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Photos: Biblical-Era Fortress Discovered in Israel

Slaves' Hill

gatehouse discovery tinna valley

(Image credit: Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University)

A gatehouse has been uncovered during recent excavations at an ancient mining camp in southern Israel. The building dates back to the 10th century B.C. and includes donkey stables. [Read the full story here]

The gatehouse was unearthed at a hilltop archaeological site in the Timna Valley known as Slaves' Hill.

Copper workers

gatehouse discovery tinna valley

(Image credit: Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University)

First identified in the 1930s, the walled site was initially thought to be a camp for slave laborers, but it has since been reinterpreted as a copper smelting camp.

Guarded resource

gatehouse discovery tinna valley

(Image credit: Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University)

Copper was a valuable resource in the 10th century B.C., so it makes sense that this camp would have had a gatehouse at its only entrance to track the flow of goods and people.

Landmark in the desert

gatehouse discovery tinna valley

(Image credit: Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University)

The gatehouse, which had a room on either side of the passageway, would have been a prominent feature in the ancient landscape.

Animal pens

gatehouse discovery tinna valley

(Image credit: Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University)

Outside of the rooms, archaeologists found piles of dung and interpreted these areas as donkey stables.

Donkey feed

gatehouse discovery tinna valley

(Image credit: Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University)

By looking at the contents of the donkey dung (shown in B here) the researchers were able to tell that the animals were well fed with sustenance from as far away as the Mediterranean.

Megan Gannon
Megan has been writing for Live Science and Space.com since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.