Tel Be'er Sheva
|Tel Be'er Sheva
|Location||Near Beersheba, Israel|
|Official name: Biblical Tells – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba|
|Criteria||ii, iii, iv, vi|
|Designated||2005 (29th session)|
Tel Be'er Sheva (Hebrew: תל באר שבע) is an archeological site in southern Israel believed to be the remains of the biblical town of Beersheba. It lies east of the modern city of Beersheba and west of the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva.
Beersheba is mentioned numerous times in the Tanakh, often as a means of describing the borders of the Land of Israel, extending from "Be'er Sheva to Dan" (see Judges 20:1-3, I Samuel 3:19-21). The name is derived from the Hebrew Be'er, meaning a well, and Sheva, meaning "to swear an oath."
Tel Be'er Sheva was excavated from 1969 to 1976 by the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology, directed by Prof. Yohanan Aharoni, except for the last season which was led by Prof. Ze'ev Herzog. These excavations were directed towards uncovering the Iron Age Israelite city at the site. Excavations were renewed by Prof Herzog between 1993 and 1995 in order to complete the uncovering of the town's water system.
The site was renovated by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in 1990. In 2003, its water system was opened to the public as well. The excavated town is now part of the Tel Beersheva National Park.
In 2007, Tel Be'er Sheva was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of more than 200 tels in Israel, Beersheba was cited as one of the most representative, containing substantial remains of a city with biblical connections.
Archeological finds indicate that the tell was inhabited from the Chalcolithic period, around 4000 BCE, through to the sixteenth century CE. This was probably due to the abundance of underground water, as evidenced by the numerous wells in the area. The settlement dates from the early Israelite period, around the tenth century BCE.
The streets of ancient Be'er Sheva are laid out in a grid, with separate areas for administrative, military, commercial and residential use. The town is regarded as the first planned settlement in the region. The site is also noteworthy for its elaborate water system and huge cistern, carved out of the rock beneath the town.
The fifth season of excavations at the Tel uncovered definite evidence of a temple at the site, when the well-dressed ashlar blocks of a large horned altar, reminiscent of small Iron Age incense altars, were found in secondary use in the walls of a storehouse. This structure had been destroyed in the late 8th century BCE, probably during Sennacherib's campaign against Judah in 701 BCE, and was apparently reconstructed at the time of the dismantling of the altar. The find, along with the contemporary sanctuary in Tel Arad, may serve as confirmation of the reforms of King Hezekiah and his suppression of shrines outside Jerusalem, described in 2 Kings 18. The altar is currently on display in the Israel Museum, and a replica has been installed at Tel Be'er Sheva.
- The Beer-Sheba Negev Expedition. Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology. 1976.
- "Tel Beer Sheva National Park" (pdf). Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Retrieved August 24, 2011.
- Israel celebrates 8 new UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Biblical tels constitute 'testimony of universal value,' while Nabataean towns illustrate ancient trade routes
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