and absolute dating has been undergoing some debate. The best correlation with linguistics is the chronology proposed by Amihai Mazar in 2014. This chronology is reproduced below: 


Langut, D. Finkelsein, I, Litt, T. (2013) Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Levant. Tel Aviv 40:149-175. Online at
Mazar, Amihai (2005) The Debate over the Chronology of the Iron Age in the Southern Levant: its History, the Current Situation and a Suggested Resolution. pp. 15-30 in: T. Levy and T. Higham (editors), The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating - Archaeology, Text and Science. London. Online at: