Biblical Archaeology Review 35:4, July/August September/October 2009
Issue 200

Ten Top Discoveries

Favorite finds throughout the years

Of course, we think every archaeological discovery reported in BAR is important—from the smallest seal or ostracon to the largest imposing fortress. But there’s no denying that some finds do stand out. The following ten examples are by no means exclusive; others would make different selections for their top ten. But that’s not to say they were chosen randomly.

Southern Israel

When we think about the great architects, engineers and builders of the ancient world, the Canaanites are generally not the first civilization to come to mind. The Egyptians had their pyramids and the Mesopotamians their ziggurats, but what architectural first did the Canaanites come up with?

In the summer of 1992, while excavating the Canaanite city of Ashkelon on the southern coast of Israel, archaeologist Lawrence E. Stager of Harvard University discovered what may be one of the great architectural achievements of the Canaanites: the oldest known monumental arch. The mudbrick arch, which measures 12 feet high and 8 feet wide, provided a vaulted passageway through the city’s massive Middle Bronze Age (2000–1550 B.C.) gate. The arched corridor was flanked by two imposing towers that are preserved to a height of nearly 20 feet.

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