The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the discovery of Israel’s earliest known gate, an impressive stone and mud-brick building leading to the ancient city of Tel Erani. This is a monumental archaeological discovery. The 5,500-year-old discovery was uncovered during pre-pipeline excavations close to Kiryat Gat’s industrial area.
During their dig near Tel Erani, the researchers not only discovered the gate but also a section of a defensive system from the Early Bronze Age, which dates back about 3,300 years. This amazing discovery provides important new information on the development and strategic defence of ancient urban centres.
This massive gate from the Early Bronze IB era, according to Emily Bischoff, Director of the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, is a ground-breaking find. This is the first time a gate from the Early Bronze IB period of this size has been discovered. Stones had to be transported from a distance, mudbricks had to be made, and the defensive walls had to be built before the gate could be built. This was not accomplished by just one or a few people. According to Bishchoff, the fortification system is proof of social organisation and the start of urbanisation.
According to Martin-David Pasternak, a researcher for the Israel Antiquities Authority, the gate undoubtedly acted as a crucial checkpoint for everyone entering the city, including commerce and possible enemies.
Dr. Yitzhak Paz, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority who specialises in the Early Bronze Age, stresses the significance of the discovery in reframing the start of urbanisation in the area. “During the Early Bronze age, Tell Erani, which is around 150 dunams in size, was a significant early urban centre in this region. During this time, the Tell site was a component of a sizable and significant settlement network in the southwest of the nation. We can spot the early indicators of urbanisation within this system, such as settlement planning, social stratification, and public construction,” Paz stated.
“The recently discovered gate is a significant finding that influences the timing of the start of the country’s urbanisation development. The beginning of urbanisation was previously dated to the end of the fourth millennium BCE by the Israel Antiquities Authority, but recent excavations at Tell Erani have revealed that this process actually started even earlier, in the last third of the fourth millennium BCE.
Within the region of Kiryat Gat, Tel Erani, a 150-dunam (37-acre) site with connections to the ancient Philistines, appears as a crucial early urban centre. The city, which was located close to modern-day Kiryat Gat, perished in the sixth century BCE, most likely as a result of devastation by the Babylonians.
This archaeological achievement reveals not only the wonders of ancient architecture but also the layers of historical development, providing a window into the advancement of urbanisation and civilization in antiquity.