Overhead shot of Tel Kabri

Overhead shot of Tel Kabri

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1947–1949 Palestine war

The 1947–1949 Palestine war was a war fought in the territory of Palestine under the British Mandate. It is known in Israel as the War of Independence (Hebrew: מלחמת העצמאות ‎, Milkhemet Ha'Atzma'ut) and in Arabic as a central component of the Nakba. [a] [11] [12] [13] It is the first war of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the broader Arab–Israeli conflict. During this war, the British Empire withdrew from Mandatory Palestine, which had been part of the Ottoman Empire until 1917. The war culminated in the establishment of the State of Israel by the Jews, and saw a complete demographic transformation of the territory the Jews occupied, with the displacement of around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs and the destruction of most of their urban areas. [14] Many Palestinian Arabs ended up stateless, displaced either to the Palestinian territories captured by Egypt and Jordan or to the surrounding Arab states many of them, as well as their descendants, remain stateless and in refugee camps.

  • Israeli victory
  • Jordanian marginal victory [3][4]
  • Palestinian Arab defeat
  • Egyptian defeat
  • Arab League strategic failure and Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries
  • Establishment of the State of Israel beyond the borders proposed by the Partition Plan
  • Establishment of All-Palestine Government in the Gaza Strip under Egyptian patronage
  • Jordanian rule of West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Syrian foothold North and South of Sea of Galilee

Before 26 May 1948
Paramilitary groups:

After 26 May 1948:
Israel Defense Forces


Holy War Army
(before 15 May 1948)
(after 15 May 1948)

The territory that was under British administration before the war was divided between the State of Israel, which captured about 78% of it, the Kingdom of Jordan (then known as Transjordan), which captured and later annexed the area that became the West Bank, and Egypt, which captured the Gaza Strip, a coastal territory on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in which the Arab League established the All-Palestine Government.

The war had two main phases, the first being the 1947–1948 civil war in Mandatory Palestine, which began on 30 November 1947, [15] a day after the United Nations voted to divide the territory of Palestine into Jewish and Arab sovereign states, and an international Jerusalem (UN Resolution 181), which the Jewish leadership accepted, and the Palestinian Arab leaders, as well as the Arab states, unanimously opposed. [16] This phase of the war is described by historians as the "civil", "ethnic" or "intercommunal" war, as it was fought mainly between Jewish and Palestinian Arab militias, supported by the Arab Liberation Army and the surrounding Arab states. Characterised by guerrilla warfare and terrorism, it escalated at the end of March 1948 when the Jews went on the offensive and concluded with their defeating the Palestinians in major campaigns and battles, establishing clear frontlines. During this period the British still maintained a declining rule over Palestine and occasionally intervened in the violence. [17] [18]

The British Empire scheduled its withdrawal and abandonment of all claims to Palestine for 14 May 1948. On that date, when the last remaining British troops and personnel departed the city of Haifa, the Jewish leadership in Palestine declared the establishment of the State of Israel. This declaration was followed by the immediate invasion of Palestine by the surrounding Arab armies and expeditionary forces in order to prevent the establishment of Israel and to aid the Palestinian Arabs, who were on the losing side at that point, with a large portion of their population already fleeing or being forced out by the Jewish militias.

The invasion marked the beginning of the second phase of the war, the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The Egyptians advanced on the southern coastal strip and were halted near Ashdod the Jordanian Arab Legion and Iraqi forces captured the central highlands of Palestine. Syria and Lebanon fought several skirmishes with the Israeli forces in the north. The Jewish militias, organised into the Israel Defense Forces, managed to halt the Arab forces. The following months saw fierce fighting between the IDF and the Arab armies, which were being slowly pushed back. The Jordanian and Iraqi armies managed to maintain control over most of the central highlands of Palestine and capture East Jerusalem, including the Old City. Egypt's occupation zone was limited to the Gaza Strip and a small pocket surrounded by Israeli forces at Al-Faluja. In October and December 1948, Israeli forces crossed into Lebanese territory and pushed into Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, encircling the Egyptian forces near Gaza City. The last military activity happened in March 1949, when Israeli forces captured the Negev desert and reached the Red Sea. In 1949, Israel signed separate armistices with Egypt on 24 February, Lebanon on 23 March, Transjordan on 3 April, and Syria on 20 July. During this period the flight and expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs continued.

In the three years following the war, about 700,000 Jews immigrated to Israel from Europe and Arab lands, with one third of them having left or been expelled from their countries of residence in the Middle East. [19] [20] [21] These refugees were absorbed into Israel in the One Million Plan. [22] [23] [24] [25]

Preliminary Results of the 2005-2008 Seasons at Tel Kabri, Israel

The Kabri Archaeological Project was initiated in 2005 under the direction of Assaf Yasur-Landau, now of Haifa University, and Eric H. Cline of The George Washington University. Four seasons of excavation, survey, and study have taken place so far, during the summers of 2005-2008, with funding and equipment generously provided by the Institute of Aegean Prehistory, the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, UC Santa Cruz, and The George Washington University.

During the Middle Bronze Age, ca. 2000-1550 BCE, Tel Kabri was the center of a Canaanite polity located within what is now the western Galilee of Israel, five kilometers east of the Mediterranean Sea. Excavations conducted by Aharon Kempinski and Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier from 1986-1993 revealed the remains of domestic structures, a massive earthen rampart, and a large building identified by them as a palace on the basis of parallels with similar structures found at Alalakh in north Syria and elsewhere, all dating to the Middle Bronze (MB) period. They dated the palace to the MB II period and believed that it was preceded by the remains of an earlier MB I well-built structure, named by them the “proto-palace.”

Map of MB I-II Sites

Within the palace were discovered Aegean-style floor and wall paintings, dating to the final part of the MB II period. Such evidence for artistic connections between the cultures of the ancient Aegean and Canaan is unique in Israel. It is also very rare elsewhere, existing outside the Aegean only in Egypt at Tel el-Dab’a, the capital city of the Hyksos, and at the sites of Alalakh and Qatna in Syria.

Initial magnetometer and conductivity surveys undertaken by Makovski and Yasur-Landau in 2003 indicated that as much as half of the MB II palace remains unexcavated. These circumstances create a very favorable situation where we have a possible Canaanite palace and proto-palace built directly on top of one another with no significant later remains above. This presents a rare opportunity, unique in Israel, to investigate two key sets of questions in the study of the Bronze Age world system in the eastern Mediterranean.

The first set of questions concerns the evolution of social complexity in the Middle Bronze Age and the role of exogenous versus endogenous factors in the rise of Canaanite rulership. Was the development of palatial culture a long and slow evolution extending through most of the MB I, or was it a rapid process, inspired by Syro-Mesopotamian traditions? Furthermore, a continuum of palatial structures standing one on top of the other would enable us to examine aspects of rulership that have not been previously investigated in the Middle Bronze Age southern Levant, such as the role of feasting and iconography in the negotiation and maintenance of political power, specifically at Tel Kabri.

