Ancient tower discovered in IDF base .
(photo credit: Israel Antiquities Authority)
An ancient observation tower was discovered in southern Israel on Wednesday in an IDF paratrooper base. The tower dates back to the days of the King Hezekiah, who ruled the Kingdom of Judah almost 3,000 years ago, according to the Bible.
"The strategic location of the tower served as a lookout and warning point against the Philistine enemy, one of whose cities was Ashkelon," according to Valdik Lifshitz and Sa'ar Ganor, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The tower was estimated to be about 16.4 x 11.5 feet.
"In the days of the First Temple, the Kingdom of Judah built a range of towers and fortresses as points of communication, warning and signaling, to transmit messages and field intelligence."
The messages would be transmitted though smoke and fire, depending the time of the day.
The project was carried by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in a joint effort with the IDF and the Ministry of Defense.
"To our delight, each project creates solidarity, strengthening the connection between the soldiers and their surroundings.The IDF, a melting pot of Israel's diverse population, is a unique meeting place for people from all parts of the country, which, through environmental activities, creates between them a stronger awareness to the preservation of nature and the Israeli heritage," IDF Defense Force project Guy Saly said.
Some 150 recruits and commanders from the Paratroopers Brigade participated in the excavation, according to Saly. Part of the IDF's involvement in the project was to instill responsibility of Israel's heritage, and natural landscape to IDF soldiers and commanders. The initiative, which began in 2014, included eight distinct projects.
"The archaeological excavation was a routine break from my point of view. I saw soldiers enjoying manual labor that has added value," Lieutenant Colonel Roi Ofir, commander of recruits at the Paratroopers Brigade, said. "This is the first time I participated in excavations. The connection to the land, and the fact that there were Jewish fighters in the past, gave me a sense of mission. The fact that there was also a connection to the area where we carried out our own military maneuvers; left us with a feeling that we were giving back."
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