Hebrew Bible and ANE History Lists Commentary

News and Comments that relate to the Hebrew Bible and to my posts on various ANE and Hebrew Bible related mailing lists - Yitzhak Sapir

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Ancient Mud Bricks for the Tel Dan City Gate

The Middle Bronze Age city gate
Photo source: Avihu Shapira for ynet
ynet (Hebrew) reported on Monday on renewed restoration effort at the Middle Bronze Age gate (contra article, which refers to it as the Late Bronze Age gate) at Tel Dan. The current stage of restoration, to last 10 days, involves building new mud bricks using ancient techniques. A translation follows:

The City Gate - Reconstructing History
by Hagai Einav

At Tel Dan this morning, experts began the third and central stage in the reconstruction of a gate initially built during the Late Bronze Age, considered to be one of the most important 13 sites in archaeology.

Great excitement was felt Monday amongst the representatives of the Israeli Nature and Park Authority and the Israeli Antiquities Authority in the north, as the third and central stage in the restoration of the "City Gate", built approximately 1500 BCE, in the area where the Tel Dan Park resides today in the Upper Galilee and which is considered an important discovery even amongst international experts.


The story begins in 1980, when the first signs are discovered of what is considered today to be one of the 13 important archaeological monuments. This is a gate, initially built during the Late Bronze Age, and which served for a long time those who entered the Biblical city found at the site of today's Tel Dan Park.

Elyakim Maman, a restorer from the Nature and Parks Authority in the north, described the uniqueness of the current "City Gate:" "It is an architectural structure with three arcs, one in the front, another in the inside section, and a third in the back. The gate stands 7 meters tall and its uniqueness lies in the use of such building technology at such an early time. The excavation of the site, its restoration, and its conservation are generating great interest across the world, and for us who are working to conserve the site. This is a very important and exciting moment."

New mud bricks made for the restored gate.
Photo source: Avihu Shapira for ynet
In the first two stages, the appropriate type of earth was selected for the conservation work. In the second stage, a temporary wall was built, that withstood the test of time including withstanding extreme weather in the summer and winter. During the next ten days, the third stage will take place whereby the conservation workers of the Nature and Parks Authority, under the guidance of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, will create mud bricks for the restoration and conservation of the southern tower in the gate.

"One of the main problems with which we are dealing during the restoration is the slanting of the frontal tower forward and this requires complex work and great technical expertise," says Maman.

Hundreds of visitors and pilgrims visited the site Monday and one of the groups even saw the mudbrick making process up close, leading them to sing with great excitement at the impressive gate. The park workers hope that as a result of restoration of the gate and news of the excavation of the "City Gate", many pilgrims and visitors will come to visit the site at the center of the Galilee.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Jerusalem Municipality orders halt to City of David excavations

The crack in the kindergarten wall
Photo source: Kobi Gideon
for Baubau/Haaretz
Meron Rappaport for Haaretz reports (English and Hebrew) that the Jerusalem municipality issued a warrant ordering excavations by the Ir David Foundation to be halted:

Kindergarten management said they fear the building will collapse and that if disaster struck they will hold the municipality and those running the excavations responsible.

The kindergarten operates in the courtyard of a mosque in the Wadi Hilwe neighborhood of the East Jerusalem suburb of Silwan. The excavations funded by the Elad association for Jewish settlement of East Jerusalem take place a few meters away from the mosque.

The excavations nearby the kindergarten
Photo source: Kobi Gideon for Baubau/Haaretz
The Hebrew article includes a little tidbit that the excavations are near the Siloam pool, which suggests the excavations are those conducted by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukran, currently focusing on probably late 9th century BCE remains in the Siloam pool.

Rena Rossner reported in The Jerusalem Post a few months ago that

Reich's and Shukran's digging has unearthed valuable finds. Most recently, they have uncovered over 60 bullae (broken clay seals) and six stamps used to seal letters, attesting to the fact that literacy and a system of administration were in place in Jerusalem as early as the ninth century BCE.

They have also discovered thousands of fish bones that, together with the bullae were found in an area that Reich and Shukran believe to be the Shiloah Pool, used as a ritual bath for the Temple Mount, and a tiled road which ends at the pool and has its origins near the Temple Mount. Ostensibly, this is the road that worshipers used to go back and forth between the Shiloah Pool and the Temple Mount.

The excavated pool and the steel scaffolding
Photo source: The Jerusalem Post
To support the excavation, a huge steel scaffolding system was constructed underneath. My understanding was that right now, the remains found at the site were still being very carefully sifted for the bullae, seals, and fish and animal bones, so I am not sure if any true further excavations have been made.

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