Courtesy Tell es-Safi excavation

In the trenches. Two workers stand inside one of the most unusual features uncovered at Tell es-Safi, a 1.5-mile-long trench that surrounded the site on three sides. It is 20 feet deep, 25 feet wide at its top and 13 feet wide at its bottom, which is squared off and smooth. The trench served as a dry moat—not to keep attackers out but to keep the city’s inhabitants in during a siege. Based on references to siege moats in ancient records, the excavators suggest that they have uncovered the first example of a siege method practiced by the Arameans, a kingdom based in Syria. From the pottery inside the trench and from a site-wide destruction layer, they deduce that ancient Gath succumbed to an attack in the late ninth century B.C.E.