A second set of questions relates to the nature of Aegean interactions with the site. The Kabri wall frescoes were shown by Niemeier to belong to the miniature style, with direct parallels to pre-eruption, LM IA Santorini. Thus, the absolute chronology of the Kabri frescoes may yield an important anchor connecting east and west, as well as possible insights on the absolute chronology of the Santorini eruption. At the same time, we wished to investigate the mechanism of cultural transmission between west and east which culminated in the Kabri frescoes. Was it a one-time event or was it the result of more prolonged contact with the Aegean world?

Regional Study

Our 2006 and 2007 regional study of the western part of the upper Galilee, the area of the kingdom of Kabri, yielded intriguing insights into the process of the rise and fall of this polity. During these seasons, the survey team visited 28 Middle Bronze Age sites in the area of Kabri and accurately recorded their size using GPS, following the boundaries of each site according to the surface distribution of MB II pottery. An analysis of unpublished pottery in the IAA storerooms, gathered by Dr. Rafi Frankel and others during four decades of visits to the sites, provided the settlement history of the region during the MB I, MB II, and the Late Bronze Age.

In the preliminary account of our findings, published in the Journal of Field Archaeology,1 we offered several initial observations on settlement patterns in the western Galilee during the MB period, including the following:

During the MB I period, the settlement landscape included mostly villages, some of them located in valleys close to the agricultural soil. Through most of this period, Acco seems to have been the only fortified town in the area.

During the MB I-II transition, the fortification of both Kabri and a few secondary sites is indicative of the swift urbanization and creation of a three-tiered settlement hierarchy: the center of the polity the secondary fortified centers and smaller unfortified hilltop settlements. The small, rural settlements of the MB I do not continue into MB II. The phenomenon is most striking in the area north of Nahal Khziv, with many abandoned sites in this area. The post-MB I settlement landscape in the territory of Kabri includes only hilltop sites, with a few newly founded sites.

During the MB II period, Kabri reaches its zenith. This can be seen in the last two phases of the MB II palace at the site, both of which date to this period, including the phase when the building was decorated with Aegean-style frescoes. Cypriot pottery continues to be imported at Kabri, as well as at most other sites in the vicinity, with the important exception of the highland sites for some reason. In fact, after the destruction of Tel Kabri at the end of the MB II period, trade with Cyprus still continued through many of the same ports and anchorages. The regional vacuum was filled in part by an increase in the political power of Acco but also by a continuation in the habitation of major hilltop sites.

Overall, our regional study suggested that the rise of the polity of Kabri was not a process of a gradual evolution but rather followed a rapid and truncated trajectory to a regional hegemony, which temporarily superseded and eclipsed the polity of Acco. It then fell quickly into oblivion at the very end of the Middle Bronze Age.

Overhead view of excavation areas at Tel Kabri


During our initial exploratory season at Tel Kabri in 2005, our excavations were limited in nature, primarily designed to test the results of the 2003 geophysical survey concerning the size of the palace. Three different areas were excavated in order to establish the extent of the palace and to determine a field strategy for the future. These included:

Area D West: the area of the possible throne room, close to the find spot of the frescoes and the supposed northern closing wall of the palace

Area D South: in the area of the presumed southern court of the palace

Area D North: outside the palace, according to Kempinski's reconstruction, now lying between the avocado trees.

In Area D West, the wall which was identified by the previous excavators as the northern external wall of the MB palace was actually found to be a Byzantine terrace, below which a four-meter-thick internal wall of the palace was found. It is obvious that the palace continues to the north and west in this area.

In Area D North, we found that the plaster floors of the palace continue farther to the east, lying below the avocado trees. This indicates that the MB II palace not only continues on in this direction as well, but that — just as the geophysical survey had suggested — it is considerably larger than originally estimated by the previous excavators. It covers at least 3000-4000 sq. m., rather than 2000 sq. m., and extends farther to the north, east, and west than previously thought. We also found in this area a possible libation or olive oil processing installation. We hope to uncover more details associated with this feature when we return to the area next season.

In Areas D North and D South, destruction deposits, including restorable local pottery, burnt organic material, and imported Cypriot pottery, were discovered. In D South, there is also some evidence for metalworking, including a fragment of a crucible, some slag, small pieces of bronze sheet, and a small gold lunette.

At work in area D south

During the fourth season, in 2008, limited excavations were conducted within the MB palace at Kabri, prior to beginning a full-scale campaign which is scheduled for this coming summer (see and which will continue through 2012.

The 2008 excavations were designed to generate a preliminary understanding of the history of the palace, from its initial foundation to its final destruction, which was successfully achieved. We also found approximately 45 more fragments of wall plaster, at least some of which appear to be painted, as well as additional evidence for red paint on one of the plaster floors in the palace.

MB Palace and Ceremonial Hall 611 at the end of the 2005 season

Our excavations were concentrated in D West, the area located at the eastern edge of the MB II palace, just to the northwest of the large Ceremonial Hall 611 exposed during Kempinski and Niemeier’s earlier excavations. In order to gain insights into the stratigraphical sequence of the palace, we opened up two principal excavation areas located to the east and northwest of Ceremonial Hall 611.

The western part included Room 740, the room directly to the north of 611, as well as its long and narrow Threshold 698, in whose entrance the fragments of miniature fresco were recovered by Kempinski and Niemeier in the early 1990s. In the area to the north of Room 740, immediately on the other side of a massive, four-meter-thick wall, we excavated a substantial mudbrick and plaster collapse belonging to the final destruction of the MB II palace.

Since this collapse appeared to be separated into two parts, upper and lower, by a line of plaster, it is possible that it belonged to both the second and first floors. Embedded within this collapse, we found at least 45 fragments of high-quality wall plaster, some of which appear to have been painted, as mentioned above.

One of the fragments also seems to have a string impression on its surface, consistent with Aegean fresco-painting techniques. Since this collapse clearly continues to the north and east, beyond the limits of the 2008 excavation area, we are optimistic that we shall recover more painted wall plaster fragments in the next season when we expand out into this area.

Directly below this level of collapse, we found a thick layer of occupational debris in the form of a massive quantity of flat-lying pottery sherds stacked one on top of another and forming a stratum approximately 30 cm. in depth. The pottery, which had apparently been crushed by the collapse, consisted mainly of storage jars datable to the MB II period. Within this pottery, several fragments of imported wares were found, including a neck fragment from a Cypriot White Painted jug or juglet and two possible Aegean imports. The analysis of this pottery will allow a more accurate dating for the final destruction of the palace.

However, our 2005 and 2008 excavations also suggested that the date for the Aegean-style paintings in the palace should be reconsidered. The fragments of wall fresco were found by Kempinski and Niemeier in and next to Threshold 698, located between Hall 611 and Room 740, where they had been reused as packing material. This fill was set in place after the ashlar blocks of the threshold orthostats in Hall 611 were removed.

Niemeier suggested that the fragments of the wall fresco were used to fill the gap caused by the removal of the orthostats from Hall 611 during a “squatter phase” dating to sometime after the abandonment of the palace. However, we believe that the deposition of the fresco fragments was not the work of looters but rather was conducted during a major renovation project within the lifetime of the palace.

