Several lines of evidence led excavators to conclude that Tell es-Safi was ancient Gath. First, it meets the geographic criteria: it lies in northern Philistia, just south of the Elah Valley, near both Ekron and Ashdod. It is a very large site that has been almost continuously inhabited since the Chalcolithic period (fourth millennium B.C.E.). But perhaps the most persuasive evidence is the huge quantity of pottery—much of it wholly intact—that has been found at the site.

Shown here is an array of pottery and figurative pieces from Tell es-Safi. At top is a large collection of everyday ceramics, ranging from large storage jars to diminutive juglets. The four strainers above date to the early Iron Age II (tenth–ninth centuries B.C.E.), as does the pillar figurine of a woman holding her breasts (below). This is a type found often in ancient Canaan and Israel during Iron Age II and may represent the goddess Asherah.

A second female figurine found at Tell es-Safi dates to the late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.E.).

The mask-like fragment is a head of a lion and was once part of a rhyton, a ceremonial drinking cup. It is an example of Philistine bichrome ware, pottery decorated with two colors, and dates to Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.E.).

The elegant chalice boasts finely shaped petals and dates to Iron Age II.

If the excavators are right, all the items shown here come from ancient Gath, until now the most elusive member of the Philistine Pentapolis.