Stone wall from First Temple period destroyed by rains.
(photo credit: TZVIKA ZUK)
The heavy rains that have battered Israel over the past few days have not only flooded modern city streets, but have also destroyed a stone wall dating to the First Temple period.
The stone wall, located near the entrance gate to the ancient city of Tel Dan, collapsed on top of five tombstones located at its base, according to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The wall was made of a combination of the original ancient stones and reconstructed pieces, the INPA said.
“It is sad and unfortunate to see such damage by forces of nature to unique and very important treasures of history and heritage,” said Zvika Zuk, chief archeologist of the INPA.
As one of the most important sites of antiquity in Israel, Tel Dan contains the remains of ancient city that dates back 5,000 years, the INPA said.
The first settlement of Tel Dan took place during the Neolithic period, with the city rising to its greatest prominence during the Canaanite and Israelite periods.
Excavations at Tel Dan began in 1966, under the direction of Prof. Avraham Biran, continuing on and off until today, according to the INPA. Near the site of the collapse was found the Tel Dan Stele, which bears an important Aramaic inscription from the ninth century BCE, marking the conquest of the territory from the House of David by Hazael, king of Aram.
Another archeological find at the site that the INPA cited as particularly impressive is the ancient Canaanite gate.
Built of mud bricks, the gate contains three arches that are considered the most ancient of their kind in the world.
On Monday, an archeological preservation team arrived to the site alongside Zuk, in order to assess the damage up close and advance a rehabilitation program for the site.
The rehabilitation activity will be conducted in cooperation with the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry’s heritage department and the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The hope is to fully restore the collapsed wall within a few months, Zuk told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday afternoon.
“There was a huge amount of rain in the last week, maybe more than 200 millimeters,” Zuk said. “That made the soil behind the wall expand. The soil pushed the wall and the wall collapsed.”
While the rehabilitation crew still needs to formulate a plan and secure a budget for their work, Zuk expressed confidence that the site would be restored for the public soon.
“Now we have a conservation team that will work on it,” he said.