Researchers uncovered a 12th Century BC seal depicting a man and Lion In Battle in Tel Beth Shemesh,
"House of the Sun" located about 19 miles (30 km) west of Jerusalem near the ancient border between
the Israelites and Philistines - one of a number of so-called "sea peoples", in the Iron Age.
The seal was discovered with other finds on the floor of an excavated house, dated by
the archaeologists to the 12th century BCE.
The Book of Judges (the seventh book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible) says that S
amson was born, lived part of his life, and was buried in the area across the valley from
Beth Shemesh (Judges 13:2, 25; 16:31).
Left:"House of the Sun", a cultural meeting point for Philistines, Canaanites, and Israelites
Samson's stories skip across these cultural borders. Right: The "Samson seal" found at Beth Shemesh. Photo: Raz Lederman,
Tel Beth Shemesh Excavations.
Further, the story of Samson fighting and killing a lion (Judges 14:5-6) is recorded as
having occurred on the way from his family home to Timnah--a site identified as Tel
Batash and located only a few miles from Beth Shemesh.
The story, in which Samson fights a lion falls somewhere around the end of the 12th and
the beginning of the 11th century BC, according to the chronology derived from various
books of the Bible and synchronisms with ancient Near Eastern king lists.
The seal, found in a layer dated to the 11th century BC, comes from a time soon after
these events in Samson's life.
The seal was discovered in the area where the legendary Samson lived his fight with
the lion occurred.
It suggests that the story was known in the area not long after the events occurred.
The seal, measures 15 millimetres (about a half-inch) in diameter, and depicts a
human figure next to a lion.
Having been betrayed by Delilah and taken prisoner and blinded by the Philistines, he regains his strength and brings the Temple of Dagon
According to scientists of TAU, the scene engraved on the seal, the time period,
and the location of the discovery all point to a probable reference to the story of
Samson, the legendary heroic figure whose adventures famously included a victory in
hand-to-paw combat with a lion.
However, the seal does not reveal when the stories about Samson were originally written, or clarify
whether Samson was a historical or legendary figure.
"If we are right and what we see on the seal is a representation of a man meeting a lion,
it shows that the Samson legend already existed around the area of Beth Shemesh during that
time period. We can date it quite precisely," Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz of TAU's Department of
Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations explained.
The legends surrounding Samson are set in the period of the Judges, prior to the establishment
of kingship in ancient Israel.
Samson - from the Israelite tribe of Dan - was frequently depicted stepping out into the
world of the Philistines — even searching for a Philistine wife, much to the chagrin of his parents.
"Samson has a very legendary aura," explains Dr. Zvi Lederman, calling the Samson stories
"border sagas." On one hand, Samsom could cross the border and interact with the Philistines,
but on the other, he met with danger and various challenges when he did stray out of his
"When you cross the border, you have to fight the enemy and you encounter dangerous animals,"
Dr. Lederman says. "You meet bad things. These are stories of contact and conflict, of a
border that is more cultural than political."
We are a world-leading site on ancient astronauts, ancient mysteries, exploration of secret ancient worlds and forbidden knowledge.
We also focus on stories often ignored in the mainstream media.
We offer independent and uncensored news for those who are ready to challenge the hard questions in the
controversial science of extraterrestrial life.
Our website reaches several thousand of daily readers world-wide. Become one of them and join us in
our quest for knowledge.