First Temple-era Jewish village and Byzantine monastery discovered under Israeli military training base

Israeli archaeologists unearthed a hidden Jewish village, dating to the First Temple-era, several weeks ago. The site, discovered under an abandoned Israeli Defense Forces training base near the town of Beit El in Samaria, was also likely home to a Byzantine-era monastery, reports

What the staff of the Archeology Department of the IDF Civil Administration discovered is believed to be a settlement of several dozen people, dating to the First Temple period of Jewish history. The First Temple was destroyed in the 6th century BC. The village was later inhabited during the Persian period, and developed in the Hellenistic and Hasmonean periods.

“The findings are amazing,” said Yevgeny Aharonovitch, an archaeologist of the Civil Administration. “We found keys for doors that were intended for housing units, we found tools that were used by Jews, and seal types belonging to the [Jewish] period.”

The site was abandoned for years, after remaining in Jewish hands up through the Roman era. Excavations also unearthed a church, a dining room, and a well-preserved bathhouse, presumably belonging to a Byzantine-era monastery. The Christian settlement lasted until the 7th century, when Muslims violently invaded and expelled the Christians. Remains from the Muslim period include warehouses with many olive oil jars used for trading.

According to Aharonovitch, the site was destroyed one last time in the great earthquake of 748 CE.