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Abraham’s Gate: An ancient biblical landmark

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Daniel Esparza - published on 04/25/23

The gate is not exactly a gate, and it is not exactly Abraham’s either. It is a Bronze Age mud-brick gate that has been traditionally related to biblical narratives.

Abraham’s Gate is a historical landmark located in the city of Lod, Israel – the same city that is said to house St. George’s tomb and a lost Christian relic, the image of the Virgin at Lod. According to Middle-Eastern Christian traditions, the image was created when the Virgin Mary visited the town during her lifetime, and left an imprint of her image on a stone – very much like the Image of Edessa or Veronica’s Veil, in Jesus’ case.

Abraham’s Gate is not exactly a gate, and it is not exactly Abraham’s either. It is a Bronze Age mud-brick gate that has been traditionally related to the biblical narrative of Abraham traveling to Dan with his nephew Lot. It may have been the main entrance to the city, made of mud bricks on top of megalithic basalt standing stones, and estimated to have been built around 1750 BC.

The door is believed to have once marked the entrance to the ancient city of Lydda, which later became Lod. The gate is named after Abraham, the biblical patriarch who is said to have passed through the city during his travels, although it is much more likely that the gate got its name just because it is dated from the Canaanite period of the Bronze Age – Abraham’s period.

The gate itself was rediscovered in 1871 by British archaeologist Charles Warren, who was excavating the area on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund ­– the oldest organization in the world, created back in 1865, specifically for the study of the region. Buried under layers of rubble and soil, the arch was partially reconstructed in the early 20th century. It now stands as a symbol of the city’s long, rich history and millennial heritage as an important crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The gate is entirely made of mud and stone. About seven meters (23 feet) high, the structure comprises three arches made from sun-dried mud bricks on top of a foundation of large basalt stones. It has two towers and a horizontal structure linking them below. These arches are the oldest that have ever been found in Israel.

Over the centuries, the gate has been used for a variety of purposes. For example, during the Byzantine period, it was incorporated into the city’s defenses, and during the Crusader period, it served as a gatehouse for a nearby fortress.

Today, Abraham’s Gate is one of the most popular tourist attractions and pilgrimage destinations in Lod. Visitors walk through the arches as if following the footsteps of Abraham himself.

In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve and restore the gate. In 2016, the Israeli government announced an important investment and development plan to improve the facilities in the area around the gate, including the construction of a new visitors’ center. These efforts aim to ensure that Abraham’s Gate remains a beloved landmark for generations to come.

Tags:
ArchaeologyHoly LandIsrael
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