We discovered that the walls of Room 740, perhaps to be identified as the throne room, were considerably thickened at some point in time, effectively halving the area of the room, and no doubt changing its use. This created an unusually deep threshold, which was not paved with ashlar orthostats, unlike elsewhere in the palace, but rather was deliberately filled with the fallen fresco fragments.

During the same time, as already noted by Kempinski and others, two new walls were constructed, cutting the large room to the NE of Hall 611 into two smaller rooms and thus also altering its use. The threshold between them was, similarly to 698, also not paved with orthostats. We believe that these drastic renovations to Rooms 740, 607, and 667 are linked to a change in the use of Hall 611.

We would therefore suggest that the renovations were also made to Hall 611 during this same period of construction, resulting in the removal of the orthostats, followed by the deposition and reuse of the fresco fragments as packing material underneath Threshold 698 and within a gap left by the removal of the orthostats from the interior wall of Hall 611.

During the 2008 season, in part to test our hypothesis, we sectioned the later threshold of Room 740, as well as its floor, exposing the floor from the period preceding the extensive renovation phase. Luckily, a large deposit of pottery was found in a pit dug into this floor and which was sealed by the latest floor, thus giving a date for the renovation activity.

Laura D'Alessandro, Head of the Conservation Lab at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, examining plaster floor in 2008

Redating the removal and the deposition of the Kabri frescoes results in a new, and earlier, relative chronology for the frescoes at Tel Kabri. Although much additional work is needed to pinpoint the absolute chronology of the Kabri frescoes, our suggested redating would make them considerably earlier than the Tel el-Dab'a Thutmoside frescoes and perhaps nearly contemporary with the Akrotiri frescoes on Santorini, which these at Kabri so closely resemble.

Turning now to the eastern part of D West, we initiated excavations in this area in 2008 in an effort to investigate the earlier phases of the palace. Here we descended underneath Room 703, dating to the latest phase of the palace, for the floor of this room had already been cut by Kempinski. We were able to successfully reconstruct the entire occupational history of the palace, which is as follows.

Prior to the construction of the palace, the area was very likely occupied by domestic structures, complete with intramural burials, datable to the middle part of the MB I period. Contacts with Cyprus were already taking place in this early phase, as indicated by sherds of Cypriot Red on Black pottery. These contacts with Cyprus then continued throughout the history of the palace.

The massive foundations of Wall 733 indicate that the earliest palace was of an astonishingly solid construction, reminiscent of the MB fortifications for the entire tel. The solid construction of this wall, using stones which were much larger than those used in the later phases of the palace, confirms Kempinski’s hypothesis that a large earlier structure lay below the MB II palace. However, rather than calling this earlier structure a “public building” or a “proto-palace” as Kempinski did, we would now suggest that it is in fact simply an earlier phase of the palace itself. The transition from MB I to MB II at Tel Kabri was not marked by the building of a palace, as Kempinski thought, but rather by modifications to a palace which already existed, having been built during MB I.

In fact, the palace seems to have existed for as many as 250 years and underwent a series of renovations during its lifetime, including modifications in internal plan, mending of floors, and changes in the functions of rooms. We can already write the history of individual rooms and can date the overall history of the palace from its inception in MB I to its destruction in MB II. However, a general internal phasing of the palace will have to wait until additional excavations have been conducted, further exposing the history of each specific room and area.

The zooarchaeological finds from this area were exceptionally rich and will enable us to detect differences in culinary practices between the pre-palatial structures and the various phases of the palace. A drain blocked during the early phase of the palace yielded a very well preserved assemblage of bones, which includes the bones of bovines, equids, sheep, and goats, as well as the pinchers of crabs. These may be remains of feasting connected with the latest use of the early palace phase.

Alex Cleveland displays his handiwork


In conclusion, the first four years of the Tel Kabri archaeological project have shown the considerable scientific potential of long-term exploration at the site. Already, the combination of the regional study and the excavation of the palace has resulted in a new view of the development of power in the area during the Middle Bronze Age.

Rather than a slow evolution, we see a swift transition from a non-urban settlement pattern to a well-formed polity, with a fortified urban center in its midst. The MB II palace of Kabri did not arise from a patrician house or from a “proto-palace,” but rather evolved from a previously existing and monumental MB I structure with formidable walls made of near-cyclopean masonry. This fine tuning of our understanding of the phases of the palace has also opened up new possibilities for the interpretation of the chronology of the Aegean-style paintings within the MB II palace.

Finally, the possible Aegean pottery sherds which we have discovered and which come from both the latest occupational deposits as well as earlier contexts at Tel Kabri may also suggest, if proven to actually originate in the Aegean, that the interactions between the Aegean area and the palatial elite of Tel Kabri lasted throughout the history of the palace and included not only the commissioning of Aegean-style art but also the importation of high-quality ceramics and possibly other objects as well.

Future Plans

We expect to learn more about the palace in particular and the site as a whole when we return for our next season of excavations this coming summer from June 21st to July 30th, 2009. We welcome inquiries from anyone interested in serving as a staff member or volunteer. Those interested should first consult our website (

1 A. Yasur-Landau, E.H. Cline, and G.A. Pierce, “Middle Bronze Age Settlement Patterns in the Western Galilee, Israel,” Journal of Field Archaeology 33/1 (2008) 59-83.

2 E.H. Cline and A. Yasur-Landau, “Poetry in Motion: Canaanite Rulership and Aegean Narrative at Kabri,” in EPOS: Reconsidering Greek Epic and Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology: 157-165, S.P. Morris and R. Laffineur, eds. Aegaeum 28. Liège: Université de Liège. 2007.

If our reconstruction is correct, the original painted floor and the wall fresco do not simply belong to the phase after the renovation of the palace, as Niemeier and Kempinski suggested, but date instead to a phase before the renovation. We tentatively suggest that the “use” period of the frescoes, i.e., the time when the frescoes were actually attached to the wall and served to decorate the interior of the palace, was during the pre-renovation phase of the palace, which is dated to the middle part of the MB II period. We believe that it was during the actual renovation that the wall fresco was torn down and reused as packing material under Threshold 698 and elsewhere.

We have already published some of the more noteworthy accomplishments in the EPOS conference volume which appeared in 2007,2 including further discussions of the data just presented.


It comes as Israel said the militants have fired more than 1,050 rockets since Monday, killing five civilians, including an Arab-Israeli girl in the city of Lod in the early hours of this morning.

Around 200 of the rockets fell short and landed inside Gaza, injuring many of their own, while the vast majority have been intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

In Tel Aviv a scene of carnage unfolded last night as a bus was engulfed by flames after being hit by a rocket. Further along the street, other vehicles were also on fire.

The flames from the bus leapt up into the air while explosions could be heard from the vehicle as black smoke billowed into the air.

Sirens blared from nearby cars rocked by the explosion and wreckage from nearby buildings was strewn across the ground.

Daniel Laufer, who posted the video on Twitter, said four people were injured in the blast, including a five-year-old.

The footage emerged amid the worst fighting between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 Gaza War, which left more than 2,000 people dead.

