Iron Age site approximately 2 acres in area located in a southern suburb of modern Jerusalem that bears the same name. Giloh is located on a high ridge 830 m above sea level, overlooking the entire Jerusalem and Bethlehem area. Small-scale salvage excavations were directed here between 1978 and 1982 by Amihai Mazar, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Department of Antiquities. The ancient name of the site is unknown; it should not be confused with biblical Giloh, which must be located south of Hebron (Jos. 15:51). It may be the Ba῾al-Peraṣim mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:20 or the Har-Peraṣim in Isaiah 28:21.

Giloh is one of the few Iron Age I sites excavated in the central hill country. It was abandoned after the Iron Age and subsequently destroyed by erosion and human activity. A shallow defensive wall surrounded at least its southern part. A solid square stone structure (11.58 × 11.15 m) at its northern part may be the foundation of a building, perhaps a fortified tower.

The site was divided by long walls into large, subsidiary areas that may be animal pens. Dwellings were constructed along the defense wall and near some of the inner dividing walls. It thus appears that the settlement was divided into family units consisting of dwellings attached to animal pens. The one house that was excavated appears to be an early version of the pillared houses that are typical of the Iron Age in Palestine—an early example of a four-room house. [See Four-room House.] No cisterns were found at the site, so that water was probably transported from springs located in the Sorek Valley farther to the north. It is estimated that about a dozen families settled here, living on stock breeding and some agriculture. The enclosure wall and the solid tower suggest that the settlement faced challenges to its security, which its proximity to Jebusite Jerusalem may have created.

Giloh's Iron I material culture resembles that at other central hill country sites. Collared-rim store jars, small storage jars, and cooking pots comprise most of the rather limited ceramic assemblage. The pottery is made in a local Canaanite tradition, but no decorated pottery was found. The site appears to have been settled in the twelfth century BCE and may have been abandoned in the eleventh.

The inhabitants' socioeconomic status is similar to that apparent at many other Iron I sites in the hill country. It has been suggested that these settlers were part of an Iron I wave of settlement in the hill country that is commonly identified with the appearance of the Israelites in this region.

In the Iron II (8th-7th centuries BCE), an isolated, large (10 × 10 m) tower was constructed at the summit of the site. Its massive stone walls created a podium on which an unpreserved superstructure would have been constructed. The tower was probably part of Jerusalem's defense system. It would have been used for observation and to give warning to the city by fire signals.

Bibliography

  • Mazar, Amihai. “An Early Israelite Settlement Site Near Jerusalem.” Israel Exploration Journal 31 (1981): 1–36.
  • Mazar, Amihai. “Iron Age I and II Towers at Giloh and the Israelite Settlement.” Israel Exploration Journal 40 (1990): 77–101.

Amihai Mazar