Ancient wall in Israel matches up with Bible’s tale of Assyrian attack


Image: Brick wallArchaeologists say they have unearthed the remains of massive fortifications built about 2,700 years ago around an Iron Age Assyrian harbor in present-day Israel. The ruins appear to have a connection to Assyria’s takeover of the region, as mentioned in the Book of Isaiah.


“The fortifications appear to protect an artificial harbor,” Tel Aviv University‘s Alexander Fantalkin, leader of the excavations at the Ashdod-Yam archaeological dig, said in a news release issued Monday. “If so, this would be a discovery of international significance, the first known harbor of this kind in our corner of the Levant.”


The discovery was announced at the end of the first excavation season at Ashdod-Yam in the contemporary coastal city of Ashdod, just south of Tel Aviv. At the heart of the fortifications is a mud-brick wall measuring more than 12 feet wide (3.6 meters wide) in some places, and 15 feet (4.5 meters) high. The wall is covered in layers of mud and sand that stretch for hundreds of feet on either side.


When they were built in the 8th century B.C., the crescent-shaped fortifications would have defended an inland area covering more than 17 acres (7 hectares).




Age of Sargon II
During the late 8th century B.C., Assyrian King Sargon II ruled the entire southeastern part of the Mediterranean basin, including Egypt and the Middle East. Inscriptions tell of a Philistine king in Ashdod, named Yamani, who tried to organize a revolt against the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrians responded harshly, took control of Ashdod in 711 B.C. and eventually destroyed the city. As a result, power shifted to the nearby area of Ashdod-Yam, the site of the current excavations.


Tel Aviv University said the fortifications appear to be related to these events, although the precise relationship is not yet clear. They could have been built before or after the Ashdod rebellion was put down, either at the initiative of the local defenders or at the orders of the Assyrians.


Based on earlier excavations, the late Israeli archaeologist Jacob Kaplan concluded that the rebels built the fortifications in anticipation of the attack — but Fantalkin said the construction seems too monumental to have been done under such circumstances.


“An amazing amount of time and energy was invested in building the wall and glacis [embankments],” he said.


Staying out of the fight
Sargon II’s harsh action against Ashdod was mentioned in Isaiah 20, as a warning to those who backed the rebellion. “In that day, the people who live on this coast will say, ‘See what has happened to those we relied on, those we fled to for help and deliverance from the king of Assyria!'”


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2 replies

  1. Thanks for posting this. As an historian I know that too often conclusions are made before all the study is completed, but the archaeological activity in Israel remains fascinating. Believers do not need “Proofs” the Bible is true since we know the Author, but discoveries allow us a deeper view, a “humanization” of the Biblical accounts, and insights to the culture in which the Bible characters lived their lives. I took the time to read through the other recent findings because my busy life has left me out-of-date on these things. Much appreciated that you got me looking at these reports again…

    • No problem. I love to see these reports myself, and I thought it would benefit those who read. I am so busy for the last few months but it is all a blessing. Thanks for your friendship.
      God bless and guard you for the length of your life and keep you in His peace. Amen.

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