The flames from the bus leapt up into the air (right) while explosions could be heard from the vehicle as black smoke billowed into the air. Sirens blared from nearby cars rocked by the explosion and wreckage from nearby buildings was strewn across the ground (left)

More than a hundred Hamas rockets were launched at Tel Avi last night after a tower block in Gaza suspected of being a Hamas headquarters was destroyed by an Israeli air strike.

In a further video, a rocket can be heard soaring through the sky in Holon - and after a piercing second of silence, an explosion erupted at the end of the street and appears to hit a building.

Locals, who were stood outside a restaurant, panicked and ran away while one man looks aghast as he lifts his hands to his head in shock.

Fire can be seen lighting up the night sky as shocked bystanders begin running towards the fire while others begin screaming as they look towards the devastation.

In a further video, a rocket can be heard soaring through the sky in Holon - and after a piercing second of silence, an explosion erupted at the end of the street (left) and appears to hit a building. Fire can be seen lighting up the night sky as shocked bystanders begin running towards the fire (right) while others begin screaming as they look towards the devastation

In another video, an aftermath of a Hamas rocket fired into Holon can be seen with vehicles on fire as black smoke fills the air.

As the camera pans across the scene of devastation, the entire street appears to be filled with burning vehicles.

Fearful residents in Tel Aviv hid in their houses or under shelters last night as they were bombarded with scores of rockets fired by Hamas militants.

Video shows some people having to stand in on the staircase of their apartment building because they don't have a staircase.

Sirens can be heard as large bangs can be heard every few seconds, marking the moment a rocket is shot down by the Iron Dome defence system.

Rockets were first fired on Monday as Hamas carried out a threat to strike Israel unless it withdrew security forces from the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after days of clashes with Palestinian protesters there.

Since then, Hamas says it has fired more than 1,000 rockets at Israel with the bombardment continuing today - while Israel has carried out dozens of missile strikes of its own.

At least 48 Palestinians, including 14 children and three women, have died in the strikes so far, according to the Health Ministry, with hundreds more wounded.

Six Israelis, including three women and a child, have been killed by rocket fire with dozens more hurt.

Also overnight, rioting broke out inside Israel itself as Israeli Arabs particularly in the city of Lod.

Heavy clashes broke out between police and Arabs following the funeral of an Arab man who was killed the previous night, the suspect a Jewish gunman.

Israeli media reported that the crowd fought with police, and set a synagogue and some 30 vehicles on fire.

Israeli men carry Torah scrolls from a synagogue in the city of Lod which was torched last night amid rioting. Netanyahu personally visited the central city in the early hours of Wednesday to declare a state of emergency

Then, in the early hours of Wednesday, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in Lod killing an Israeli Arab man and his daughter - identified locally as 16-year-old Nadin Awad.

Her cousin, Ahmad Ismail, told public broadcaster Kan that he was near Nadin when she was killed alongside her father Khalil Awad, 52.

'I was at home, we heard the noise of the rocket. It happened so quickly. Even if we had wanted to run somewhere, we don't have a safe room,' Ismail told Kan.

As a result of the fighting, two men were seen clearing Torah scrolls from the torched synagogue on Wednesday through the blackened and debris-strewn yard.

In further video footage from Wednesday, rockets launched from Gaza by Hamas can be seen flying over the southern town of Ashkelon.

Black smoke billows after a series of Israeli airstrikes targeted Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip early on Wednesday. According to military experts, the plumes of smoke seen rising suggest the Israelis are deploying bunker buster bombs, targeting underground infrastructure

Israeli artillery fires shells at the Gaza border on Wednesday after the defence chief vowed to bring 'total, long-term quiet' to the Gaza Strip

A fire rages at an oil refinery in the southern town of Ashkelon which has been heavily targeted by hundreds of Hamas rockets fired since Monday

In retaliation for the hundreds of of missiles fired at its cities, Israel launched massive bombardments.

Hamas confirmed that several of its top commanders were killed in air strikes on the Gaza Strop today.

Israel has vowed to bring 'total, long-term quiet' to the region despite growing international alarm at the numbers of civilian casualties being sustained in its barrages on densely populated areas.

Hamas said the commander of its Gaza City Brigade, Bassem Issa, was among those 'martyred' in the strikes.

Hamas militants and their allies have fired more than 1,000 missiles at Israel, though many have been shot down by the Iron Dome defence system, while others have landed inside Gaza. The Israeli towns of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Yehud have been struck, as well as the most populous city, Tel Aviv. In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force has targeted suspected Hamas strongholds in Gaza City as well as the southern settlements Rafah and Khan Yunis

Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, named another three slain Hamas officers: Jamaa Tahla, responsible for the improved accuracy of the group's rockets Jamal Zabeda, chief of 'special projects' in the munitions department and Hazzem Hatib, head engineer in the munitions wing.

'The army will continue to attack to bring a total, long-term quiet. Only when we reach that goal will we be able to speak about a truce,' Defence Minister Benny Gantz said today from the southern town of Ashkelon where two Israeli women were killed by Hamas rockets on Tuesday.

The United Nations has warned the two sides they risk a 'full-scale war' if there is not an urgent ceasefire.

'Stop the fire immediately. We're escalating towards a full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation,' Tor Wennesland UN Special Envoy to the Middle East tweeted.

Just after daybreak, the Israeli Air Force unleashed dozens of strikes within the course of a few minutes with what appeared to be bunker buster bombs targeting underground Hamas infrastructure.

Haifa U: Flourishing Canaanite Palatial Site Suddenly Abandoned 3,700 Years Ago – Now We Know Why

A team of Israeli and American researchers funded by the National Geographic Society and the Israel Science Foundation have uncovered new evidence that an earthquake may have caused the destruction and abandonment of a flourishing Canaanite palatial site about 3,700 years ago.

The group made the discovery at the 75-acre site of Tel Kabri in Israel, which contains the ruins of a Canaanite palace and city that dates back to approximately 1900-1700 B.C. The excavations, located on land belonging to Kibbutz Kabri in the western Galilee, are co-directed by Dr. Assaf Yasur-Landau, a professor of Mediterranean archaeology at the University of Haifa, and Dr. Eric H. Cline, a professor of classics and anthropology at the George Washington University.

Overhead of Orthostat Bldg with trench through it at right. / Haifa University Spokesperson’s Office

“We wondered for several years what had caused the sudden destruction and abandonment of the palace and the site, after centuries of flourishing occupation,” Yasur-Landau said. “A few seasons ago, we began to uncover a trench which runs through part of the palace, but initial indications suggested that it was modern, perhaps dug within the past few decades or a century or two at most. But then, in 2019, we opened up a new area and found that the trench continued for at least thirty meters, with an entire section of a wall that had fallen into it in antiquity, and with other walls and floors tipping into it on either side.”

According to Dr. Michael Lazar, lead author on the study, recognizing past earthquakes can be extremely challenging in the archaeological record, especially at sites where there isn’t much stone masonry and degradable construction materials like sun-dried mudbricks and wattle-and-daub were used instead. At Kabri, however, the team found both stone foundations for the bottom part of the walls and mudbrick superstructures above.

