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Israeli soldiers working with archaeologists have excavated the remains of a watchtower on a paratroopers' training base in southern Israel. Pottery discovered at the base of the watchtower dates it to the reign of King Hezekiah in the eighth century BC. The ruins, which include massive stones weighing as much as eight tons, measure 3.5m by 5m at its base. Based on these dimensions, the original watchtower likely stood at least 4m high. According to archaeologists, the watchtower went out of use in 701 BC, when King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah and destroyed many cities and villages. The location of the tower, overlooking the Hebron and Judean hills as well as the coastal area near Ashkelon, suggest that it was an observation tower that likely used smoke and fire as beacons to warn of impending enemy attacks. Both the Lachish letters and the Bible (Jer. 6:1) describe such signals.

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