Jaffa Excavations Reveal Ancient Egyptian Settlement
April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Excavations continue this year on the ancient hill of Jaffa in Tel Aviv. The Old Testament Studies and Biblical Archaeology division of the Faculty of Protestant Theology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and UCLA collaborated to shed new light on the destruction of the fortification there. They have also found evidence of an Egyptian population on the site.
Jaffa is the world’s oldest documented port. Since the 2nd millennium BC, Jaffa has seen intense trading activity. Jaffa, or Yafo, is on the coast of Israel between Caesarea and Gaza, about 60 km northwest of Jerusalem. The site once included a sprawling lower city, and a tell on top of a kurkar sandstone ridge overlooking the Mediterranean. Jaffa has been continuously occupied through most periods from the Middle Bronze Age to the present day as a major port. As such, it has extensive connections with local neighboring sites and distant maritime commercial centers.
In the 1950′s, municipal archaeologist Y. Kaplan led excavations that found the remains of a gateway belonging to an Egyptian fortification dating to the dynasty of Ramses II, placing the age of the gateway between 1279 and 1213 BC. The findings from Kaplan’s digs were never extensively published.
The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project, a consortium of universities and conservation organizations including the Old Jaffa Development Company and the Israeli Antiquities Authority, aim to publish Kaplan’s findings and conduct new digs around the city.
The goal of this year’s dig was to clarify the history of settlement during the 2nd millennium BC by investigating the phases of the fort’s destruction and the nature of the Egyptian presence. The site director, Dr. Martin Peilstocker of JGU, asserts that the findings this year make it clear the gate was destroyed and rebuilt at least four times.
The Egyptian presence is more than just mud brick architecture and household pottery that reflect Egyptian style and traditions. A rare scarab amulet has been found that bears the cartouche of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390 – 1353 BC). This find attests to the establishment of an Egyptian community in the city, not just styles transported by sailors.
Some of the discoveries made during the excavations are to be put on display in a special exhibition at the Bible Experience Museum, Frankfurt, in 2013.