A rare Gate Shrine from the 8th century BCE, which is the time of the First Temple, has been discovered by archaeologists at the Tel Lachish National Park in Israel. The Israel Antiquities Authority team made this unusual discovery during excavations designed to learn more while further developing the Tel Lachish site.
Decades ago a joint British and Israeli expedition had unearthed the northern part of the ancient Lachish city gate and the new excavations succeeded in exposing the gate completely showing that it formed a square of 24.5 x 24.5 m with a height of 4 m, and consisting of six chambers, three on each side as well as the city’s main street that passed between them.
The Tel Lachish National Park and gate structure that was unearthed. Photo credit:Guy Fitoussi/Israel Antiquities Authority
A seal impression on a jar handle reading “lnhm avadi”, probably the name of a senior official that was in the Judahite administration.
Photographic credit: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
After Jerusalem, Lachish was the most important city in the kingdom of Judea due to its position that guarded the main road from Jerusalem to Egypt and has been referred to in a number of Biblical accounts. The recently discovered City gate is the largest found in Israel to date and illustrates how, as research continues, well known biblical tales now become archaeological and historical stories.
During excavations researchers have discovered many smaller artifacts that include ancient bowls, utensils and dozens of pottery jars which have handles inscribed in ancient Hebrew script that are government seals. Of interest was one of the stamps that had the letters “lmlk hbrn” which meant “To the King of Hebron”.
A most important discovery is considered by the Archaeological team to be the one that tells the story of King Hezekiah of the Old Testament who was the instigator of severe religious reforms and in the Book of Kings it is written “He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles”( ll Kings 18:4). King Hezekiah purged the cult of pagan alters so that the people would worship only in Jerusalem at the altar of God.
The gate is not yet open to visitors and is covered temporarily for the purpose of conservation but the Israel Antiquities Authority is at present continuing development in preparation in opening it for visitors.