The Bible mentions Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, Ekron (Jos. 13:3) as five city nations of the Philistines. However, it does not reveal which city was the center of these cities. Archeologically, the discovery of the unique pottery of the Philistines that seemed to have been used from around the 12th century BCE often referred to Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron, but it was impossible to say which city was the center. However, when we approach the biblical expressions a little more, we can see the possibility that Gath acted as a center by being prominent in the war scenes. The recent excavation of Tel es-Safit shows that at least Gath was a large-scale settlement of the Philistines during the 10th-9th century BCE. The traces of the walls found in the east of Area D in 2015 made this view more solid. Therefore, this article briefly summarized the literature references and previous publications that can support the hypothesis that Gath played a central role in the 10th and 9th century BC Philistine cities, and introduced recently discovered walls.
Based on the biblical evidence, Gath became an important city during Samson and David time. The land of the Philistines, as the expression of Israel from Dan to Beersheba (2 Sam. 24: 2), refers to military importance, specifying that it is from Gath to Ekron (1 Sam. 7:14; 17:52). The political and military significance of Gath during the 9th century BCE seems to have grown even greater. Hazael king of Syria struck down Gath before going to Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 12:17). Gath was a powerful city in the city of the Philistines, and it must have been a land of necessity before it hit Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The moat and the traces of the war of Hazael were found Area C and Area D in the archaeological discoveries. In the excavation in 2015, at least 30m of the walls of the city of Gath has been revealed. Based on the line of the walls and the discoveries in Area D, now we can claim that Gath was a huge city of 40-50 hectares in the 10th-9th centuries BCE. It is larger than Jerusalem, which was 20 hectares in the 9th century BCE. This result changed the historical view of scholars who criticized, since Gath was small city during the 10-9th centruy BCE, David was a fictional hero and not based on historical backgrounds. Gath was certainly the central city of the Philistines. Recent excavations have also revealed metal workshops at Gath. These metal workshops were found only in Gath among the cities of the Philistines. Perhaps metal trade might be economic source of Gath to help to become more powerful city in the 10-9th century BCE.