A team of archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has uncovered the remnants of an ancient fortified complex believed to have been founded by the Geshurites, the ally of King David, in the 11th or 10th century BCE.
The 3,000-year-old Geshurite fort was unearthed near Hispin, a religious Israeli settlement and a moshav located in the southern Golan Heights.
“The complex we exposed was built at a strategic location on the small hilltop, above the El-Al Canyon, overlooking the region, at a spot where it was possible to cross the river,” said IAA excavation directors Dr. Barak Tzin and Dr. Enno Bron.
“The 1.5-m-wide fort walls, built of large basalt boulders, encompassed the hill.”
During the excavations, the archaeologists also uncovered a large basalt stone with a schematic engraving of two horned figures with outspread arms.
“There may also be another object next to them,” they said.
“It is noteworthy that in 2019, a figure carved on a cultic stone stele was found Nebraska University’s Dr. Rami Arav and colleagues at Bethsaida just north of the Sea of Galilee.”
“The stele, depicting a horned figure with outspread arms, was erected next to a raised platform (bama) adjacent to the city gate.”
“This scene was identified as an object representing the Moon-God Cult.”
“The Hispin stone was located on a shelf next to the entrance, and not one, but two figures were depicted on it.”
“It is possible that a person who saw the impressive Bethsaida stele, decided to create a local copy of the royal stele,” they said.
The fortified city of Bethsaida is believed to be the capital of the Aramean Kingdom of Geshur that ruled the central and southern Golan 3,000 years ago.
“According to the Bible, the kingdom upheld diplomatic and family relations with the House of David,” the researchers said.
“One of David’s wives was Maacah, the daughter of Talmi, King of Geshur.”
“Cities of the Kingdom of Geshur are known along the Sea of Galilee shore, including Tel En Gev, Tel Hadar and Tel Sorag, but sites are hardly known in the Golan,” they noted.
“This unique fortified complex raises new research issues on the settlement of the Golan in the Iron Age.”