Finds from a WWI battlefield in Israel

Archaeologists managed to discover evidence of fierce battles between the British and Ottoman armies in the form of dozens of bullet cartridges, shell fragments and military items near Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel.

Finds from the site (by Clara Amit & Israel Antiquities Authority)

The artefacts were discovered by volunteer archaeologists during excavation conducted prior to paving an access road between Rosh Ha’ayin and the Afek Industrial Park, in the Migdal Tzedek National Park. The researchers found rifle cartridges, shrapnel from artillery shells and even an insignia from the British forces’ unit.

Survey of the area (by Gili Stern & Israel Antiquities Authority)

The artefacts were discovered by accident. After initial discovery of a single rifle cartridge, further numerous fragments of artillery shells and part of a British army cap bearing an insignia were discovered. The team also discovered the remains of two Ottoman military outposts, one near an agricultural field and another near an older tower. The finds attest to a battle taking place in the area. According to the researchers, the British and the Ottoman forces faced off in a major skirmish on Sept. 19, 1918, part of the larger Battle of Megiddo. Two battalions, one-fourth and one-fifth of the British Norfolk Regiment, attacked the ridge where the excavated site is located, in order to assist another battalion that attacked the Ottoman fortifications. At the time, the British were vying for control of Israel (then called Palestine), which was occupied by the Ottomans. The rifles and cartridges were manufactured in Germany and were supplied shortly before the battle, evidence that the Turks were dependent upon their German allies for weapons and ammunition.

British WWI unit insignia (by Clara Amit & Israel Antiquities Authority)

The researchers state that the artefacts allow for reconstruction of the battle. Based on the artillery shells and shrapnel balls found at the site it was concluded that the British attacked the Turkish forces with 18-pounder guns. Bullet cartridges from Mauser rifles were found on the Turkish side, suggesting that the Turks returned fire with light arms. The Turkish forces sustained casualties, but still managed return fire.

(after Clara Amit, Gili Stern, Live Science, Arutz Sheva, Jewish Press & Israel Antiquities Authority)

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