“Our studies show the importance of combining macro- and micro-archaeological methods for the identification of ancient earthquakes,” he said. “We also needed to evaluate alternative scenarios, including climatic, environmental, and economic collapse, as well as warfare, before we were confident in proposing a seismic event scenario.”

The researchers could see areas where the plaster floors appeared warped, walls had tilted or been displaced, and mudbricks from the walls and ceilings had collapsed into the rooms, in some cases rapidly burying dozens of large jars.

“It really looks like the earth simply opened up and everything on either side of it fell in,” Cline said. “It’s unlikely that the destruction was caused by violent human activity because there are no visible signs of fire, no weapons such as arrows that would indicate a battle, nor any unburied bodies related to combat. We could also see some unexpected things in other rooms of the palace, including in and around the wine cellar that we excavated a few years ago.”

Wine cellar room emptied with wave visible in far wall. / Haifa University Spokesperson’s Office

In 2013, the team discovered forty jars within a single storage room of the palace during an expedition also sponsored by the National Geographic Society. An organic residue analysis conducted on the jars indicated that they had held wine it was described at the time as the oldest and largest wine cellar yet discovered in the Near East. Since then, the team has found four more such storage rooms and at least seventy more jars, all buried in the collapse of the building.

“The floor deposits imply a rapid collapse rather than a slow accumulation of degraded mudbricks from standing walls or ceilings of an abandoned structure,” Ruth Shahack-Gross,a professor of geoarchaeology at the University of Haifa and a co-author on the paper said. “The rapid collapse, and the quick burial, combined with the geological setting of Tel Kabri, raises the possibility that one or more earthquakes could have destroyed the walls and the roof of the palace without setting it on fire.”

Wall fallen into trench at the palace’s site. / Haifa University Spokesperson’s Office

The investigators are hopeful that their methodological approach can be applied at other archaeological sites, where it can serve to test and/or strengthen cases of possible earthquake damage and destruction.

Roey Nickelsberg, a graduate student at the University of Haifa, was also a member of the research team.

The National Geographic Society, the Israel Science Foundation, GWU, the University of Haifa, and private donations provided funding for the research.


Egyptian rule Edit

The Egyptian troops of Ibrahim Pasha captured the city of Jaffa and its environs following a battle with the forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1832. Though Egyptian rule over this area continued only until 1840, Egyptian Muslims settled in and around Jaffa, founding the village of Sakhanat Abu Kabir, along with Sakhanat al-Muzariyya, among others. [1] [2] An eastern suburb of Jaffa, many of the Egyptians who populated it came from the village of Tall al Kabir (or Tel Abu Kabir), and named it for their hometown. [1] [3]

Ottoman period Edit

An Ottoman village list of about 1870 described Saknet Abu Kebir as a "Beduin camp", with 136 houses and a population of 440, though the population count included men only. [4] [5]

In The Survey of Western Palestine (1881), its name is recorded as Sâknet Abu Kebîr and it is translated as, "The settlement of Abu Kebir p.n. (great father)." [6] Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, the French archaeologist, visited in 1873-1874, searching for the site of the ancient Jewish cemetery of Joppa (Jaffa). He describes "Saknet Abu K'bir" as a hamlet, and relates walking through the "extensive gardens that close in Jaffa on every side" to reach it. [7] He notes that during the heavy winter rains, the gardens between Jaffa and Saknet Abu Kabir became a small marshy lake that was known as al-Bassa by the locals. Noting that this name is commonly used throughout Syria for seasonal ponds of this nature and recalling that the bissah of the Hebrew Bible also means pond, he suggests that the similarity in the Arabic and Hebrew indicates a borrowing from even earlier linguistic traditions. [8]

Under an entry entitled The Jewish necropolis of Joppa, Clermont-Ganneau relates that after inquiring with the local fellahin (peasants) in Abu Kabir, he was led "a few yards further on" from the hamlet, "in the middle of some poorly tilled gardens," where building stone was quarried by the villagers. Laid bare by their activities were, "sepulchral chambers hollowed out in the calcareous tufa." He notes that similar graves were said to found in the lands between Abu Kabir to as far as Mikveh Israel and the Catholic cemetery. Other fellahin told him of finds between Saknet Abu Kabir and Saknet al-'Abid, and still others told of artifacts that they had retrieved from them. One artifact was brought to him which he purchased: a small marble titulus with a four-line Greek inscription and a seven-branched candlestick (or menorah). Clermont-Ganneau identified this as Helleno-Jewish funeral epigraphy, ascribing it to Hezekiah, and writes that it, "settled once and for all the nature of the burial ground I had just discovered." [7] In a letter published by the Palestine Exploration Fund, he expressed his hope to return noting, "We must at least find two or three more inscriptions of the same kind coming from the same neighbourhood." [9] Locating the tombs within a circle called, "Ardh (or Jebel) Dhabitha," he notes the area extends over, "the great gardens outside Jaffa, bounded by a little hamlet called Abou K'bir* (Abu Kebir), and by the well of Aboa Nabbout (Abu Nabbut)." [9]

The Jewish necropolis was looted mainly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dating the site is a challenge due to the lack of objects found in situ, but estimates are that the tombs were used between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD. Most of the necropolis is now in the area of the Russian Orthodox Saint Peter's Church compound. [10]

According to Mark LeVine, the Biluim pioneers set up a commune among the orange and lemon groves of the Abu Kabir neighborhood between 1882 and 1884. [11] The house used by the commune members is now located in the Neve Ofer neighborhood of Tel Aviv.

British Mandate period Edit

During the 1921 Jaffa Riots, the violence reached Abu Kabir. The Jewish Yitzker family owned a dairy farm on the outskirts of the neighborhood, in which they rented out rooms. At the time of the riots, Yosef Haim Brenner, one of the pioneers of modern Hebrew literature was living at the site. On May 2, 1921, despite warnings Yitzker and Brenner refused to leave the farm and were murdered, along with Yitzker's teenaged son, his son-in-law and two other renters. [12]

As Jaffa expanded during the 1920s and 1930s, Abu Kabir was incorporated within the municipal boundaries of Jaffa but retained much of its agricultural character. [13] It consisted of a main built-up part bordering the Jewish sector of Jaffa from the south, and several small concentrations of houses within the surrounding citrus groves. [13]

In the wake of violence on the border between Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv's leaders suggested annexing the Jewish neighborhoods of Jaffa to Tel Aviv. They proposed that the whole of Manshiyya, including Hassan Bey Mosque, as well as large parts of the Abu Kabir neighborhood, be transferred to the borders of the new Jewish city and state." [14]

On August 23, 1944, the British Criminal Investigation Department (CID) barracks at Jaffa, and police stations at Abu Kabir and Neve Shaanan were raided for arms by the Irgun. [15]

1947–1948 war Edit

In 1947, Abu Kabir was situated at the entrance to Tel Aviv on the main road to Jerusalem. [16] [17] On 30 November 1947, the day after the UN voted on the Partition Plan, an Arab mob in Abu Kabir attacked a car with Jewish passengers, killing all three. Jewish retaliatory strikes followed. On 2 December the Haganah's Kiryati Brigade blew up an Arab house in Abu Kabir, and the IZL torched several buildings four days later, killing at least two persons. [18]

During Operation Lamed Hey (Hebrew for "35"), named for the 35 casualties of an attack on the Convoy of 35, Abu Kabir was raided to "cleanse it of the forces acting there." [19] On the night of 12–13 February 1948, the Haganah struck simultaneously at Abu Kabir, Jibalia, Tel a-Rish and the village of Yazur. At Abu Kabir, 13 Arabs were killed, including the Mukhtar, and 22 injured.

