Most Israelis can still vividly recall the “Bahad 4” barracks, which during the 1970s was the Israeli army’s largest recruiting and training base. However, up until now no one was aware that this particular site has a much longer history.
Several weeks ago, staff members from the Archaeological Department of the Civil Administration that governs the West Bank arrived at the site where the barracks used to be in the small town of Beit El in Samaria. The barracks had already been demolished in 1995. When they started digging directly beneath the square that had formerly been the parade ground, archaeologists were astonished: they came across an ancient Jewish settlement that had been home to dozens of inhabitants during the First Temple period. It had also been populated during the time of Persian rule in the Land, and had later been expanded during the Hellenistic and Hasmonean eras. It had remained a Jewish town until the latter part of the Roman period.
“These findings are quite astonishing,” said Yevgeny Aharonovitch, the archaeologist who is leading the excavations. “We found door keys...
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