Ancient City Found Under Biblical-Era Ruins

Archaeologists in Israel unearth evidence of older Canaanite city

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 17, 2013 3:53 PM CST

(Newser) – Archaeologists excavating an ancient city in Israel have found evidence of an even older city at the site, one that dates back to the 14th century BC, LiveScience reports. Archaeologists have been digging at the Canaanite city of Gezer for about 100 years, with most experts dating their findings to the 10th through 8th centuries BC. Now the discovery of Philistine pottery shards and a scarab amulet with the markings of King Amenhotep III—King Tut's grandfather—are pointing to earlier dates in the Late Bronze Age, reports Haaretz. But scholars aren't too surprised, considering the city was a stop along a key trade route that ran between Egypt, Syria, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia.

"It's not surprising that a city that was of importance in the biblical kingdoms of Israel and Judah would have an older history and would have played an important political and military role prior to that time," says a Biblical scholar. "If you didn't control Gezer, you didn't control the east-west trade route." Experts say that Assyrians, Egyptians, and Canaanites ruled Gezer over the centuries, and according to the Bible, an Egyptian pharaoh gave it to King Solomon for marrying the pharaoh's daughter. Another neat fact: some of antiquity's largest underground water tunnels exist under Gezer, likely constructed to safeguard water during attacks. (Click to read about another recently unearthed ancient city—in a notable location.)

Tel Gezer excavations national park in Israel.   (Shutterstock)
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