JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists uncovered three-feet wide foundation walls dating to the First Temple period in the late 8th and early 7th centuries BC, when the prophet Jonah lived.
The team uncovered the massive walls during a construction excavation, a prerequisite to building under Israeli law to preserve Israel's national antiquities.
Archaeologists discovered the wall at Givat Yonah (Jonah's hill) in the coastal city of Ashdod, which some scholars believe could be the burial place of the prophet, who lived during the 8th century.
IAA archaeologist Dmitri Egorov, director of the excavation, said the walls were probably at the base of a large building, some type of stronghold or fortress.
An nearby excavation in the 1960s, led by Department of Antiquities archaeologist Magen Broshi prior to construction of the Ashdod lighthouse, uncovered similar walls dating to the First Temple and Persian periods.
IAA Ashkelon District archaeologist Sa'ar Ganor described Givat Yonah as the "highest hill" in Ashdod.
"Due to its strategic location, it is not surprising to find there remains of a fortress that overlooked the region in the First Temple period," Ganor said.
"There are two possibilities regarding who inhabited the fortress at that time: one possibility is that it was controlled by the Assyrians who were the regional rulers in the Iron Agem," he said.
"Another possibility is that Josiah, king of Judah, occupied the fort at the time, who we know conquered territory from the Assyrians and controlled Ashdod-Yam in the seventh century BCE," he said.
Finds from the 1960 excavation and the recent one verify that people lived in the area during Jonah's time.
Source: The Israel Antiquities Authority