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Middle Bronze Age - 22001550 BC

In the Middle Bronze Age, at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, a rich urban civilization reappeared in the Land, and fortified city-states once again dotted the country. In written documents, the Land is called Canaan for the first time. Some scholars have suggested that this period, during which pastoral, tribal societies lived on the outskirts of Canaan s large cities, should be seen as the backdrop for the biblical stories of the Patriarchs.

Nazareth was settled from the Middle Bronze Age onwards and silos, cisterns and oil presses show that it has been an agricultural village for several millennia. As with the tenth century, there are hardly any remains from the Late Bronze Age II (14th-13th century BC). nly a handful of Late Bronze Age II pottery and a few building fragments have been unearthed in the extensive excavations in the Late Bronze Age II city of Jerusalem. Difficulty is encountered in recovering strata that developed peacefully and did not end with catastrophe.

The mound of the biblical city of Dan is located at the foot of Mount Hermon in the northeast of the country. The fertility of the area around Dan is mentioned in the Bible: For we have seen the Land, and behold, it is very good. (Judges 18:9) The site extends over an area of 200 dunams (50 acres). The Dan river, one of the sources of the Jordan river, emerges at the foot of the mound. These natural advantages and its location on the main trade route from the Galilee to Damascus made Dan the most important city of the northern part of the Kingdom of Israel. Today it is one of the most attractive archeological sites in Israel. Every year since 1966, large areas have been excavated; the discoveries are of special importance for understanding the biblical narrative which repeatedly mentions the city of Dan.

During the Canaanite period the city was known by the name Leshem (Joshua 19:47) or Laish (Judges 18:29). During the 18th century BCE, Laish was fortified with huge man-made earthen embankments which created ramparts encircling the entire city. The ramparts of Canaanite Dan constitute one of the best examples of the defense systems common in that period. On the eastern side of the city, an intact city gate complex was preserved, consisting of two towers flanking a recessed arched gateway. Stone steps led from the outside to the 2.4 m. wide entrances. The 18th century BCE ramparts with the gate provided adequate defense for Canaanite Laish. During this period, the patriarch Abraham came to the city, after defeating the kings of the north who took his nephew Lot prisoner. (Genesis14:14)

In the Middle Bronze Age (first half of the 2nd century BC), Gezer became one of the foremost cities in the Land of Israel. The entire tel was surrounded by a massive wall constructed of large blocks of stone 4 m. wide, with strong towers erected at intervals along it. This fortification wall (known as the "inner wall") was protected on the outside by an earthen rampart some 5 m. high, consisting of compacted alternating layers of chalk and earth covered with plaster. The city gate was located near the southwestern corner of the wall and consisted of two towers and three pairs of pilasters on which wooden gates were mounted (as was common in that period).

At the center of the northern part of the tel was an unusual cultic area. A row of ten monolithic stone steles - the tallest 3 m. high - stood at its center, oriented north-south. A large, square, stone basin that has been interpreted as serving for libations in cultic ceremonies, was found in front of one of the steles. This is a unique Canaanite temple of mazzeboth (standing stones), both in terms of the number of steles and their size. The researchers suggest that the stones represent the city of Gezer and nine other Canaanite cities; rituals related to a treaty between these cities were probably performed here. The Canaanite city at Gezer was destroyed in a violent conflagration, traces of which were found in all excavation areas of the tel. It is assumed that the destruction was the result of the campaign of the Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2011 19:19:40 ZULU