Israel Bible: Assyrian Dig Might Match Up With Book of Isaiah

Wednesday, 21 Aug 2013 08:10 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Israeli archeologists have discovered what remains of an Assyrian fortification, believed to have been built some 2,700 years ago, that might match up with a story from the Bible.

The wall was part of a massive structure that was constructed around a man-made Assyrian harbor, which is now located in present day Israel, NBC News reported.

"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."

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The dig is being conducted in the coastal city of Ashdod, just 25 miles south of Tel Aviv.

At the center of the Assyrian fortification is a 12-foot wide mud-brick wall that in some places measures 15 feet high and stretches for hundreds of feet in either direction.

With its crescent shape, the 8th century B.C. fortification was designed to protect at least 17 acres from an attack, NBC News reported.

At the time the fort was in use, the entire southeastern part of the Mediterranean basin, which included Egypt and the Middle East, was under the rule of Assyrian King Sargon II.

Inscriptions discovered by the archeologists detail a Philistine king in Ashdod named Yamani who attempted to organize a revolt against the Assyrian Empire. The insurrection was swiftly put down and the ancient city was destroyed in 711 B.C.

Assyria's subsequent conquering of the region is mentioned in the Bible's Book of Isaiah.

The recently unearthed fortifications are connected to the revolt and conquest of the area, according to Israeli archeologists at Tel Aviv University. Exactly who built the structures, however, and for what purpose has yet to be definitively determined.

The massive wall could have been built by the rebels to repel an Assyrian invasion of the port city, or possibly at the behest of Assyrian overlords following the conquest, in order to ward off future incursions by area revolutionaries.

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The late Israeli archaeologist Jacob Kaplan argued that the walls were constructed by the rebels in defense of the city against the invading Assyrian army, while Fantalkin, based on his excavations of the site, felt it was too monumental of a project to be constructed in a rushed manner by rebels.

"An amazing amount of time and energy was invested in building the wall and glacis [embankments]," Fantalkin said in the press release, NBC News reported.

Related stories:

King David's Palace Found, Says Israeli Team

Israel's Locust Invasion from Egypt Comes Weeks before Passover

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