Canadian students help unearth lost biblical city

Head Archaeologist Dr Itzick Shai with from left, top,  Yael Shneiderman, Jordanna Miller and Jared Friedman; bottom, Jacob Pesachov and Ami Moyal.

A group of Canadian students have joined a team of biblical archaeologists from Israel’s Bar Ilan University excavating what they believe to be the ancient biblical city of Libnah.  

The students, Yael Shneiderman, Jordanna Miller, Jared Friedman, Jacob Pesachov and Ami Moyal are about to finish up a GAP year on the Israel Experience program at the university.  As part of a team of volunteers, they worked to level a small square of the site.

Libnah served as an important Judean city, looking out to the Philistine capital city of Gath, home to the giant Goliath famously slain by David. The city is also mentioned in the book of Kings as the hometown of Hamutal, a wife of King Josiah who reigned in Judah 640–609 BCE.

The team of biblical archaeologists began digging at the site near Kiryat Gat in 2009 and have already unearthed huge fortifications.  

Project director Dr Itzick Shai said: “We think the site should be identified as biblical Libnah. This is based on the location of the site, and the date and nature of excavations found there which show the material culture is Judean. The site was important and well-fortified during the biblical period and we have also found remains from 700 BCE which correlate with the time of King Josiah.

The field work of such projects is based on the work of our volunteers, without them we wouldn't have any excavation season.”

Jordanna Miller, 19 from Thornhill,  said: "I have always wanted to go on an archaeological dig. I love ancient history and have always wanted to unearth history. During the dig I was helping to break down a barrier between areas to uncover a wall. We found lots of pottery shards and some bones. We found the jaw of a goat in three pieces and a rather large storage jar. It was hard work and a lot of manual labour but amazing and I would love to do it again."

Outgoing Israel Experience at Bar Ilan Director, Rabbi Tully Bryks, commented, “I loved being able to find unique opportunities for our students that combine fun and meaningful experience. An archaeology dig allows are students to not only have an Israel experience, they are able to create their own Israel experience.”