Biblical Layers: Tels in Israel

Dutch Goes the Photo has a weekly Tuesday Photo Challenge; the theme this week is Layer.

Israel is full of archaeological layers, called tels. We saw several of these when we toured Israel last month, including Hazor, Meggido and others. These were cities or communities built over time one on top of the other. The original city was generally built on a natural mound or hill of land in a defendable location. The sides of the hill would be reinforced and the city built on top. After a war, the city would be leveled by fire or other destructive force, and a new city built on top of it. This cycle is repeated several times over the course of time. There was an advantage in building on top of a previous city in that the infrastructure (such as water supply) would already be intact and the stones used for the buildings were readily available. Archaeologists can learn much of the history of a place by excavating and studying these tels.

One good example of a tel is at the archaeological site of Hazor. This sign, although hard to read on this photo, shows a timeline on the left side which indicate the periods during which Hazor was occupied, and the written text next to it speaks of two distinct periods.
20190109_101731d.jpgPhotographically, the best example I have of this layered construction is found at an archaeological site in Old Jerusalem. By looking down or up at the site, the layers of occupation are easy to see.

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At the very top is the level of the present day city of Jerusalem. The walls on either side are from Biblical times. The bottom layer is the oldest and in this spot is mostly unexcavated rubble.

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Flights of stairs lead up to each layer of the site.

Here is a close up of a wall of an ancient temple, with layers of bricks.
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Another example of layers can be seen at Masada. Throughout the site, there is a black line which divides the original layer of the structures from the reconstructed layer on top of it.

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Below the jagged black line is the original construction as it was found after thousands of years. The buildings were reconstructed with similar materials and technique above this line.

For more information about tels, see The Tel (Mound)
and Biblical Tels: Meggido, Hazor and Beer Sheba.

For more about Hazor, Masada and Jerusalem, stay tuned for future posts on this blog!

8 thoughts on “Biblical Layers: Tels in Israel

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