Samson and Delilah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A tiny seal has been uncovered that could be the first archaeological evidence of Samson, the Biblical slayer of Philistines.
Archaeologists discovered the ancient artifact while excavating the tell of Beit Shemesh in the Judaean Hills near Jerusalem, Israel.
It appears to depict the Old Testament story of Samson, whose might was undone by his lust for the temptress Delilah, and his fight with a lion.
The seal, which measures less than an inch in diameter, shows a large animal with a feline tail attacking a human figure.
The seal was discovered at a level of excavation that dates it to roughly the 11th century BC, when Israelite tribes had moved into the area after Joshua's conquest of Canaan.
It was a time when the Jews were led by ad hoc leaders known as judges, one of whom was Samson.
The location of the find was close to the River Sorek that marked the boundary between the Israelites and their Philistine foes, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The location also indicates that the figure on the seal could represent Samson, according to Israeli archaeologists Professor Shlomo Bunimovitz and Dr Zvi Lederman.
Beit Shemesh is regularly mentioned in the Old Testament, most notably in chapter 6 of the book of Samuel I - the ruler of Israel immediately after Samson - as being the first city encountered by the ark of the covenant on its way back from Philistia after having been captured by the Philistines in battle.