According to the Palestine Post, on 16 February 1948 the Haganah repulsed an Arab attack on Tel Aviv from Abu Kabir. [20]

A second major attack on Abu Kabir was launched on 13 March, the objective of which was, "the destruction of the Abu Kabir neighborhood". By this time the neighborhood was mostly abandoned by its inhabitants and was guarded by a few dozen militiamen. Sappers blew up a number of houses and this was the first attack in which Yishuv-produced Davidka mortars were used to shell the neighborhood. Inaccurate and very loud, the mortars had a demoralizing effect claimed to have reached "as far as Gaza". [18]

A month after Abu Kabir was conquered, David Ben-Gurion told the Israeli Provisional Government that Jaffa's Arab population should not be allowed to return: "If there will be [an] Abu Kebir again - this would be impossible. The world needs to understand we are 700,000 against 27 million, one against forty . It won't be acceptable to us for Abu Kebir to be Arab again." [17]

Walid Khalidi writes that the Haganah completed the demolition of Abu Kabir by March 31. [21] On April 19, 1948, The Palestine Post reported that "In the Abu Kebir area, the Haganah dispersed Arabs who tried to erect an emplacement facing the Aka factory in Givat Herzl. Two Arabs were shot as they approached the Maccabi Quarter." [22]

State of Israel Edit

After 1948, Abu Kabir was renamed Giv'at Herzl, [1] although the Arabic name, Abu Kabir, is still used by the now largely Hebrew-speaking population. [23] [24] The Tel Aviv Municipality offered Prof. Heinrich Mendelssohn, Director of the Biological-Pedagogical Institute, the option of moving the Institute to Abu Kabir, and it was moved into a structure originally planned as a hospital. [25] Haim Levanon, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv in the early 1950s and mayor from 1953–59 energetically campaigned for the founding of a university in Tel Aviv. The idea was realized on August 16, 1953, when the Municipal Council of Tel Aviv-Yafo decided to transform the Biological-Pedagogical Institute into the Academic Institute of Natural Sciences, under the leadership of Prof. Mendelssohn, which would "form the core of a future university." The Abu Kabir campus in southern Tel Aviv had 24 students in its first year.

In 1954, the Academic Institute of Jewish Studies was established in Abu Kabir. A university library was also founded, new study tracks were opened, a teaching staff was formed, laboratories and classrooms were built, and an administration established for the campus. [26] [27] The L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine, locally known as the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, was established that year.

In 1956, the Academic Institutes were officially upgraded into the new "University of Tel Aviv". The Zoological Gardens became part of the University. The Zoological and Botanical Gardens were moved to the Ramat Aviv campus in 1981. The Nature Gardens still host the original facilities. The gardens at Abu Kabir are recommended in an Israeli guide to Tel Aviv as a destination for nature lovers. [28] In the tour book Israel and the Palestinian territories (1998), "the former village of Abu Kabir" is described as being located in a green space to the east of Jaffa. [29]

Salvage excavations were undertaken by Israeli archaeologists in the burial complex at "Saknat Abu Kabir" in 1991. [30]

The Tel Aviv Detention Center, known as the Abu Kabir Prison is also in the area. [31] [32]

Israeli media reported in January 2011 that the part or all of the area in south Tel Aviv known as Abu Kabir, the hill or neighborhood, was given a new name, Tabitha, by the Tel Aviv municipality's naming committee. [33] [34]

In Ephraim Kishon's satirical short story, "The Economics of Babysitting" (1989), the main character, a male babysitter, speaks of the beauty of strolling through Tel Aviv at night, and one of the places he mentions as being especially beautiful, is the "Abu Kabir Plain." [35]


According to local legend, the village was named for a local religious figure, al-Shaykh Muwannis, whose maqam was in the village. [7]

Ottoman era Edit

During the Ottoman era, Pierre Jacotin named the village Dahr on his map from 1799. [8]

Al-Shaykh Muwannis was noted in December 1821, as being "located on a hill surrounded by muddy land that was flooded with water despite the moderate winter". [9] In 1856 the village was named Sheikh Muennis on the map of Southern Palestine that Heinrich Kiepert published that year. [10]

In 1870, Victor Guérin noted about al-Shaykh Muwannis: "It contains four hundred inhabitants and is divided into several quarters, each under the jurisdiction of a particular sheikh. On the outskirts one can note some gardens where succulent watermelons grow, with hardly any horticultural care." [11] In 1882, the PEF's Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) noted "ruins of a house near the kubbeh", [12] while Al-Shaykh Muwannis was described as an ordinary adobe village. [13] Most of the villagers were members of the Abu Kishk tribe. [14]

The village population was 315 in 1879. [15]

British Mandate era Edit

In the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Shaik Muannes had a population of 664 residents, all Muslims. [16] This had increased in the 1931 census when Esh Sheikh Muwannis had 1154 inhabitants, still all Muslims, in 273 houses. [17]

In the 1920s, the government of the British mandate attempted to gain title to lands lying to the west of Al-Shaykh Muwannis and extending to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea on the grounds that it was "waste and uncultivated." [18] According to the authors of a book on the Israeli-Arab conflict, the Arabs of the Jaffa-Tel Aviv region "understood the implications of the Zionist-cum-British discourses of development generally and their implementation through town planning schemes." [19] In 1937, the Arabic daily al Ja'miah al-Islamiyya commented on British plans to build a bypass road for Tel Aviv residents on what they claimed were village lands: [20] "[I]n reality the plan in the Town Planning Commission now including Sheikh Muwannis is not really a 'plan', but rather a plan to take the land out of the hands of its owners." [19]

There were two schools in the village, a boys' school built in 1932 and a girls' school built in 1943. 266 students were registered in these schools in 1945. [7] The villagers worked in agriculture, particularly citrus cultivation. In the 1945 statistics, 3,749 dunums were used for growing citrus and bananas, and 7,165 dunums of village land was used for cereals. 66 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards, irrigation water was drawn from al-Awja river and a large number of artesian wells. [7] [21] 41 dunams of village lands were classified as built-up areas. [22]

In 1946, three Arab villagers raped a Jewish girl. In the midst of the court proceedings, members of the Haganah shot and wounded one of the attackers, and kidnapped and castrated another. [14] In 1947, in the wake of growing hostility in the days leading up to the war, some of the villagers began to leave. Most stayed, as village notables had secured Haganah protection in exchange for keeping the peace and preventing Arab Liberation Army (ALA) irregulars from the using the village to attack Yishuv forces. [14]

