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Ancient city gate uncovered in the Galilee of King David’s time

A 10th century BCE Galilee city gate through which King David may have walked to claim a bride was uncovered by archaeologists at the recently finished 2018 season of the Bethsaida Excavations Project, excavation director Prof. Rami Arav told The Times of Israel.

Standing at 3 meters, “it is the largest and the best preserved city gate [in Israel],” said Arav. Likewise, this year’s excavation provides evidence that Bethsaida, an Aramean settlement, houses one of the earliest towers incorporated in city walls in Israel, he said.

“In the entire archaeology of the Land of Israel from 10-8th century BCE, there are no towers on city walls. Israelites did not have this feature. This is the first example of towers surrounding a city in Israel,” Arav said.

Located north of the Sea of Galilee, Bethsaida is famously known as the site of Jesus’s miracle of the loaves and the fishes, as recounted in the Gospels of John and Matthew. Arav’s excavation is one of two dueling potential locations for this historical site.

Thousands of years earlier, however, Arav hypothesized, it may have been called Tzer (mentioned only once in antiquity, in Joshua 19:35), and was the historical capital of the biblical settlement of Geshur.

The Davidic period gate was in use from circa 11 century BCE to 920 BCE when the settlement was destroyed, said Arav. The Geshur settlement, which became a fortified city with a well-preserved royal palace, was re-inhabited after 875 BCE. “During this approximately 50 year period, the site was laid in ruin and not inhabited,” according to the dig’s 2016 field report.

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