Ancient City Gate in Israel
The Ancient Gate At Tel Erani. Image Courtesy | Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority/The Jerusalem Post

Ancient City Gate Dating Back 5,500 Years Unearthed In Israel

As researchers and archaeologists continue to uncover these invaluable remnants of the past, the historical puzzle of Israel's early urbanization takes on new depth and complexity.

August 16, 2023

In a groundbreaking archaeological discovery, a team of Israeli archaeologists excavating near Kiryat Gat's industrial zone has uncovered a remarkable relic, an ancient city gate, that sheds light on the ancient history of the region.

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced on August 15, 2023, the unearthing of a 5,500-year-old city gate – the oldest structure of its kind ever found in Israel.

"This remarkable finding, the most ancient city gate known in the country, significantly enriches our understanding of ancient civilizations," news agency ANI reported quoting Eli Eskosido of the Antiquities Authority.

In collaboration with the Mekorot Water Company, a decision was made to alter the water pipe's route in order to preserve this invaluable historical artifact.

The excavation, which took place in Tel Erani, not only revealed the impressive city gate but also unveiled a section of a fortification system, all tracing back to the Early Bronze Age, approximately 3,300 years ago.

This discovery offers a rare glimpse into the development of urban centers and their defensive strategies in times long past.

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"This marks the first instance of unearthing such a substantial gate from the Early Bronze Age period. The effort required to construct the gate and the surrounding fortification walls involved the transportation of stones from distant locations, the production of mudbricks, and meticulous construction. This was undoubtedly a collective endeavor, highlighting the emergence of social organization and the initial phases of urbanization," the ANI further reported quoting excavation director Emily Bischoff.

Tel Erani, spanning 150 dunams (37 acres), carries historical ties to the ancient Philistines.

Situated on the outskirts of modern-day Kiryat Gat, this ancient city Gate met its downfall around the 6th Century BCE, believed to be at the hands of the Babylonians.

Dr Yitzhak Paz, an expert in the Early Bronze Age at the Antiquities Authority said that the Tel site formed a crucial component of a expansive and significant settlement network in the southwestern region during that era.

"Within this network, we can discern the earliest indications of urbanization, including urban planning, societal hierarchy, and communal construction," Dr Paz added.

"The newly discovered gate holds profound implications for redefining the inception of urbanization within the country," Dr Paz said.

While prior excavations indicated that urbanization began towards the conclusion of the fourth millennium BCE, Paz noted, "The Tel Erani excavations now illustrate that this progression initiated even earlier, during the final third of the fourth millennium BCE."

This revelation reshapes historical narratives, casting a fresh light on the earliest stages of human urban development in the region.

The unearthing of this ancient city gate serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of civilizations that once thrived in the very soil where modern cities stand today

As researchers and archaeologists continue to uncover these invaluable remnants of the past, the historical puzzle of Israel's early urbanization takes on new depth and complexity.

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