This post has some clarifications on the entrance architecture uncovered at Tel Lachish this season. I described the entrances as “gates” but the excavators prefer a different term for one of them. Here is the text of a message I received from Yossi Garfinkel regarding these openings in the city wall.
Finally we completed the last points we needed to check before closing the season. Because of the fighting we were not permitted to take aerial photos of the site.
I read your blog and you can correct the information about the “gates” and their dating. Gate is a big word, and usually a gate has chambers on both sides. Currently we do not have indications of chambers, so we might have simple openings in the city wall rather than official gates.
The earlier one, already identified and published by Olga Tufnell as “blocked Iron Age,” is probably a Middle Bronze blocked gate. Next season I hope to excavate it and verify its plan.
The second opening in a city wall was found this season. It is dated to Level I (Persian) and Level II (586 BC destruction), so this opening is not “Early Iron Age” as you wrote.
To sum up, we have a newly-discovered Iron Age entrance that dates to the late-6th century BC and afterward. The “early” IA dating was a misunderstanding on my part. Another entrance below it has been preliminarily re-dated from the IA to the Middle Bronze Age. It was noted in the 1930’s but never excavated. Both entrances are located in the city wall on the NE corner of Tel Lachish, fully opposite from the known IA gate complex associated with Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar’s campaigns. The IA opening so far shows no evidence of gate chambers or related architecture. The IA and MB entrances are to be explored in the 2015 season and beyond.
This architecture is significant. There appears to be a significant gap (ca. 1000 years) in the dates of these two entrances. Perhaps we will find something in the next year or two that fills in the blank. Architecture from the earlier Iron Age, particularly Level 5, has been elusive so far and there is much debate about the habitation of Lachish between the 10th and 8th centuries BC. If the NE corner was an entrance to the city during and after the Middle Bronze period, we may find some answers in the near future.
Here are photos of these entrances.
The re-dated (Middle Bronze?) entrance at the end of the second excavation week of the 2014 season. The opening is blocked by collapsed stones. The line of the entrance runs down the center of the photo. (Photo by Luke Chandler)
The re-dated entrance after further cleaning. This blocked gate was first mentioned by Olga Tufnell from the First Lachish Expedition in the 1930’s. She classified it as a blocked Iron Age gate but the expedition never excavated further. Work in this area during the 2014 season has led Garfinkel to re-date it from the Iron Age (the biblical “Kingdom Period”) to the Middle Bronze Age (ca. the time of the biblical patriarchs). (Photo courtesy of the Fourth Tel Lachish Expedition)
The newly-discovered entrance that lies above the blocked Middle Bronze (?) gate. This entrance appears in a large wall but there is currently no indication of gate architecture. This is currently dated to Levels I and II in the Lachish strata. The 2015 excavation season should provide more information about this entrance and anything else around or just below it. (Photo courtesy of the Fourth Tel Lachish Expedition)
The newly-discovered Iron Age entrance at the end of the 2014 season. This is a ca. 3-meter opening in the wall on the edge of the NE slope, but appears to lack interior chambers. Excavators prefer to label this as an “entrance” rather than an official city gate. (Photo courtesy of the Fourth Tel Lachish Expedition)