Buried Secrets in the Heart of Tel Aviv
Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have unearthed some very interesting historical artifacts at an ancient fortress in the city. The fortress, Tel Qudadi, located at the mouth of the Yarkon River, was first excavated over 70 years ago, but the finds were never published. New evidence from the site indicates a linkage between ancient Israel and the Greek island of Lesbos.
The fortress was an important part of the defense network that protected the Assyrian empire, which spread from Mesopotamia and ruled Israel in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C.E. This contradicts earlier studies which believed the fortress was built in the 10th century B.C.E. by King Solomon to protect inland settlements along the Yarkon River. The difference in time periods means huge differences as to the purpose of the fortress.
Because it was built by the Assyrian empire, it is believed to be an intermediate station on the sea route between Egypt, Philistia, and Phoenicia. It served Assyrian interests on the Levantine coast rather than the Israeli Kingdom. The Tel Aviv fortress shows that the Assyrians were active in international trade, and heavily invested in the establishment of trade routes as well as collecting its associated taxes.
However, one of the most interesting finds at the archaeological site is the finding of an amphora — a large jar used for the transport of oil or wine. The amphora can trace its origin back to the Greek island of Lesbos. It is the earliest example of the Lesbian artifact discovered so far in the Mediterranean.
The amphora was probably brought to the Tel Aviv fortress by a Phoenician ship. It does not prove direct trade between Israel and Lesbos, but rather shines a light on the beginnings of amphora production. It also has implications for understanding ancient commercial trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean.
"The secrets of this ancient fortress are only beginning to be revealed," Dr. Alexander Fantalkin and Dr. Oren Tal of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology say. Their research can be found in the Palestine Exploration Quarterly and BABESH: Annual Papers on Mediterranean Archaeology.
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