Watch: 3,200-year-old fortress discovered in southern Israel

Major archeological find dating back to era of the Judges uncovered near Kiryat Gat. Fortress likely built to repel Philistines, Israelites.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

The Canaanite fortress
The Canaanite fortress
Emil Aladjem, Israel Antiquities Authority

A Canaanite fortress from the middle of the 12 century BCE – The days of the biblical judges, was found by Israel Antiquities Authority and teenage volunteers in an excavation close to Kibbutz Galon, near Kiryat Gat. The site is now being opened for the public free of charge, in a collaboration between Israel Antiquities Authority and the Jewish National Fund (KKL).

According to archaeologists Saar Ganor and Itamar Weissbein of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The fortress we found provides a glimpse into the geopolitical reality described in the Judges book, in which the Canaanites, Israelites and Philistines are fighting each other."

"In this period, the land of Canaan was ruled by the Egyptians and its inhabitants were under their custody. Then, during the 12 century BCE, two new players entered the game: the Israelites and the Philistines. This led to a series of violent territorial disputes. The Israelites settled in non-fortified settlements at the Benjamin and Judean Mountains. Meanwhile, The Philistines accumulated power in the Southern Coastal Plain and established big cities such as Ashkelon, Ashdod and Gat."

"In an attempt to conquer more areas, The Philistines confronted the Egyptians and the Canaanites on the border line, which probably passed at the Guvrin river, between the Philistine kingdom of Gat and the Canaanite kingdom of Lachish. It seems that Galon fortress was built as a Canaanite/Egyptian attempt to cope with the new geopolitical situation. However, in the middle of the 12 century BCE the Egyptians left the land of Canaan and returned to Egypt. Their departure led to the destruction of the now unprotected Canaanite cities – a destruction that was probably led by the Philistines."

According to Ganor and Weissbein, "the stories of the judges in the bible demonstrate clearly the complicated Geopolitical reality and the struggle for the control of territories during the establishment of new political powers in the land of Israel. The fortress structure, called Egyptian "governor houses", is known from other sites excavated in Israel. The fortress was built in a strategic location, from which it is possible to watch the main road that went along the Guvrin river – a road connecting the coastal plain to the Judea plains.

The size of the fortress is 18 by 18 meters and watch towers were built in the four corners. A massive threshold, carved form one rock weighing around 3 tone, was preserved at the entrance of the building. Inside the fortress was a courtyard paved with stone slabs and columns in the middle.

Rooms were constructed from both sides of the courtyard. Hundreds of Pottery vessels, some still whole, were found in the rooms of the fortress, including special vessels such as Bowl and Cup that were probably used for religious ritual. A large number of bowls were also found in the rooms, some of which were made in a style copying Egyptian bowls.

The remains of the fortress were uncovered with the help of students form the Israel studies department at the Multidisciplinary School in Be'er Sheva, students from Nachshon pre-military preparatory program and other volunteers.



top