A 3,200-year-old Canaanite fortress from the time of the biblical book of Judges has been uncovered by archaeologists in Israel and is now open to the public.
The fortress, at 26 feet by 26 feet, rests near Kibbutz Galon, Israel, and was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority and student volunteers. It dates to the 12th century B.C. and would have been used during the era of Judges, during which “there was no king in Israel” (Judges 18:1) and judges such as Deborah and Samson lived.
“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,” archaeologists Saar Ganor and Itamar Weissbein of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a news release.
Although Israel was ordered by God to conquer the entire land, Judges 1:28-29 says the Israelites “pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely.”
Ganor and Weissbein said watch towers would have been built in the four corners of the fortress.
“A massive threshold, carved from a single rock weighing around 3 tons, was preserved at the entrance of the building,” the news release said. “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 fortress is open for tourism. Talila Lifshitz, director of the community and forest department in the southern region of the Jewish National Fund, said the fortress “provides a fascinating glimpse into the story of a relatively unknown period in the history” of Israel and “provides a touristic and experiential attraction for visitors.”
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Photo courtesy: ©Israel Antiquities Authority
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.