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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Second Temple village uncovered



Israeli archeologists have uncovered a 5,000-year-old Canaanite city and a 2,000-year-old Jewish village from the Second Temple period alongside each other in the Modi'in area.


The rural Jewish town uncovered at the site existed from about 100 BCE to 135 CE, until the Bar Kochba revolt, said archeologist Dr. David Amit. Several hundred people are estimated to have lived there, perhaps the extended members of five to eight families. Excavations at the ancient village have uncovered a 2,000-year-old street, Jewish coins from the time of the rebellion, and wine presses, as well as a mikve (Jewish spiritual bath). The mikve, which is still visible, was turned into a regular water well by pagans who lived at the 50-dunam village for several generations after the Jews vacated the area.

Adjacent to the Jewish village lies a 5,000-year-old Canaanite city from the Early Bronze Age, dating to approximately 3,000 BCE. The 70-80 dunam city, which was divided into a smaller upper and a larger lower level and was surrounded by a wall and watch towers, existed for up to 400 years, said Tel Aviv University archeologist Sarit Paz, who is heading the excavations at the site.

The well-planned city, which dates back to the time between Noah and Abraham, is thought to have been home to several hundred people. The builders of the nearby Jewish village used some of the original stones from the Canaanite city in building their own town, Paz said.

The impressive remnants of a 5,000-year-old street, an assortment of pottery and cutting vessels, flint Canaanite blades, stone beads, and a variety of colored juglets, have been uncovered by Paz and her team.

The Antiquities Authority says that the quality and extent of the finds uncovered during the three-month excavation at both sites is "unprecedented."