The Elah Fortress excavation, being developed by Foundation Stone under the direction of Professor Yosef Garfinkel, Yigal Yadin Chair of Archeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has announced the discovery of a second monumental find in as many months.
Archeologists digging at the site have uncovered a second gate to the city. This “two-gate” feature is the only one of its kind found in the Kingdoms of Judah or Israel to date and is understood by Professor Garfinkel as revealing the Biblical name of the city: “Sha’arayim” – literally meaning two gates.
The second gate was discovered in recent weeks as part of ongoing excavations at this site which has already yielded numerous historic finds. The gate faces an easterly direction, towards Jerusalem. Already proven to be a Judean city, this latest find lends further credence to the assumption that it was part of a regional governing system connected to King David. The gate is comprised of massive stones, each weighing about 10 tons, leading archeologists to conclude that the fortification of the city was orchestrated by some form of centralized government.
Elah Fortress - baloon shot
Carbon 14 dating conducted on burnt olive pits uncovered at the site have already concluded that the city was active in 1,000-965 BC, during the time of King David.
The discovery is the first ever of an Iron Age fortified city with two gates. Coupled with the location of the Elah Fortress in close proximity to the Biblical strongholds of Socho an Azekah, numerous factors are leading Professor Garfinkel to conclude that the Fortress is in fact the Juadaen city of Sha’arayim.
Elah Fortress - Western gate
“This discovery is critical towards our further appreciation of the enormous historic value this site played in the kingdom of Judah.” said Barnea Selevan, co-Director of Foundation Stone, the organization leading the development of the Elah Fortress including its educational components for visitation and participation by students and the general public in the excavations. Sha’arayim appears three times in the Bible and the city is twice linked to King David.
The find of the second gate follows the discovery of an ostracon (pottery shard inscribed with writing in ink) also within the Elah Fortress site. The writing visible on the pottery piece is believed to be the earliest and longest known ancient Hebrew text ever found.
“Uncovering two discoveries of such substantial importance in such a short period of time is almost unprecedented in the field of Biblical archeology,” said Professor Garfinkel. “With only a small percentage of the site dug so far, we are very excited about what we will continue to find in the period ahead.”
Photos courtesy of Foundation Stone