Sheikh Danun

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Sheikh Dannun
שֵּׁיח' דַּנּוּן
الشيخ دنون
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • official Sheikh Dannun
French map of the area, in 1799[1]
French map of the area, in 1799[1]
Sheikh Dannun is located in Israel
Sheikh Dannun
Sheikh Dannun
Coordinates: 32°59′29.77″N 35°8′52.24″E / 32.9916028°N 35.1478444°E / 32.9916028; 35.1478444Coordinates: 32°59′29.77″N 35°8′52.24″E / 32.9916028°N 35.1478444°E / 32.9916028; 35.1478444
Council Mateh Asher
Region Upper Galilee (western)
Population (2014) +3,200

Sheikh Dannun (Arabic: الشيخ دنون‎, Hebrew: שֵּׁיח' דַּנּוּן); also transliterated as Sheikh Danun and Sheikh Danon) is an Arab village located in Israel's North District. Since 1948, it has been made up of two old villages - Shaykh Danun and Shaykh Dawud (or Daud, meaning "David") - which were merged, and are now jointly referred to as Sheikh Dannun. Located on a hill overlooking the plains of Acre, both of these old villages were built around a tomb for a sheikh, and share a similar history.[2]


The history of the site is ancient. Burial chambers dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age were discovered in the north of the modern day village, at the end of a shaft leading from a man-made cave carved into the northern slope of the chalk hill upon which Sheikh Dawud is situated. Potsherds dating to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods have also been collected at the site.[3] An old quarry has been excavated, including a small area probably used as a winepress.[4]

Survey of Western Palestine map from 1880, showing the area, including Kh. Buda

Khirbet Buda, another ancient site identified at the southeast corner of the modern village, contains remains from the Roman or Byzantine period. These include three oil presses, tombs with loculi of which one is engraved with a cross, and one grave with a square courtyard containing three arcosolia.[5] Under the name Kfar Barada (possibly a calligraphic error) it was mentioned as part of the domain of the Crusaders during the hudna between the Crusaders based in Acre and the Mamluk sultan al-Mansur (Qalawun) in 1283.[6]

Both villages are mentioned in the writings of Western travellers to Ottoman Palestine in the 19th century. Andrew Alexander Bonar and Robert Murray M'Cheyne who visited in the mid-19th century describe Sheikh Daud as one of many small villages scattered over a "beautiful plain", located just off the road, that was "once a Christian village."[7] V. Guérin, who visited the place later that same century, described Danun as a hamlet grouped around the tomb of Shaykh Danun. Of the shrine (wali) in neighbouring Shaykh Dawud, he writes that it was surmounted by two domes, one larger than the other and estimated the population of that hamlet to be about 50. One house in the village is described as larger and better built than the others and said to belong to a powerful sheikh.[8]

The Survey of Western Palestine (1881) writes of Shaykh Danun that it was a "small village, built of stone and mud, contains about 50 Muslims, on the edge of a plain, with stream of water near."[9] Shaykh Dawud is similarly described, but with 70 Muslims, and "surrounded by olives and arable land."[9]

During British rule over Mandate Palestine, the 1931 census of Palestine listed 39 inhabited houses in Sheikh Danun, populated by 155 Muslim inhabitants. Sheikh Dawud had 48 houses, inhabited by 222 Muslims.[10]

According to Dawud Bader, Sheikh Danun has later received many new inhabitants, including internally displaced persons from the depopulated Palestinian villages of Al-Ghabisiyya, Amqa, Kuwaykat, Al-Nahr and Umm al-Faraj.[11]


A report by the Palestine Antiquities Department (1931) on Shaykh Danun found that the village contained a built maqām (shrine), with a few houses and rock-cuttings located nearby.[2] Andrew Petersen, an archaeologist specializing in Islamic architecture, visited the Maqam Shaykh Danun in 1991, and notes that though it is hidden amongst houses, it is visible because of its tall white dome. He describes the shrine as consisting of two parts: one modern concrete annex on the north side, and one older part containing a prayer room and a mausoleum.[2] The prayer room was built after the mausoleum, probably during the period of Ottoman rule in Palestine.[12] A large square room roofed by a large dome, it has a mihrab in the south wall, next to a modern stone minbar.[2] The mausoleum has an iwan at its north end, and the stone cenotaph beneath it is covered in green cloth. Below a wooden frame in the middle of the room is the entrance to a cave. Based on the design, Petersen determined that the mausoleum may date to the Mamluk era, while the cave is probably a Byzantine era tomb that was subsequently reused.[12]

The Maqam Shaykh Dawud stands in the middle of a cemetery on the summit of a hill. It is covered by two large domes and one smaller one. The interior is divided into two parts, consisting of a prayer room and a mausoleum. The mausoleum contains two cenotaphs. According to the villagers, Dawud (Arabic for "David") was a Muslim warrior who died fighting the Crusaders. Petersen dates the mausoleum to the medieval period (i.e. pre-16th century), while the prayer room might be newer, possibly from Ottoman times.[12]


Sheikh Danun is one of the two Arab localities in the Matte Asher Regional Council. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (2006), the village had a population of 2,300 mostly Muslim inhabitants.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacotin, 1826. See also Siege of Acre (1799)
  2. ^ a b c d Petersen, 2002, p.281
  3. ^ Getzov, 2008, Sheikh Danon, Esh-Sheikh Dawud Final Report
  4. ^ Porat, 2006, Sheikh Danon Final Report
  5. ^ Claudine Dauphin, La Palestine Byzantine. III: Catalogue, BAR International Series 726, 1998, p. 636.
  6. ^ Dan Barag, A new source concerning the ultimate borders of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Israel Exploration Journal, Vol. 29, 1979, pp. 197-217.
  7. ^ Bonar and M'Cheyne, 1849, p. 315.
  8. ^ Guérin, 1880, pp. 29-30. Cited in Petersen, 2002, p.281-2
  9. ^ a b Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 147
  10. ^ Mills, 1932, pp. 102–103
  11. ^ Masalha, 2005, p.84
  12. ^ a b c Petersen, 2002, p.282
  13. ^ Population of localities numbering above 1,000 residents and other rural population on 31 December 2006, Israel Central Bureau of Statistics


External links[edit]