For the past two and a half years, archaeologists have worked day and night in their bid to uncover the 5000-year-old city of En Esur, a massive Bronze Age settlement discovered in Israel. Newsweek reports that many experts believe the city is roughly 10 times bigger than Jericho, and is being described as the “Early Bronze Age New York”. A 7,000 year old temple was discovered alongside it.
En Esur is located in what is now the Haifa District in Northern Israel. En Esur is an archaeological site that displays incredibly sophisticated urban planning on behalf of its inhabitants. Spanning more than 160 acres, this ancient city would have housed around 6,000 people, a jump up from the ancient towns of Megiddo and Jericho in the south of Israel.
The impressive skill of En Esur’s city planners is demonstrated by the expansive network of streets, which were covered in plaster and stone to prevent flooding. The city also used large silos for long-term food shortage, and the fact that it was built near a temple 2,000 years older than it, shows that there was a level of long-term forethought and planning before they began their build.
The Directors of the Israel Antiquities Authority stated, “There is no doubt that this site dramatically changes what we know about the character of the period and the beginning of urbanization of Israel.” En Esur would have been one of the earliest cities in the southern Levant, and also the largest – by a mile.
While excavating the temple, archaeologists also made the discovery of objects that would most likely have been used during religious rituals. Charred animal bones were mostly the subjects of sacrifice, and large stone basins would have had liquids. According to Haaretz, these stone basins weighed between 15 and 20 tons, and would have been carried from a site over a mile a way. When a massive Bronze Age city is discovered in Israel, or anywhere for that matter, we know that it will have huge implications on discussions about ancient history in that region.
What does this mean?
En Esur is the largest city ever discovered in the southern Levantine region in the Middle East. It’s remarkably advanced for the period of time that it would have been built in, and was probably occupied by upwards of 6,000 people. We know that the 7,000 year old temple discovered near the site would have had religious significance to the people of En Esur, but what kind of religious significance we don’t know (some are assuming that Ancient Mesopotamia reached down further than we thought). What we do know, is that when a massive Bronze Age city is discovered in Israel, there’s bound to be a significant impact on the way we look at the history of the region.