Archaeologists working at Ramat Rachel, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, say they have uncovered an ancient royal garden. They say this will be “the first full-scale excavation of this type of [an] archaeological site anywhere in the pre-Hellenistic Levant.”
According to Prof. Oded Lipschits and graduate student Boaz Gross of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology, this dig is an unparalleled look into the structure and function of ancient gardens. “We have uncovered a very rare find,” says Prof. Lipschits, who believes that this excavation will lead to invaluable archaeological knowledge about ancient royal gardens in the Middle East.
The discovery, which dates back to the 7th century B.C.E., was recently reported in Quadmoniot, the journal of the Israel Exploration Society, and another paper on the dig is forthcoming in Near Eastern Archaeology.
Read the news release in its entirety here.
The identity of Ramat Rachel with a specific Bible city is not known.
This photo shows some of the excavation area at Ramat Rachel after the 2009 season.
The elevation of Ramat Rachel is about 2684 feet above sea level. This gave the inhabitants a view of the ancient city of Jerusalem which was about 200 feet lower. Even on a less than clear day, you can see the Old City of Jerusalem on the far right of the photo below.
Ramat Rachel was inhabited from “the last century of the kingdom of Judah (7th century BCE) until the early Muslim reign in Palestine (10th century CE).” The excavators think the royal palace at Ramat Rachel was first built in the days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18-20). More information is available at the excavation web site here.