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An observation tower from the days of King Hezekiah was uncovered in archaeological excavations by the soldiers of the paratrooper base in the south of Israel

The excavation took place as part of an activity of the "Nature Defense Army - Commanders take responsibility for their environment" project and led by the Antiquities Authority * The archaeologists: It is possible that the portable tower was used to transmit messages by means of beacons, similar to the method mentioned in the sources

A 2700-year-old tower was discovered at a paratrooper base. Photo: Antiquities Authority
A 2700-year-old tower was discovered at a paratrooper base. Photo: Antiquities Authority

An observation tower from the days of the Kingdom of Judah (the 8th century BC - the reign of King Hezekiah) was recently uncovered in archaeological excavations by IDF soldiers together with the Antiquities Authority at the Paratroopers base in the south of the country. The excavation was conducted as part of the "Nature Defense Army - Commanders Take Responsibility for their Environment" initiative, led by the IDF Technology and Maintenance Corps and done in collaboration with the IDF, the Ministry of Defense, the Society for the Protection of Nature, the Nature and Parks Authority, and the Antiquities Authority.

The tower, whose dimensions in ancient times are estimated at 5 x 3.5 m, was built on a high geographical position, and because of this, it is possible to observe the mountains of Hebron, the Judean lowlands and the surrounding Ashkelon. It was built of extremely large stones, some of which reach 8 tons, and was preserved to a height of about 2 m. According to Saar Ganor and Valdik Lifshitz, the managers of the excavation on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, "the strategic location of the tower served as an observation point and a warning against the Philistine enemy, one of whose cities was Ashkelon. In the days of the First Temple, the Kingdom of Judah built a series of towers and fortresses that were points of contact, warning and signaling as a way to transmit messages and field intelligence. This tower is one of the observation points that connected the major cities in the vicinity, which were located at the Beit Marsim (Registry), Tel Aiton and Tel Lakish sites. In order to convey the messages, in ancient times they used to carry smoke beacons during the day, and fire beacons at night. It is possible that the observation tower that has just been revealed is one of the towers carrying the beacons."

Beacons are mentioned in the Bible, or in the language of the Bible, "Mashhat" several times. Thus, in the story of Pelach in the hill, the use of smoke torches is described: "The time was for the Israelites with the Arabs to bring up the smoke from the city: and the Israelites were defeated in war and in From when it came to smiting spaces in Israel about thirty men because they said that a body is a body before us like the first war And the chariot began to go up from the city, a pillar of smoke, and Benjamin turned after him, and behold, the night of the heavenly city went up" (Judges 38:40-1). The prophet Jeremiah also describes the way of passing the torches: "Let the children of Benjamin go forth from near Jerusalem, and blow a trumpet at Tekoa, and bring a torch to the house of the vineyard; L" (Jeremiah 4:XNUMX). Evidence from another source is known from one of the ostracon (letters on pottery) discovered at Tel Lachish. At the end of letter number XNUMX, it is written "And my Lord knew that the burden of Laksh rested as high as the shovel that my Lord gave." Because we won't see Azka." This letter shows that the existence of the beacons and the interpretation of the signals is part of the defense system and the concept of ongoing security and security during an emergency in the Kingdom of Judah during the Iron Age.

The activity in the ancient tower, which was uncovered in the area of ​​the military base, stopped on the eve of the Assyrian King Sennacherib's journey to Judah, in 701 BC. The archeological excavations revealed that the tower's entrance was closed, and the force stationed in it probably converged on one of the nearby dry cities. From the biblical evidence and the archaeological findings in the field, we know that Sennacherib's journey left a tremendous destruction in Judah, where 46 cities and about 2000 villages and farms were destroyed. Now, about 2700 years after Sennacherib's journey to the land of Judah, Israel Defense Forces soldiers have uncovered an observation tower of the Judean army soldiers, just like the observation towers used in the army today.
Guy Slai, the director of the Defense Force project for nature, says that about 150 recruits and commanders from the paratrooper brigade participated in the excavations, including the patrol recruits, in an activity that spread over several months. Slai adds that the project, which was established with the aim of leading commanders and soldiers to responsibility and active involvement in preserving the values ​​of nature, the landscape and the heritage in their surroundings, began in 2014 with 8 projects, and currently around 60 centers of action throughout the country operate as part of it. "Fortunately, in each of the projects a mutual guarantee is created to strengthen the bond between the soldiers and their environment. The IDF, as a melting pot for the diverse Israeli population, is a unique meeting point for people from all over the country, who through the environmental activities create a stronger affinity for the preservation of nature and Israeli heritage," says Salai.

Sergeant Major Roi Ophir, Recruit Inspector at the Parachute Brigade, 21 years old from Rosh Ha'Ain: "The archaeological dig was a break from routine for me, I saw the soldiers enjoying manual labor that has added value. This is the first time I participated in the excavations. The connection to the land, and the fact that there were Jewish fighters there in the past, made me feel a mission. It was also a connection to our areas of fire - basically we gave back to the place where we trained."

2 תגובות

  1. In the surveys I did with Eitan Ayalon, we found tower bases, which are suitable for a guard tower during the harvest period, it makes a lot of sense that a beacon tower should have a wide area at its base

  2. From the above article, an interesting picture emerges about the watchtowers, the battlements, the signaling signs by fire, and perhaps also by smoke, which arises in the context of the confrontation between rebellious Judah and Babylon, which descends to punishment in the days of Nebuchadnezzar/Nebuchadnezzar. The tragic story of Lachish and Azkah emerges, if/with an interesting allusion in the Bible. In the book of 12 Chronicles 11:XNUMX-XNUMX, it is stated that King Rehoboam fortified Lachish, Azkah, and Adoraim and others as "fortified cities" - "and strengthened the fortresses and gave them governors (we were rulers and commanders) and treasures of oil, oil, and wine in every city and town of Zinot ( long shields) and spears and will strengthen them for a very long time".
    And regarding the section from the fourth ostracon of Lachish documents (number 4) quoted in the article above, which presents in a dramatic, moving and somewhat shocking way the atmosphere of the occupation of Lachish and Azka, as if the writer brings the experience of seeing his eyes in real time, in terms of a historical projection of "Hill 24 is not an answer" In the battles of the XNUMX war, when the writer bothers to bring his impression from the codex of signals (link/cipher) that was in front of him.
    It is interesting to bring the word of the Bible in this regard, considering an interesting historiographical bridge: "And the army of the king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) fought against Jerusalem and all the remaining cities of Judah, to Lachish and to Azkah, because here (the) remained in the cities of Judah fortified cities" (Jeremiah 7 XNUMX).
    And like the last two texts are dated according to a fairly close chronological order, perhaps in terms of "hours", first the Bible and then the Lachish pottery

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