Before the 1948 war, the population of al-Shaykh Muwannis was 2,000. [7]

In 1948, the population was largely made up of fellaheen who enjoyed friendly relations with Jews, despite occasional tension. [14] While occasional shots were fired from the village toward Jewish residential areas in January and February 1948, there were no casualties, and the Abu Kishk abided by their promise to keep out ALA irregulars. The emissary of the ALA was informed by the Abu Kishk that "the Arabs of the area will cooperate with the Jews against any outside force that tries to enter." [14]

Some intelligence reports, which were never corroborated, suggested that in early 1948 the village, which overlooked both the Sde Dov Airport and the Reading Power Station, was being infiltrated by heavily-armed Arab irregulars. [23] On 7 March, the Haganah's Alexandroni Brigade imposed a 'quarantine' on the village by closing off all access roads to it and two smaller satellite villages of Jalil al Shamaliyya and Jalil al Qibliya and may even have occupied houses on the edge of village. [14] The underground Stern Gang (LHI) maintained one of its encampments in the village, [24] and, five days later, on 12 March, militants from either the Irgun or Lehi groups kidnapped five village notables. [23] [25] The Jewish Intelligence Services noted that

"many of the villagers . began fleeing following the abduction of the notables of Sheikh Muwannis. The Arab learned that it was not enough to reach an agreement with the Haganah and that there were 'other Jews' of whom to beware, and possibly to be aware of more than the Haganah, which had not control over them." [25]

The villagers then protested that Jewish forces in the area were subjecting them to intimidation, looting and shooting at them randomly. [23] Though the notables were turned over to the Haganah on the 23 March and returned to Shaykh Muwannis, most of the villagers there and in other villages north of the Yarkon River continued to leave, as their confidence had been "mortally undermined". [14] Tawfiq Abu Kishk threw a large parting 'banquet' for the remaining villagers and their Jewish friends on the 28 March 1948. [14] After their departure, the village lands were promptly allocated for Jewish use by the Yishuv leaders, [14] and were ultimately incorporated into the municipality of Tel Aviv. [18]

In the days following, the Abu Kishk leaders attributed their abandonment of the village to: "a) the [Haganah] roadblocks . b) the [Haganah] limitations on movement by foot, c) the theft [by Jews?] of vehicles, and d) the last kidnapping of Sheikh Muwannis men by the LHI." The villagers of Shaykh Muwannis became refugees, with the majority taking up residence in Qalqilya and Tulkarem. [14]

According to the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, the village's remaining structures in 1992 consisted of several houses occupied by Jewish families and the wall of a house. [7] Soon after the war, it was used to accommodate members of the new Israeli Air Force and men from Mahal units. It was initially repopulated, from 1949 onwards, by Jews from North Africa, called "Moroccans" by other Jews in the area, and much of its land, as the North African Jews were relocated, was taken over for the development of Tel Aviv University, [26] and the former home of the village sheikh, known as the 'Green House', serves as the University's faculty club. [5] [27]

In a right of return march organized by the Israeli group Zochrot on Nakba Day in 2004, participants called upon the Tel Aviv municipality to name six streets in the city after Palestinian villages that had existed there until 1948, among them, Al-Shaykh Muwannis. [28]


“When Gregor van der Berg and his team tapped into a natural gas reserve on Mars in 2057, the world collectively scrambled to find the source of this unexpected find. Over the next two decades, the International Martian Research Station was established and manned in the Hypanis Vallis region. It wasn’t long before IMRS unearthed fossilized microbial life. The discovery of extinct extraterrestrials precipitated a renewed interest in the search for life outside the Solar System.

“Six space agencies and two private companies cooperated to send out high-velocity interstellar probes to twelve nearby terrestrial planets, each one a promising candidate for life. Three of the Beagle probes, as they were called, went silent before reaching their destinations. Each of the remaining nine zoomed past their assigned planets, furiously gathering data all the while. As the 21 st century came to a close, the first messages from the Barnard system reached Earth.

“The discoveries were astounding! The first satellite images from Barnard’s fourth planet revealed oceans and continents, dusted red-violet with flourishing plant life. The atmosphere was toxic to humans but rich in gasses common to Earth. The planet’s natural features, along with its tidally locked state, engendered an array of familiar biomes: tundra, rainforest, desert, and prairie among them, along with a few that didn’t fit the profile of any know biomes. Strong currents in the air and the seas moderated the climate and, most importantly, prevented the atmosphere from freezing on the dark side. The planet was given the proper name Ilion after the ancient city of Troy. In keeping with the ancient civilization theme, the other planets became Avaris, Tel Kabri, Ur, Vaishali, Heracleion Yingchang, Pompeii, and Cahokia.”

– Excerpt from The Other Red Planet: A history of the Odyssey program by Raya Andiyar-Mistry, Sergei Dotsenko,, and Johan R. Boscaro

Size (Earth radii)
Mass (Earth masses)
Surface gravity (g)

Tel Kabri
Beagle 1
0.5 r(E)
0.2 m(E)
0.8 g
Beagle 1 vanished shortly before the flyby but managed to capture several blurry photos of Tel Kabri and collect some preliminary data. Tel Kabri is tantalizingly Earthlike though much smaller, and many theorize that the probe was shot down.

Beagle 8
0.6 r(E)
0.3 m(E)
1.6 g
Little was known about Ur at the time the probes were disseminated. As exoplanet detection technologies improved, it became clear that Ur had experienced a runaway greenhouse effect and was uninhabitable. Oblivious, Beagle 8 soldiered on.

Beagle 3
0.8 r(E)
0.9 m(E)
1.4 g
Beagle 3 reached its target only to find that Cahokia was little more than a rock. The team’s astrobiologists were disappointed. The astrogeologists were not. The probes were programmed to position themselves between the planet and its star, but Beagle 3 suffered an anomaly that forced it to veer off course.

Beagle 11
1.0 r(E)
0.9 m(E)
0.9 g
Probes 11 and 12 journeyed together to Barnard’s Star, where two promising planets had been detected. Beagle 11 split off from its sister and changed course to fly past Avaris, which turned out to be a dud.

Beagle 6
1.0 r(E)
1.1 m(E)
1.1 g
Avaris was not the only Earth-sized planet to fail to pan out. Vaishali, like Ilion, is tidally locked and rimmed with ice. The ice, however, is not made of water but frozen gasses, and the planet is much too cold to support life.

For comparison

Beagle 12
1.3 r(E)
2.0 m(E)
1.2 g
As one of the last to reach its destination, Beagle 12 was under a good deal of pressure to find life. And find life, it did. The probes were outfitted with instruments sensitive to biosignatures, but Beagle 12 didn’t need these. Ilion’s biosphere was out in the open, visible to the naked eye from Beagle 12’s (very short-lived) vantage point.

Beagle 4
1.4 r(E)
2.7 m(E)
1.4 g
Beagle 4 was the only probe to successfully sample its planet’s atmosphere. Pompeii’s air is thick with volcanic gasses and the world was deemed habitable to extremophilic life, though no biological activity was confirmed.

