Remains of Ancient Settlement Mentioned in Bible Discovered

The discovery of the remains of a settlement in Upper Galilee, dating back to the 12th century B.C.E. and confirming the Biblical account of the conquest of the Canaanite town of La’ish by the tribe of Dan, was announced here today by Dr. Avraham Biran, director of Israel’s Department of Antiquities.

Dr. Biran, who headed the six-week excavation at Tel Dan, a historic mound near the Syrian border, said that the group had uncovered a charred floor at the site at a level dating to the 12th century B.C.E. which was the period of the Israelite judges after Joshua had settled most of the Israelites in Canaan.

He said that the find had confirmed the account in Chapter 18 of the Book of Judges describing how the tribe of Dan conquered and destroyed the town of La’ish, built a new city on the spot which they called Dan and settled there as part of the territory allotted to them as a land inheritance.

Evidence of the prosperity of the city in the 10th and 8th centuries B.C.E., under the firm rule of the House of Kings Ahab and Jeroboam II, was seen in the fact that the Israelites went beyond the confines of the earlier Canaanite town to erect a number of monumental buildings, Dr. Biran reported.

One of the most important aspects of the discovery from the archaeologist’s viewpoint, Dr. Biran noted, was explanation of the curious shape of the mound which resembles a crater rather than the usual cone. It was found that this shape took form around the 17th century B.C.E, in the era of the Hyksos civilization and included a fortification with sloping ramparts built on either side of a six-yard-thick central supporting wall. The floor of the dwelling covered by a layer of ash was found at the sixth layer of settlement corresponding to the 11th or 12th century B.C.E.

Also found at the site was a rare broken jar fragment dating to the eighth century B.C.E. with an inscription comprising the letters Aleph, Mem and Tzadi in the Hebrew and Phoenician script. Dr. Biran explained the inscription as indicating that the jar either belonged to or was a gift for a man named Ametz of Amatzia, both common names of that period.

Excavation of the mound, which covers an area of 50 acres, was carried out by eight archaeologists in the group assisted by members of Kibbutz Dan and other laborers. Only an eighth of an acre of the site was probed, with further excavations planned for some future date, Dr. Biran said.

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