Moats in ancient Palestine
Abstract: This is the first in-depth study of moats as a part of fortifications in Palestine from prehistoric times until the end of the Iron Age. The author proposes a relation between the shape of a moat and its function. This function was not always defensive since a moat could also protect a site against floods and be used as a quarry or a borrow-pit for other constructional enterprises. Other possible functions are also discussed. Moats in Palestine were usually not water-filled.A large number of moats is described and compared with moats in Palestine's neighbouring areas. They are related to other elements of fortifications as e.g. city walls, ramparts, glacis, bastions and towers. Moats appear in Palestine mainly during periods of high urbanisation, i.e. the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Several moats have been found around the rampart cities on the plains during the Middle Bronze Age while during the Iron Age most moats appear at hilltop sites. In the latter case they usually cut off a mountain ridge that would otherwise give enemies easy access to the site.Moats in ancient written sources and in ancient illustrations are briefly surveyed. These sources do not add much information to our knowledge of moats in ancient Palestine. There is only one passage in the Old Testament that clearly refers to a moat, Dan 9:25. The Hebrew word for 'moat' is derived from the Semitic root that also refers to moats in Aramaean and Akkadian texts, i.e. &rË. Other suggestions for Hebrew words in the Old Testament that may refer to moats are discussed and dismissed.
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