Study on ancient Tel Aviv fortress sheds light on its past

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new research on an ancient fortress in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel, is offering new insights into its past.

The fortress, Tel Qudadi, was first excavated 70 years ago, but the results of the investigations were never published before.

Now, the findings by the archaeologists at Tel Aviv University suggest that the place hides much more than they imagined, including a connection between ancient Israel and the Greek island of Lesbos.

They said the fortress was established centuries later than believed, and may have served as an intermediate station for trade ships travelling between Egypt and Phoenicia.

“The secrets of this ancient fortress are only beginning to be revealed,” said Dr Alexander Fantalkin and Dr Oren Tal.

Earlier theories of Tel Qudadi’s history suggested that the fortress was the established at the behest of King Solomon during the 10th century B.C.E., to protect against sea raids.

Another theory suggested that the fortress was established in the 9th century B.C.E. as part of the Kingdom of Israel.

However, the latest study indicates that the fortress could not have been built earlier than the late 8th - early 7th centuries B.C.E., which is much later than previously thought.

This means that the citadel was not established by the Israelite Kingdom but instead was part of the powerful Assyrian empire - centered in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), which ruled Israel in the late 8th and most of the 7th centuries B.C.E.

The researchers said that one of the key finds was an amphora (a large jar used to transport oil or wine), which hails from the Greek island of Lesbos. The find is the earliest known example to date of the Lesbian amphorae in the Mediterranean.

What remains a mystery, according to the researchers, is how the Lesbian amphora arrived at Tel Qudadi in the first place. It may have come aboard a Phoenician ship on an occasional trading voyage around the Mediterranean.

While a single find cannot prove the existence of trade between ancient Israel and Lesbos, the finding has implications for understanding trade routes between different parts of the Mediterranean.

The mysterious amphora, along with other new discoveries about the ancient fortress, is helping researchers to reassess the site’s timeline.

The research presents the possibility that Tel Qudadi was an important intermediate station along the maritime route between Egypt and Phoenicia.

The findings were recently published in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly and BABESH: Annual Papers on Mediterranean Archaeology. (ANI)

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