Archaeological uncover ancient megalopolis in Israel

A once booming city over 5,000 years old located near a northern suburb in Israel has become home to a two year excavation that was originally intended to be a roadway project. Archaeologists are excavating and piecing together a place once capable of holding 6,000 residents and comparable to some of the world’s biggest megalopolises of modern times. Known as En Esur, the site has furthered our understanding of development and management of large scale cities and civilizations.

The site is located near a small town called Harish, where workers had been digging in preparation of a new highway. Once they realized what they had unearthed, archaeologists came in and began to cautiously excavate an ancient city, discovering interesting artifacts and finding an older city underneath the site that was dated at around 7,000 years old. The age suggests that En Esur might be one of the first major cities in existence, meaning that many historians will have to adjust their timelines as cities of such complexity were not believed to exist in this area during the Bronze Age.

Archaeologists, assisted by over 5,000 volunteers, have excavated the site in order to complete work within the two year project timeframe assigned by the Israel Antiquities Authority. However, workers are mindful of ancient artifacts and attempt to preserve these symbols of rich human history so that they can be used to their fullest potential.

“It’s essential that we maintain sites like En Esur because without them we’ll never be able to fully understand the past,” said Nathan Johnson, a first-year student at Guilford.

With even more left to uncover, archaeologists are confident that En Esur is one of the most significant sites in the region, providing a glance back into the Bronze Age and filling in some historical gaps.

“Already they’ve found evidence of technology more advanced than previously thought,” said Julian Maycock, a first-year at Guilford.

This find comes only months after the announcement of a similar spot near the town of Motza. By excavating, archaeologists determined the site to be 9,000 years old, but it’s living capacity was about 3,000 less than that of En Esur’s.

According to archaeologist Lauren Davis, “spaces used for worship” and a “prehistoric alleyway” were identified at the site near Motza, meaning humans thoughtfully planned urban development. Evidence of domesticated animals was also found among a conglomeration of ancient tools thought to be used for farming or hunting.

“They were able to do so much with the other site (Motza), so who knows what else they’ll find at En Esur, which is even bigger,” said Abdullah Shahid, a student at Guilford.

As of right now, our understanding of ancient humans in the Bronze Age has changed significantly thanks to En Esur. With two announced finds in the same region only two months apart, there is no doubt that the future’s looking bright for archaeologists as they unlock the secrets of the past.


Editor’s note: This story originally was published in Volume 106, Issue 3 of The Guilfordian on Oct. 18, 2019.