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Khirbet al-Mukhayyat on Mount Nebo, Jordan

Khirba (Arabic: خربة‎‎ "ruin"[1]), khirbat, khirbeh or khirbet, in Palestine, and mainly in specific dry areas such as that of Hebron, mostly refers to a secondary or satellite village on the outskirts of an agricultural village; it can alternatively refer to an abandoned village, uncultivated land or land unsuited for cultivation, or a ruin.[2] The Palestinian pastoralist in the South Hebron region use the word in the sense of small village," and attach it to the name of the sites where they live.[3]

History in Palestine[edit]

Hamlets known as khirba became widespread in Palestine in the early 20th century. A khirba was an area used intermittently during the year, primarily during the plowing or harvest seasons.[4] It consisted of a few huts on outlying agricultural land that were inhabited on a seasonal basis. As a defense against Bedouin raids, many villagers in Ottoman Palestine built homes in the central hills and descended to the plains seasonally to sow crops and harvest them:[5] thus, a "mother" village in the hills might have a "daughter" village in the plains.[6] These seasonal satellite villages began to grow as the population drifted westward.[7] From the 1920s onward, many of them developed into independent villages. In cases where the khirba was established very close to the main village, the khirba sometimes became a neighborhood within the village.[4]

In the Hebron area, the Arabic term khirba refers to land that was uncultivated or unfit for cultivation, and thus of low value;[2] so this term is distinct from the similar-sounding Hebrew khurbah/khurbat, meaning "ruin".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Denys Pringle (2009). Abbreviations: Kh. Secular Buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: An Archaeological Gazetteer. Cambridge University Press. p. xix. ISBN 9780521102636. Retrieved 28 December 2015. Khirba(t), meaning 'ruin' (Arabic) 
  2. ^ a b A History of Palestine: From the Ottoman Conquest to the Founding of the State of Israel, Gudrun Kramer and Graham Harman
  3. ^ Means of Expulsion Violence, Harassment and Lawlessness against Palestinians in the Southern Hebron Hills, B'tselem, May 2005 p.9 n.3.
  4. ^ a b Transformation in Arab Settlement, Moshe Brawer, in The Land that Became Israel: Studies in Historical Geography, Ruth Kark (ed), Magnes Press, Jerusalem 1989, p. 174
  5. ^ The Peasantry of Late Ottoman Palestine, James Reilly, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Summer, 1981), pp. 82-97
  6. ^ Rediscovering Palestine: Merchants and peasants in Jabal Nablus, 1700-1900, Beshara Doumani
  7. ^ Politics in Palestine: Arab factionalism and social disintegration, 1939-1948 Issa Khalaf
  8. ^ Shuli Hartman, "Like water for the thirsty…" Renewable Energy Systems in Palestinian Communities in the South Hebron Hills, November 2012, Comet Middle East. "Khirbeh: a small village or hamlet. This is the term applied to the small subsidiary villages of Yatta. Note that this word should not be confused with the similar sounding Hebrew word churbah meaning a ruin (ruins). Ruins are also found within the misfera. A khirbeh might be located near such ruins. But just as well it might be located at a site where there are none."