Ruin town at Lake Gennesaret surprises researchers

Iron Age city much more developed and differentiated than expected

Excavation in Tel Kinrot © University of Mainz
Read out

So far, the period from 1150 BC was considered a period of decline - at least for the people who lived along the lake Gennesaret in Israel today. At most, small farming villages could have existed according to archaeologists. But an excavation since 2003 has now discovered the remains of a clearly sophisticated city from that period.

Since 2003, excavation teams from the Universities of Mainz, Helsinki, Bern and Leiden have been investigating Tel Kinrot, the site of the biblical Kinneret. The ruins are located on the northwest shore of Lake Gennesaret in close proximity to the New Testament places Magdala and Capernaum. In this largest European excavation project in Israel, in which this year 70 students and researchers from a total of 14 nations are involved, it was now possible for the Iron Age I (1150 - 950 BC) to prove that the ruins are at a city with a highly differentiated life of the ancient inhabitants. Thus, this place is completely different from the other locations in the country.

All major cities in the country were around 1200/1175 BC. Abandoned and abandoned. The reason for this was above all the collapse of international trade, which had previously led to a degree of prosperity in the relatively poor region of the southern Levant. In place of large cities such as Hazor and Lachish were in the 12th Century BC. small villages founded in the mountains, which largely supplied themselves and no longer continue the division of labor process. In these small villages, the current research sees a nucleus of the later state of Israel, which was founded by David and Solomon in the 10th century BC. was built.

Differentiated city life

"In view of the general finding situation in the whole country our findings are a small sensation, " says Stefan Münger, one of the excavation leaders. "This year we will complete our work on the early Iron Age shifts and can prove a very developed city in this epoch." In total, two large fields, each with about 1, 000 square meters of area have been uncovered, providing a very vivid insight into the everyday life of the city at the time of the judges and the first kings of Israel and Judas.

"We interpret a complex of buildings as a bakery, because we found three ovens there alone, millstones for grain processing and probably grain residues, " adds Münger. Even otherwise, life was highly organized in this city, which was at least about ten acres in size and in the past about 2, 500 people lived. In one house there was an olive press, in another maybe a tannery. The map is extremely well planned. The roads each run diagonally to the slope, to drain off the water in case of rainfall to the lake. The massive city wall with up to 12.3 meters of strength made the location almost impregnable. The city seems to have lived heavily on the trade, because with the help of ceramics, relations can be demonstrated, above all, with Ph nizia and Syria, but also with Cyprus and even with Egypt. display

Earthquakes and fire preserved everyday life

"We have the great fortune that the city was completely destroyed by an earthquake and associated fire and so the daily life in the Iron Age I is well preserved, " adds Juha Pakkala, also excavation leader on this settlement hill. "There is hardly another place where you can reconstruct this as well as here. We are here in a time when you can hardly hope for written material. Therefore, we have to reconstruct the everyday life of human beings only on the basis of findings and findings. "These make it probable that the city formed an important role within the gradually emerging Aramaic states and at that time not belonged to Israel. In the 10th century BC. The city was then destroyed and left for more than a hundred years.

The Kinneret Regional Project intends to continue its research on the settlement hill and surrounding areas for several years to better understand the cultural history of the region on the northwest shore of Lake Gennesarets. This includes landscape archaeological investigations, in which the large region around the lake is examined. In addition to the further work in Tell Kinrot smaller excavations are planned in other places in the small region.

(University of Mainz, 28.08.2007 - NPO)