Japanese archaeologists in Israel hunting for biblical city of Anaharath



An archaeological survey led by researchers from Tenri University is underway in Israel to locate Anaharath, a city mentioned in the Old Testament.

“This is the likeliest place,” Yoshinobu Tatsumi, a curator at Tenri University Sankokan Museum in Tenri, Nara Prefecture, said.

Tatsumi was describing Tel Rekhesh, a hilly site with a history dating back over multiple periods. It is 350 by 150 meters in size and is located around 70 km north of Jerusalem.

Anaharath, found in an inscription in ancient Egypt from the 15th century B.C., is thought to have been a flourishing Canaanite city. The ancient Israelites later invaded the surrounding area and allocated the city to one of their tribes, according to the Old Testament and other documents.

Tenri University began participating in excavation work in Israel half a century ago. Its archaeological studies at Tel Rekhesh began in 2006 and involve institutions including Rikkyo University.

The joint project has so far discovered structures that may have been a castle’s outer walls and gate as well as an olive mill. It has also uncovered objects including a mask in clay and a statue of a female divinity.

Many of the unearthed articles date from the 13th and 12th centuries B.C., a period close to the Old Testament’s description of Anaharath.

On the other hand, clear evidence of war damage has yet to come to light.

“It may be fair to say that Anaharath, if it was on this site, continued to be managed as a city since the age of the Canaanites,” said Tatsumi, an expert on archaeology in West Asia.

The joint project involves Japanese archaeologists working with a range of people, including Japanese students, Israeli scholars and Arabs.

Excavation work at Tel Rekhesh is getting into full swing after digging near the site’s central part started last summer. Experts are using radio probes and other high-tech devices.