JERUSALEM, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- Israeli archaeologists discovered a 5,500-year-old city gate in the south of the country, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The gate, the earliest known in the ancient land of Israel, was found during excavations at the Tel Erani archaeological site that were conducted ahead of government works to lay a water pipe near the city of Kiryat Gat.
Tel Erani, occupying an area of about 150,000 square meters, was an important urban center in the region in the Early Bronze period.
The gate was part of the city's fortification system, reflecting the beginning of urbanization in the Southern Levant, the IAA noted.
The preserved part of the gate, which is 1.5 meters tall and attached to the ancient city walls uncovered in previous excavations, includes a passageway built of large stones that leads into the city. The gate was flanked by two stone towers, between which are rows of mudbricks.
The researchers said that the creation of the fortification demanded a substantial labor force to transport the stones from a distant location, manufacture mudbricks, and construct the defensive walls and the gate.
They added all those who wanted to enter the city, including travelers, traders, or enemies, likely had to go through this gate.
More than just a defensive structure, the gate conveys a clear message that anyone passes through it was entering a significant and well-structured settlement, with strong political, social, and economic foundations, according to the archaeologists.
Before the newly discovered gate, the earliest gate known in Israel dated about 300 years, which was located at Tel Arad, also in the south. ■