Troops discover First Age Temple observation post on training base



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IDF soldiers recently discovered a watchtower from the First Temple period during an archaeological dig at its base in southern Israel.

The tower, dating from the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah in the 8th century BC, was part of a network of observation posts that used torches as a means of sending messages between communities, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement on Wednesday .

The IAA said the watchtower, which was found at the Parachute Brigade training base, was built using specially large stones, some weighing up to eight tons, and located on high ground overlooking the Hebron, Judean Hills Hills and the coastal region. around Ashkelon.

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The excavation was carried out by soldiers at the base as part of an IDF initiative to encourage commanders and soldiers to be "responsible and actively involved in protecting the values ​​of nature, landscape and heritage in their environment."

About 150 soldiers undergoing basic training and their commanders participated in the project, according to the IAA, and the project was overseen by IAA officials Saar Ganor and Lifshitz Vladik.

Ganor and Vladik said that the tower appeared to be part of the torch communications system, as described in the Hebrew Bible.

"The strategic location of the tower served as a point of observation and alert [system] against the Philistine enemy, one of their main cities was Ashkelon, "said the IAA.

In this photo released by the Israeli Antiquities Authority on June 19, 2019, a former watch tower from the First Temple period is seen at the training base of the Parachute Brigade in southern Israel. (Antiquities Authority of Israel)

"The kingdom of Judah built a system of towers and fortresses that were a communications post, warning and signaling, as a way of transmitting messages and information from the field," they added.

According to the IAA, operations in the watchtower ceased in 701 BCE when the Assyrian king Sennacherib destroyed 46 cities and thousands of villages and farms during his military campaign in Judah. ​​During the excavation, it was discovered that the entrance to the tower had been sealed, with the IAA saying that the soldiers stationed there probably went to a nearby fortified city when the Assyrians invaded.

"About 2,700 years after Sennacherib's campaign, IDF soldiers discovered a watchtower for Judean army soldiers, very similar to the ones the army uses today," the statement said.

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