E. Ayalon, A. Baron, P. Beck, R. Ben-Dov, A. Biran, B. Brandl, S. Bunimowitz,
V. Eshed, J. M. Cahill, B. C. Cresson, T. Dayan, D. Goldsmith, I. Finkelstein,
M. Fischer, L. Freud, Y. Goren,
M. Hershkowitz, I. Hershkovitz, A. Horowitz, L. K. Horwitz,
T. Kertesz, A. Kindler, R. Kletter, G. Lehrer-Jacobson, N. Liphschitz, J.
Naveh, O. Negbi, W. Neidinger, A. Ovadiah, O. Tal
TEL AVIV 1999
In 1979 the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University commenced
digging at this important hill-top site between Beersheba and Arad, continuing
until 1987. After brief occupation in the Early Bronze Age III, a thriving
city and its large cemetery stood at Tel Ira until destroyed at the end
of the Iron Age. Sporadic occupation in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman
periods was followed by the construction of a monastic complex in the
This detailed and comprehensive final report of the excavations includes
studies on the ceramic, epigraphic, numismatic, mosaic and stone finds
as well as botanical, faunal and human remains.
xxii + 520 pages, 406 figures and photograph, 8 colour plates.
Hard cover. Price: $ 60.00
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: SETTLEMENT
IN THE EASTERN NEGEV
Chapter 2: THE SITE AND HISTORY OF EXCAVATION
PART ONE: STRATIGRAPHY & ARCHITECTURE
Chapter 3: DESCRIPTION OF EXCAVATED AREAS
Chapter 4: THE CEMETERY
Aileen G.Baron, Itzhaq Beit-Arieh
Chapter 5: STRATIGRAPHY & HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
PART TWO: FINDS
Chapter 6: POTTERY
Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, Moshe Fischer, Liora Freud, Malka Hershkovitz, Oren
Chapter 7. CLAY FIGURINES
Pirhiyah Beck, Raz Kletter
Chapter 8. THE JEWELLERY FROM THE TOMBS
Chapter 9. EPIGRAPHIC FINDS
Baruch Brandl, Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, Joseph Naveh
Chapter 10. STONE ARTEFACTS FROM THE BYZANTINE
Moshe Fischer, Oren Tal
Chapter 11. THE MONASTIC COMPLEX AND ITS MOSAICS
Chapter 12. NUMISMATIC FINDS
Chapter 13. GLASS BOTTLES FROM THE EARLY
Chapter 14. MISCELLANEOUS FINDS
Rahel Ben-Dov, Danny Goldsmith, Trudi Kertesz
PART THREE: INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES
Chapter 15. BOTANICAL REMAINS
Chapter 16. FAUNAL REMAINS
Tamar Dayan, Liora Kolska Horwitz
Chapter 17. HUMAN SKELETAL REMAINS
Vered Eshed, Israel Herskovitz, S. Wish-Baratz
SETTLEMENT IN THE EASTERN NEGEV
The Arad - Beersheba valley (the eastern biblical Negev) is possibly one
of the most thoroughly archaeologically researched regions of Israel (Fig.
1.1). Most of the area has been surveyed by teams from the Archaeological
Survey of Israel and all the large sites have been (or are being) excavated
(Fig. 1.2; Table 1.1).
This area was apparently only sparsely populated during the Paleolithic
period. Settlement intensified during the Chalcolithic. Settlements from
this period were discovered initially along Nahal Beersheba, in the vicinity
of the modern town of that name. Subsequently, Chalcolithic remains were
found at sites eastward in the direction of Arad, as well as between Arad
and Tel Shoqet. At some of these sites (Arad and Small Tel Malhata) occupation
continued into Early Bronze I and II. At others there was an occupational
gap during Early Bronze I and occupation resumed either in Early Bronze
II (e.g. Tel Esdar) or only in the Middle Bronze II period (e.g. Tel Masos
and Tel Malhata). All phases of the Early Bronze Age are represented in
the eastern Negev.
In Middle Bronze Age II an archaeological hiatus appears to have existed
in the area. Only two sites, Tel Masos and Tel Malhata, are known to have
been occupied as fortresses during this period. This absence of settlement
continued through the Late Bronze Age when even these sites were abandoned.
During the early phases of the Iron Age (12th-10th centuries B.C.E.) settlement
resumed at Tel Beersheba, Tel Masos, Tel Malhata, Arad, Tel Esdar and
at Yattir Site. In addition, various areas now built over by the modern
city of Beersheba were also settled. Judaean occupation of the region
continued, with certain changes, till the end of the 8th century B.C.E.
At that time there were three fortified settlements in the region: Tel
Beersheba (Stratum II) at the western end of the Judahite Negev (Aharoni
1973:4-8), Tel Malhata in the central area (Beit-Arieh 1998) and Arad
(Stratum VIII) at its eastern end (Aharoni 1981:8; Herzog et al. 1984:19-22).
There were probably also several large settlements, at Tel Shoqet, Horvat
Hur and Horvat Yittan (Govrin 1991:17) and a number of scattered small
settlements. On the other hand, the settlements at Tel Esdar and Nahal
Yattir Site ceased to exist after the 8th century B.C.E.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the Judaean Negev reached its floruit
in the 7th century B.C.E. At Arad the fortress continued in this phase
(Aharoni 1973, 1981; Herzog et al. 1984:22-26), as did settlements at
Tel Ira, Tel Aroer, Tel Malhata, Tel Masos and probably Tel Shoqet, Horvat
Hur, Horvat Yittan, and several others within the area of modern Beersheba.
