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Bible Archaeology: Cities of Ancient Israel
Bible archaeology finds its ultimate significance in the cities of ancient Israel. Mentioned more than 50 times in the Bible, Jericho was the initial entry point into the Promised Land for the Israelite people (Joshua 6). Archaeology has now confirmed the location of this fortified city of walls and towers that guarded entry to the land of Canaan from the east. Shechem was an important city throughout the Old Testament. In fact, Jeroboam made it the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 10th century BC (1 Kings 12:25). Excavations have uncovered huge walls and a fortified gate system containing such important finds as the temple of Baal from the story of Abimelech (Judges 9:46). Excavations in the north have also revealed the city of Dan , which was a Canaanite stronghold conquered by Israel (specifically, the tribe of Dan) around 1150 BC (Judges 18). The rebuilt city, which became the northern boundary of Israel, has delivered a wealth of artifacts with biblical importance. The southern boundary of Israel was Beersheba , which became a fortified city during the period of King Solomon (1 Kings 4:25). Excavations between 1969 and 1976 have revealed massive walls, gates, wells and storehouses consistent with biblical accounts. The ancient city of Jerusalem , dating to the time of King David's initial conquest, was discovered and excavated between 1978 and 1985. Prior to this time, nothing apart from the Bible was known about King David's Jerusalem, which has now revealed a palace, towers and the famous Siloam spring (2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles). The ancient ruins of Gibeah were discovered about three miles north of Jerusalem. Gibeah was the home to Saul and the tribe of Benjamin, and later became King Saul's capital city (Judges 19 and 1 Samuel 10-15). Excavations have revealed Saul's fortress palace dated to about 1100 BC.