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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.