Moreover, fortresses were built at Horvat Uza (and near it a settlement),
Horvat Tov, Horvat
Radum and Horvat Anim. In addition to these settlements, there arose alongside
them farmsteads (unpublished).
The archaeological picture during this phase shows a considerable increase
of Judahite settlement in the eastern Negev, especially as regards fortified
sites along the eastern border, of which four strongholds -Horvat Tov,
Tel Arad, Horvat Uza and Horvat Radum - are representative. In addition,
the settlement at Tel Ira, which at that time was the largest and most
strongly fortified town of the region, emphasizes the need for such strongholds.
The hypothesis that fortified settlements were built to guard against
incursions by bordering Arab desert tribes or by Edomites (Aharoni 1981:151;
Malamat 1983:284-185; Na'aman 1987:15; Rainey 1987:25; Ephal 1982:81-169;
Beit-Arieh 1995) seems valid. Historically, this view has a basis in numerous
biblical passages, from which it is clear that relations between Judah
and Edom abounded in repeated struggles, conquests and a deep hostility
that had its origins already in the period of the United Kingdom (II Samuel
8-14; I Kings 22:48; II Kings 8:20-22, 14:7, 22, 16:6; Isaiah 35, 63:1-6;
Jeremiah 49:7-22; Ezekiel 24:2 14, 35:1-6; Joel 4:19; Amos 1:11-12; Obadiah;
Malachi 1:25; Liver 1964).
Archaeological support is provided by the Edomite pottery dating to the
7th century B.C.E. that was found at many settlements in the eastern Negev,
e.g. Tel Aroer, Tel Malhata, Tel Arad, Tel Masos and Tel >Ira (Mazar,
E. 1985; Beit-Arieh 1995, 1998). There are also several epigraphic finds
from the same period that contribute to the evidence. Among these are
a seal inscribed לקוסא (leqosa QWS = QAUS, the principal Edomite deity),
a fragment of an Edomite ostracon from Tel Aroer (Biran and Cohen 1981:264;
Biran 1982:162), Inscriptions Nos. 3, 21, 40 from Arad, in which both
Edom and Edomite persons are mentioned in a somewhat obscure context (Aharoni
1981), Ostracon No. 24 from Arad in which the Edomite threat looming over
Judah is made dramatically plain in the last phrase "Lest Edom come
there" (Aharoni 1981), and the ostracon from Horvat Uza bearing a
blessing in the name of the Edomite deity Qaus addressed to a high Edomite
official resident either at the fort itself or somewhere nearby (Beit-Arieh
and Cresson 1985). This last may testify to an official Edomite presence
in the region. Further important confirmation of this Edomite presence
is the shrine at Horvat Qitmit (Beit-Arieh 1995) apparently designed to
serve the ritual needs of an Edomite population in this area.
New evidence of Edomite involvement in the eastern Negev came to light
recently when more Edomite pottery and Qitmit-type figurines were uncovered
in our excavations at Tel Malhata (Beit-Arieh 1998). Additional indications
of Edomite control of the route from the Arava to the Arad - Beersheba
valley has been discovered of late at En Hazeva in the northern Arava,
where a small Edomite cult place was uncovered (Cohen 1995; Cohen and
Israel 1995a; 1995b).
The above evidence may be taken to reflect Edomite penetration into the
eastern Negev, probably around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem.
The reasons for this incursion may well have been to control trade routes
through the region, and also perhaps to exploit its economic resources.
Therefore the fortifications in the eastern Negev can plausibly be attributed
to Judahite - Edomite hostility at a time when Assyria, the then dominant
power in the region, was diverting its major strength toward Egypt and
was physically in control of the southern coastal plain of Eretz Israel
The Neo-Babylonian period is minimally represented in the finds from our
excavations. Only a group of vessels recovered from one of the tombs (T-13)
can be assigned to it at the present time. These vessels seem indicative
of some kind of occupation at the site, which continued even after the
destruction of the town at the beginning of the 6th century B.C.E. However,
once the material from all excavated sites in the region has been thoroughly
sifted and processed, it may be discovered that there is evidence of additional
settlement during Neo-Babylonian times.
During the Persian period the northeastern Negev was relatively sparsely
populated. The main centres were at Arad and Tel Beersheba which, by all
accounts, served as regional administrative and military centres for the
Persian rulers and were designed to stem any incursion of desert tribes.
In Stratum H3 at Tel Beersheba segments of walls dating to this period
were exposed in the fortress (Aharoni 1973; Naveh 1973:82) and likewise
at Arad (Aharoni 1981:8; Naveh 1981:153-176). An additional Persian administrative
centre, which evidently was designed to dominate the En Gedi plain, was
uncovered at Tel Goren (Stratum V) (Mazar et al. 1966). Contemporaneously
a small settlement existed at Tel Ira and there were also small settlements
at several sites in the western part of the Judaean Negev (Govrin 1991:18).
An agricultural settlement with a central building (perhaps a khan) was
uncovered at Nahal Yattir Site, some 5 km. from Tel Beersheba (Govrin
1991:13-23). Aramaic ostraca in which the theophoric syllable qos appears
in personal names (Naveh 1973:Ostraca Nos. 1, 10, 20, 32, 33, 80-81) attests
to a continuing Edomite presence. The names appearing on Aramaic ostraca
(mainly from Arad and Tel Beersheba) suggest that the population of the
area in this period was of diverse character and included Jews, Edomites
and Arabs (Naveh 1973:82).