September 4, 2009

Oldest Wall In Jerusalem Found

Archaeologists in east Jerusalem have uncovered a 3,700-year-old wall, which is the oldest example of massive fortifications to ever be discovered in the city, according to a statement made by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Wednesday.

The construct was designed to protect the water supply of the city to make up the area's earliest known fortifications, explained Ronny Reich, director of the excavation and an archaeology professor at the University of Haifa.

Reich said that the 26-ft high wall revealed that the people of Canaan were an advanced and sophisticated civilization.

There are many who would criticize such excavation projects as being used by the Israeli government to support Jewish claims to Palestinian land, which they currently occupy and continue to encroach upon with ever expanding settlements.

The digging is taking place in what is known as the City of David, in a Palestinian neighborhood right outside the walls of ancient Jerusalem, and is funded by Elad, a Jewish settler organization that also works to settle Jews in that area.

The discovery marks the first time that archaeologists have found such a massive construction pre-dating Herod, who ruled during the time of a number of monumental projects in the city 2,000 years ago.

The discovery demonstrates that the Jerusalem of the Middle Bronze Age had a very strong and influential society able to design and build complex structures, said Reich.

The wall dates to the 17th century BC, when Jerusalem was a small yet strong isolated group controlled by the Canaanites, which is one of the groups that the Bible refers to as living in the Holy Land before being conquered by the Hebrew conquest.

The kingdom that is thought to have been governed by the Bible's King David from Jerusalem usually dates back to at least seven centuries later.

The team believes that the wall had once been part of a protected passage built by ancient Canaanites from a hilltop fortress all the way to a nearby spring that was the city's only water source at the time and susceptible to plundering.

"The wall is enormous, and that it survived 3,700 years - this is, even for us, a long time," said Reich.

Israel's Antiquities Authority said the site was open for public viewing on Thursday.


On the Net: