The fortresses in the Central Negev were built according to three plans: oval, square and rectangular. Solid lines illustrate excavated features; open or dotted lines represent the archaeologist’s reconstruction. At each fortress a casemate wall encloses a central courtyard. The repeated pattern of these fotress shapes suggests that they were part of a unified network built in a brief timespan, perhaps during the reign of one monarch. The author speculates that the fortresses were all built by order of King Solomon, in the tenth century B.C., and that they endured for no more than 50 years.

Why were fortresses constructed in three different shapes? No one knows for sure, but two theories are proposed. Different architects may have been responsible for the different designs, or a short time lapse between the construction of the different types of fortresses may have allowed new defensive groundplans to come into vogue.