Israeli paratroopers and archaeologists announced Wednesday that they unearthed the remains of a 2,700-year-old watchtower at an undisclosed location in southern Israel. Archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority say they cannot reveal the exact location for security purposes but did say that it sits on an elevated location.
The tower was likely used as a watchtower for the protection of Israel. A watchman stationed in the tower would be able to see approaching enemies. The towers were also useful for communication between the national border and Jerusalem. The watchmen used smoke to communicate during the day and fire at night.
The soldiers and archaeologists reported that the tower measured 5x3.5 meters and that the ruins were 2 meters high. They believe the tower likely stood about 4 meters high, which would make it about two stories tall. The large stone blocks used to construct the tower weighed up to eight tons.
The excavation was the result of a joint project between the IDF’s Technology and Maintenance Corps, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, and the Israel Nature and Parks authority. Second Lieutenant Roi Ofir took part in the excavation and explained its importance. He said, “This is the first time I participated in excavations. The connection to the land and the fact that there were Jewish fighters in the past gave me a sense of mission. The fact that there was also a connection to the area where we carried out our own military maneuvers; left us with a feeling that we were giving back.”
Sa’ar Ganor, co-director of the Israeli Antiquities Authority, explained the significance of the tower and its discovery. About the usefulness of the tower, he said, “King Hezekiah was sitting in Jerusalem. How could he control his boundary? By placing watchtowers with beacons in the hills, that would monitor the area and report back.” He also explained how the towers were used, saying, In the days of the First Temple, the Kingdom of Judah built a range of towers and fortresses as points of communication, warning and signaling, to transmit messages and field intelligence. This tower is likely one of these observation towers.”
Archaeologists believe the tower was used until the Assyrians took over most of Judah in the late 700’s B.C.
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Micro Gen, This is a stock photo, a photo of the watchtower is not available at this time.