In the modern world, we don’t think of there being city walls. You can just drive into a city that could be thousands of square miles. This was not the case in the ancient cities, especially in places like Israel.
Why Did Cities have Walls?
Cities were fortified for security purposes. It was not uncommon for cities to be in constant states of war and ruin. This is why so many Israeli ruins are layers upon layers, each layer serving as the foundation for the next after destruction by other war or sometimes natural disaster.
These fortified walls were so strong that many have been discovered in archeological digs. Here is where you can see ancient city walls in Israel as your would have seen in the ancient world.
The old city… NOT THAT “OLD CITY”! Yes, we all know the walls of the old city with the city gates. But those walls are not that old by Israel standards! In fact, they are only about 500 years old, constructed by Suleiman the Magnificent during the Ottoman Empire. So no, Jesus and the Disciples were not walking through the gates and looking at the walls and ramparts you see today.
For that, you have to go a little outside the gates to the City of David. Ancient Jerusalem was actually down the hill from the current city walls. When the Romans laid waste to Jerusalem, they destroyed the city so thoroughly that they just left the ruins and built further up the hill by the Temple mount. For generations the dirt kept collecting and covering up the ancient ruins until they were all but forgotten.
Now the excavation continues to show amazing insight into life in ancient Israel, from the time of King David through the time of Jesus, and this includes fortified city walls. A lower wall has been located. It was a very exciting discovery!
What city walls are more infamous than the walls of Jericho? The Israelites circled the city walls for 7 days carrying the Ark of the Covenant before Joshua commanded everyone to blow horns and shout and then the wall fell.
Today you can still visit the tumbled walls in the world’s oldest city. Talk to your tour operator about adding this stop on your tour.
Megiddo and the Valley of Armageddon have the distinction of being the world’s battlefield. The first war ever recorded in history took place here. Megiddo has been destroyed and rebuilt an astonishing 25 times in antiquity. One of these levels was the layer constructed by King Solomon. His fortified city includes a city gate with six chambers that had turns in them to make it harder to advance into the city. Soldiers were also housed here in barracks.
You can visit Megiddo and many do so on the very first day of their tour.