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Questions about the Middle East

Were cities in the ancient Middle East surrounded by high walls for protection?
   Greg, Web post

Dr. dig responds:
There is indeed a great deal of archaeological evidence for the entrance systems to ancient and medieval cities in the Middle East. Ancient cities tended to be on hills, which allowed them to be well-defended, and walls were built into the hills to protect the cities. The walls had large main gates at a few places and small entrance gates, called posterns, at several places that would allow occupants to enter without vehicles or animals. Posterns usually were placed at the rear side of a hill, opposite the main approaches. The main gates were often extremely complex, as a means of deterring attackers. There is also archaeological evidence for gates at virtually every city or city ruin where defensive walls are intact. Some of the best-known gateways were in ancient Babylon and Mycenae. In the city of Babylon, the sacred Ishtar Gate was decorated with blue-glazed bricks and animals. In the citadel of Mycenae, the main entrance was through a gate surmounted by a frieze of lions, white the postern gate was a small access at the rear of the hill. However, you do not need to visit an ancient ruin to see gate systems of this type. Several present-day cities--Jerusalem and Cairo, for example--still have intact sections of medieval walls that follow the same system.


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