(ORDO NEWS) — In Israel, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a siege structure from the time of the Crusades, which eventually turned into a dam and for a whole millennium reliably protected the city of Ashkelon from the “attack” of the sand dunes.
The Haaretz edition spoke about the amazing archaeological discovery. The fact is that archaeologists have discovered an ancient engineering structure that has been in plain sight for centuries.
The discovery was reported by archaeologist Raphael Lewis of the University of Haifa. He drew attention to a huge dam located on the outskirts of the ancient city of Ashkelon in Israel. For many years it was considered natural.
Thanks to this dam, the desert cannot swallow the city, although the sand dunes are trying to crawl over it. New research has shown that the “natural” dam is actually a man-made structure. According to Lewis, this structure was a siege wall that was built in the XII or XIII centuries.
This probably happened during one of the sieges that this port city repeatedly experienced during the Crusades. According to the researchers, most likely, this massive structure was erected by the crusaders. But they admit that it could have been used, as well as completed and rebuilt by the Muslim troops, because the city passed from hand to hand.
At some point in time, this design lost its meaning, but no one bothered to demolish it. As it turned out, this only benefited the city. The wall of siege eventually turned into a powerful artificial barrier against desertification. It turns out that an exclusively military structure for almost a millennium has served peaceful purposes.
By the way, it was possible to identify the medieval siege wall without carrying out large-scale archaeological excavations. Lewis’ work relied on the results of field surveys of the area, carried out in 2010-2013, and analysis of aerial photographs of the 1940s.
“I was trying to understand how the agricultural landscape of Ashkelon was formed, – says the researcher. – I was really amazed when I saw aerial photographs and realized that there was some anomaly in this landscape, blocking the movement of sands.”
The anomaly interested the scientist so much that he began to study the period of the Crusades. Ashkelon was a thriving port city at the time. For millennia, it served as a gateway to the southern Levant.
It is believed that this city was built by the Canaanites during the Middle Bronze Age, about 4000 years ago. They were the first to erect defensive structures – these were the ramparts in the shape of the letter “D”, facing a vertical line along the coast. The arch was turned inland.
These Canaanite ramparts formed the center of the city and served for millennia. They were restored and strengthened by many subsequent peoples, including the Philistines, Romans and Byzantines. And about a thousand years ago, Muslims and crusaders began to rebuild these structures.
This ancient mound did not provide a reliable protection from the sand dunes. Photographs from the 1940s show that desert sand crossed the vertical line of the letter “D”. But halfway to the arch he stopped strangely. Moreover, this blockage took place right in front of the Jerusalem Gate, which was once the main entrance to the city.
Analysis showed that the sands were stopped by the siege rampart. Lewis estimated its length was about 200 meters, and its height varied from eight to ten meters. If you look at it from a bird’s eye view, you can see that to the south of this structure the entire space is covered with dunes, and to the north there are green fertile lands.
This structure was erected in the form of a giant ramp, along which siege towers and battering rams could be rolled up to the city wall. Such structures are not at all uncommon for Israel. The most famous of these is the “ramp” at Masada, which some scholars believe may have been built by the Romans during the First Jewish Revolt in 73 AD.
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