Bronze Age Village Uncovered in Highway Dig Near Kiryat Gat

An archeological excavation ahead of advancing highway construction crews in southern Israel turned up an 8,000-year-old Bronze Age settlement and the remains of a first century C.E. Jewish homestead, the Israel Antiquities Authority said yesterday.

Contractors working on a new trans-Israel highway asked the authority to carry out an exploratory dig at Ptora, in the archeologically rich region east of the town of Kiryat Gat, before earthmovers started ripping into the ground.

Kiryat Gat, founded in 1955, was named after the Philistine birthplace of the Biblical giant Goliath, which was believed to lie nearby, but most archeologists today believe Gath was located near Ashdod.

The authority said remnants found at the 1.75-acre Ptora site showed that its Bronze Age inhabitants engaged in agriculture, copper production and the making of ceramics, and that they occupied the settlement continuously until about 3,000 B.C.E.

Also unearthed at the site were the remains of a first century C.E. farmhouse, apparently abandoned by its Jewish occupants during the bloody revolt against Roman occupation in the year 70 C.E., the authority said. The building had an open court yard used as a kitchen, and two baths.