Ancient earthquake may have caused destruction of Canaanite palace at Tel Kabri


Graphic: Aerial see exhibiting the Southern Storage Complex (SSC), the Northern Storage Complex (NSC blue dashed box) and the trench (purple dashed traces)
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Credit score: Eric Cline/GW

WASHINGTON (Sept. eleven, 2020)–A group of Israeli and American researchers funded by grants from the Nationwide Geographic Culture and the Israel Science Basis has uncovered new evidence that an earthquake may perhaps have brought about the destruction and abandonment of a flourishing Canaanite palatial web page about three,seven hundred decades ago.

The team created the discovery at the seventy five-acre web page of Tel Kabri in Israel, which is made up of the ruins of a Canaanite palace and city that dates again to close to 1900-1700 B.C. The excavations, situated on land belonging to Kibbutz Kabri in the western Galilee area, are co-directed by Assaf Yasur-Landau, a professor of Mediterranean archaeology at the University of Haifa, and Eric Cline, a professor of classics and anthropology at the George Washington University.

“We wondered for quite a few decades what had brought about the unexpected destruction and abandonment of the palace and the web page, soon after hundreds of years of flourishing occupation,” Yasur-Landau reported. “A few seasons ago, we began to uncover a trench which runs by portion of the palace, but preliminary indications proposed that it was present day, most likely dug within the previous few many years or a century or two at most. But then, in 2019, we opened up a new area and discovered that the trench ongoing for at least thirty meters, with an overall portion of a wall that had fallen into it in antiquity, and with other partitions and floors tipping into it on possibly facet.”

In accordance to Michael Lazar, the guide creator of the examine, recognizing previous earthquakes can be particularly complicated in the archaeological document, in particular at web sites the place there isn’t really significantly stone masonry and the place degradable design components like solar-dried mud bricks and wattle-and-daub were being applied rather. At Tel Kabri, nevertheless, the group discovered both equally stone foundations for the bottom portion of the partitions and mud-brick superstructures higher than.

“Our scientific tests exhibit the value of combining macro- and micro-archaeological methods for the identification of ancient earthquakes,” he reported. “We also necessary to examine different scenarios, which include climatic, environmental and economic collapse, as very well as warfare, right before we were being confident in proposing a seismic celebration circumstance.”

The researchers could see places the place the plaster floors appeared warped, partitions had tilted or been displaced, and mud bricks from the partitions and ceilings had collapsed into the rooms, in some instances promptly burying dozens of huge jars.

“It actually appears to be like like the earth merely opened up and anything on possibly facet of it fell in,” Cline reported. “It’s not likely that the destruction was brought about by violent human action for the reason that there are no noticeable signs of fireplace, no weapons this kind of as arrows that would indicate a battle, nor any unburied bodies similar to fight. We could also see some surprising points in other rooms of the palace, which include in and around the wine cellar that we excavated a few decades ago.”

In 2013, the group uncovered forty jars within a single storage place of the palace all through an expedition also supported by a Nationwide Geographic Culture grant. An natural and organic residue evaluation carried out on the jars indicated that they held wine it was explained at the time as the oldest and major wine cellar still uncovered in the Near East. Due to the fact then, the group has discovered 4 more this kind of storage rooms and at least 70 more jars, all buried by the collapse of the setting up.

“The flooring deposits indicate a immediate collapse relatively than a slow accumulation of degraded mud bricks from standing partitions or ceilings of an abandoned construction,” Ruth Shahack-Gross, a professor of geoarchaeology at the University of Haifa and a co-creator on the examine, reported. “The immediate collapse, and the fast burial, mixed with the geological setting of Tel Kabri, raises the likelihood that one particular or more earthquakes could have ruined the partitions and the roof of the palace without having setting it on fireplace.”

The investigators are hopeful that their methodological strategy can be used at other archaeological web sites, the place it can provide to check or fortify instances of probable earthquake hurt and destruction.


Roey Nickelsberg, a graduate pupil at the University of Haifa, also contributed to the investigation and ultimate examine.

The findings were being posted currently in the journal PLOS One particular. The Nationwide Geographic Culture, the Israel Science Basis, GW, the University of Haifa and personal donations funded the investigation.


Appropriate visuals are offered in this article. Captions are offered on request.

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