A 3,200-year-old fortress uncovered in Israel

Israeli archaeologists have just made a great discovery: they have unearthed a thousand-year-old fortress built by the Egyptians and Canaanites.

With the help of teenage volunteers, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) discovered a new ancient wonder in a forest. It is a fortress dating back to the 12th century BC, near the town of Kiryat Gat, Israel Measuring 18 metres by 18 metres, this military structure, nicknamed the Fortress of Galon, had two floors and watchtowers in each corner, with a courtyard paved with stone slabs and columns in the centre.

The IAA archaeologists think that the building was built by the Canaanites, perhaps with the help of the Egyptians, to repel the Philistines who were invading them. Canaan, the land promised to the Hebrews by God in the Bible, was then ruled by Egypt.

According to the IAA, the biblical characters of Delilah and Samson also lived at this time. The Philistines, for their part, are an ancient people known for the legendary Goliath.

This period of the 12th century BC is described in “The Book of Judges”, one of the books of the Hebrew Bible which tells the period of the history of the Hebrews between the conquest of the Land of Canaan and the appearance of royalty.

In addition to the citadel, hundreds of pottery vessels, including those probably used for religious rites, were found in rooms on either side of the court. A massive threshold was found intact at the entrance, carved from a single stone and weighing about three tons. These elements support the idea of an Egyptian influence.

“The fortress we found gives an insight into the geopolitical reality described in the ‘Book of Judges’, in which the Canaanites, Israelites and Philistines are fighting,” said AAI archaeologists Saar Ganor and Itamar Weissbein in a statement. It seems that the fortress of Galon was built as a Canaanite / Egyptian attempt to cope with the new geopolitical situation. It was built in a strategic location, from which it is possible to watch the main road along the Guvrin River – a road linking the coastal plain to the plains of Judea”.

Then the Egyptians left Canaan in the middle of the 12th century BC. Without their protection, the Canaanites experienced several territorial battles, especially with the Philistines, and many of their cities collapsed. “Their departure led to the destruction of the now unprotected Canaanite cities – a destruction that was probably carried out by the Philistines,” said the archaeologists. As for Talila Lifshitz, director of the Department of Community and Forestry in the southern region of the Jewish National Fund, she said that “the discovery of the fortress of Galon offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of a relatively unknown period in the country’s history”. The fortress is now open to the public.

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