Shard of pottery supports Bible account of David and Goliath

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Archaeologists digging at the biblical home of Goliath have unearthed a shard of pottery bearing an inscription of the Philistine's name, lending historical credence to the Bible's tale of David's battle.

While the discovery does not prove Goliath's existence, it does support the Bible's depiction of life at the time of the supposed battle, said Dr Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, excavation director.

"What this means is that at the time there were people there named Goliath," he said. "It shows us that David and Goliath's story reflects the cultural reality of the time."

Some scholars believe that the story of David slaying the giant Goliath is a myth written down hundreds of years later, but Dr Maeir said finding the scraps gave credence to the biblical story.

The shard dates to about 950BC, within 70 years of when biblical chronology says David squared off against Goliath, making it the oldest Philistine inscription found. It was at Tel es-Safi in southern Israel, thought to be the site of the Philistine city of Gath.

Dr Maeir said the shard was exciting because of its depiction of life during the period.