Prof. Yosef Garfinkel states that current excavations at Tel Lachish have discovered a new, earlier entrance to the city on the northeast side of the tel. This is the opposite side of the mound from the known Iron Age gate.
People who have visited Tel Lachish will recognize the Iron Age gate in the photo below. It lies on the southwest side of the tel and was discovered in the 1930’s by Starkey and Tufnell. This gate and its approach ramp relate to the city levels destroyed by Sennacherib of Assyria in 701 BC and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 587/6 BC.
Garfinkel believes the northeast section of the tel would have been a natural entrance point to the city in earlier times. The 2014 excavations exposed and clarified ancient fortifications in this area. Garfinkel gives the newly-discovered entrances a preliminary dating to the early Iron and Middle Bronze ages. (Biblically, this is the period ranging from the early kingdom years back to the Patriarchs.) The 2014 season at Lachish was cut short by the Israel-Hamas conflict, so these new entrances will be excavated in the 2015 season.
Gates are important discoveries for several reasons. They are key fortification points and can provide useful data on the defenses and layout of related city levels. City gates were also centers for trade, exchange, tax collection, worship/cultic practice, legal matters, and record keeping. Traces of these activities may be unearthed through excavation and illuminate much about ancient cultures. One prime example is the famous collection of Lachish Letters found in the southwestern gate of Tel Lachish back in the 1930’s.
Photos of the new northeast entrance(s) may become available later this year. This blog will monitor and provide updates as they become available.