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November 26, 2014 8:10 am

Second Temple Era Military Outpost Discovered, Possibly Destroyed by Alexander the Great

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avatar by Tzvi Zucker / Tazpit News Agency

Discovered ruins of a Persian era military installation. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority Spokesperson.

Archaeological excavations in Israel’s Netiv Haasarah have uncovered a Persian era military installation.

Netiv Haasarah is a town in the “Gaza envelope” with a population of about 700. The dig, headed by Dr. Yael Abadi Rice, found a fortified town and a military tower from approximately 2,100 years ago. This time period was when the Second Temple was standing in Jerusalem.

“It seems this was a military outpost,” Dr. Rice told Tazpit News Agency. “Besides for the army stationed there, people were sent there to work the area on the road from Ashkelon to Gaza.”

Besides the military tower, the outpost also included residential buildings and warehouses. The tower, built of limestone and mud bricks, was found with a partially preserved staircase. Inside the warehouses, archaeologists were surprised to find intact pottery and stone utensils, as well as oil and wine jars.

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“The site shows the military being pushed back. It seems they ran away in a hurry, as they left everything behind,” Dr. Rice explained. “It may have been Alexander the Great, and it may have been a little earlier. We are working to understand who it was that attacked the outpost.”

Both the town and the tower were destroyed in a violent fashion. A layer of ash shows they were burnt.

The dig will prepare a parcel of land for a new neighborhood in the town. The area was particularly hard hit by rocket fire during the summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Dr. Rice said, “It is truly nice to see that despite the wars here, people keep coming back here to rebuild, and to live.”

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