Beagle 10
1.6 r(E)
4.0 m(E)
1.6 g
The super-Earth Yingchang was a long shot, but since so little was known about it, it was voted to be included in the program. Yingchang turned out to be a rocky planet with a tenuous atmosphere, not the water world many expected.

Beagle 5
2.2 r(E)
8.9 m(E)
1.8 g
Heracleion was the water world everyone expected. Its mass and radius were measured from Earth, and from that information planetary scientists deduced that it must have an ocean – and a deep one at that. Beagle 5 gathered copious amounts of data but found no biosignatures.

The planets I made in Photoshop using various techniques, mostly spherizing textures and playing around with layer styles and gradients. The textures are sourced from NASA and my own photos of physical objects, including some of my dioramas. Some elements are hand painted, including, I believe, the entirety of Yingchang. I made that one a long time ago so I'm not a hundred percent sure.


Archaeologists have unearthed in northern Israel what might be the world's oldest -- and largest -- wine cellar.

Researchers estimate the cellar is more than 3,000 years old, dating back to about 1,700 B.C. It was found inside an ancient ruined palace in the western Galilee region of Israel, in an area now used for growing banana and avocado trees.

Inside the ancient cellar, archaeologists found 40 large jars, each of which would have held 50 litres of strong, sweet wine. The 40 jars would have had a capacity of roughly 2,000 litres, meaning the cellar could have held the equivalent of nearly 3,000 bottles of wine.

Sadly, all the wine was long since gone, but many of the jars were almost perfectly intact.

"This is a hugely significant discovery -- it's a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size," says Eric Cline, the chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at George Washington University.

Researchers working on the site in the ancient city of Tel Kabri say the palace was used for an extended time during the Middle Bronze Age and then abandoned for reasons that are still unknown and never re-occupied.

The team used carbon dating to determine the age of the jars that were found, a technique that finds the approximate age of artifacts by measuring the amount of carbon that has decayed.

Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, analyzed the jar fragments using organic residue analysis and found traces of tartaric and syringic acid, both key components in wine. He also found compounds suggesting other ingredients that were popular in ancient wine-making were used, including honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins.

The recipe is similar to medicinal wines used in ancient Egypt for 2,000 years.

Koh also analyzed the proportions of each diagnostic compound and discovered remarkable consistency between jars. He says that suggests that the winemakers followed a precise recipe and followed it to the letter.

"This wasn't moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements," Koh notes. "This wine's recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar."

The team's findings were presented Friday in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, says it's likely that important guests drank the wine.

"The wine cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine," he says.

The Tel Kabri site was first excavated in 1986, when archeologists discovered a building with a floor and wall frescoes painted in an Aegean manner.Excavation work has been ongoing at the site ever since.

As researchers excavated at the site this past summer, they uncovered a metre-long jar, later christened “Bessie.”

“We dug and dug, and all of a sudden, Bessie’s friends started appearing -- five, 10, 15, ultimately 40 jars packed in a 15-by-25-foot storage room,” Cline said in a statement.

In 2015, the dig team hopes to continue their dig work by following two doors leading out of the wine cellar, which they are likely to lead to additional storage rooms.

The excavation work is being funded by grants from National Geographic, the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the Institute for Aegean Prehistory and several private donors.

Canaanite wine stash found in Galilee unearths ancient flavors

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

The Canaanite kings of Tel Kabri drank plenty of wine, and for the first time archaeologists have hard evidence for it after unearthing a Bronze Age royal wine cellar at the northern Galilee site.

Kabri, a Middle Bronze Age city located a few miles east of the modern town of Nahariya, was excavated last year by a team headed by Dr. Assaf Yasur-Landau of University of Haifa, Dr. Eric H. Cline of George Washington University, and Dr. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University. During the dig, they found 40 narrow-necked, meter-tall, handleless jugs which date back over 3,600 years.

After conducting a residue analysis of the ceramics found last summer, they said in an article published Wednesday in PLOS ONE that the vessels contained wine.

“The presence of both tartaric and syringic acids in relative abundance as biomarkers indicates that all of these vessels originally held wine and that we may be confident in identifying this space as a wine storage room – that is to say, a wine cellar,” they wrote. A lack of syringic acid, a compound prevalent in red wine, in three of the jars may indicate the lords of the palace also held a stock of white, they postulate, “but it is difficult to say with certainty without further evidence.”

But the wine wasn’t a straight grape-to-barrel concoction. The analysis found that the ancients enhanced their vino with herbs and resins to help flavor and preserve it. Chemical traces suggest that the jar’s contents had herbal additives including “honey, storax resin, terebinth resin, cyperus, cedar oil, juniper, and perhaps even mint, myrtle, or cinnamon.”

At roughly 2,000 liters of wine, the researchers noted, the quantity found in the cellar suggests the stash was “directly related to consumption within the palace,” rather than for mass distribution.

“We may have here the private reserve of the ruler and his household. ”

Discovering an ancient palace’s storeroom filled with ancient wine jars was a “most unusual find,” Yasur-Landau told The Times of Israel.

“You do not usually find palaces, not to mention palaces that are as early as that, [with] rooms that are filled with very, very large ceramic storage jars,” Yasur-Landau, chair of the department of maritime civilization at the University of Haifa, said.

He said that there are at least two more storerooms adjoined to the one already excavated that remain to be unearthed in the 2015 season. They, too, might contain vessels for wine, or perhaps other commodities such as olive oil or wheat.

“On the other edge of the room there’s a massive entrance with double-doorways, which is likely leading to something important,” he said. Adjacent to the storeroom the excavators also found the remains of an elegantly decorated “banquet hall” with bright white plaster on the floor in which large quantities of meat — sheep and goats, and wild cattle (aurochs) — was consumed and other wine jars were found.

“It is very likely that in every celebration… wine was consumed and wine was also offered to the gods,” not dissimilar to ancient and modern Jewish ritual, he said.

The region of the western Galilee where Tel Kabri is situated was noted in antiquity for its wine production, as it remains today. Kibbutz Gesher Ziv, just west of the site, and Abirim, to its east, both possess vineyards and boutique wineries. Cultivars of the ancient grapes used to produce the Canaanite wine may still exist in the wild in northern Israel, meaning the ancient concoction could be recreated.

Professor Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania has teamed up with Dogfish Head Brewery to recreate ancient beers and ales. Yasur-Landau said he seeks to accomplish a similar undertaking and resurrect the Canaanite wine with appropriate scientific diligence.

“We are looking for the right winery to do it, but this will have to be a very serious archaeological experiment,” he said. “The aim is actually double, to re-enjoy the taste of the old wine, but second is to make an accurate reconstruction of the ancient taste.”

For wine aficionados hoping to try the blend should it be recreated, be warned: “The Canaanites were drinking wines that were very different from our wines,” he said. They would deteriorate with age, so they added flavors and natural preservatives to enhance them, lending them tastes unfamiliar to those with modern palates.

Nonetheless, when Canaanite lords threw a banquet in their palace and slaughtered a large animal in celebration, “I have no doubt that the people… were consuming very, very good wine.”

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