Haluza (Israel) : 1700- year-old inscription found

It is rare that the name of a town is found in the town itself, making this the first archaeological evidence of Haluza.

Ben Bresky

Source - https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/1700-year-old-inscription-found-at-Negev-Excavation-583370

Archaeologists have uncovered a Greek inscription at the Haluza excavation in southern Israel indicating the name of the town. 
The name Haluza is mentioned in many historic sources, but this is the first archaeological evidence for the name of the city to be found at the site itself. 
It is one of the two main possible locations for the Biblical city of Ziklag, mentioned in Genesis and I Samuel. 

"Haluza was an important station for Christian pilgrims on their way to the Monastery of Santa Catarina in southern Sinai," said Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini, an archaeologist who worked on the project. 
The excavation has been ongoing for the past three years, led by a delegation of the German University of Cologne under the direction of Prof. Michael Heisenelmann and a team of students from the University of Cologne and the University of Bonn, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Haluza1Students from the University of Cologne work in the heating room of the bathhouse that was exposed in Haluza. Credit: DR. TALI ERICKSON-GINI / ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

The text, which reads "Elusa" in Greek, is currently being studied by Prof. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

In addition, a church and a bathhouse were uncovered in the area. The prayer niche facing east was exposed in the church and a room next to it was paved with stone slabs. The room was warmed by an underground heat transfer system which heated the floor and walls through ceramic pipes.

Researchers succeeded in reconstructing the city plan, identifying the main, large streets as well as the building style of the city.

Haluza was established at the end of the 4th century BCE as an important station on the Incense Route - the road that led from Petra in today's Jordan to Gaza, which at the time had a Jewish community. It continued to develop and reached its peak in the Byzantine period (6th-4th centuries CE), when tens of thousands of residents lived there. Haluza was the only major city in the Negev region during this period.

Haluza2The inscription on the site, which bears the name Haluza. Credit: DR. TALI ERICKSON-GINI / ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY

"The export of the fine wine produced in the Negev Highlands during the Byzantine period led to economic prosperity that affected the entire region," Dr. Erickson-Gini said.

The site ceased to exist at the end of the 7th century CE, but the name of the site was preserved by the Arabs who migrated to the region and named the ruins "Al-Khalisa." The famous American archaeologist Edward Robinson identified Al-Khalisa as Elusa in 1841.
During the Ottoman period, stones were taken from the site and used as construction materials for buildings in Gaza and Beersheba. Today, the site is almost devoid of surface structures, with the archaeological treasures being hidden beneath the sand.