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Remains of Sataf village
Remains of Sataf village
Etymology: from a personal name[1]
Sataf is located in Mandatory Palestine
Coordinates: 31°46′9″N 35°7′38″E / 31.76917°N 35.12722°E / 31.76917; 35.12722Coordinates: 31°46′9″N 35°7′38″E / 31.76917°N 35.12722°E / 31.76917; 35.12722
Palestine grid162/130
Geopolitical entityMandatory Palestine
Date of depopulationJuly 13–14, 1948[4]
 • Total3,775 dunams (3.775 km2 or 1.458 sq mi)
 • Total540[2][3]
Cause(s) of depopulationMilitary assault by Yishuv forces

Sataf (Arabic: صطاف, Hebrew: סטף) was a Palestinian village in the Jerusalem Subdistrict depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It was located 10 km west of Jerusalem, with Sorek Valley (Arabic: Wadi as-Sarar) bordering to the east.

Two springs, Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura flow from the site into the riverbed below.

A monastery located across the valley from Sataf, i.e. south of Wadi as-Sarar, known by local Arabs as Ein el-Habis (the "Spring of the Hermitage"), is officially called Monastery of Saint John in the Wilderness.

Today it is a tourist site showcasing ancient agricultural techniques used in the Jerusalem Mountains.


Chalcolithic period[edit]

Remains of a 4,000 BCE Chalcolithic village were discovered at the site. The related traces of agricultural activities number among the oldest in the region.[5]

Byzantine period[edit]

Most ancient remains date to the Byzantine period.[5]

Mamluk period[edit]

The first written mention of the site is from the Mamluk era.[5]

Ottoman period[edit]

Sataf was noted in the Ottoman tax records of 1525-1526 and 1538-1539, as being located in the Sanjak of Al-Quds.[6] According to archaeological work, the village originated in the late 16th century, with the use of several cave−dwellings. Later, houses were erected in front of the caves.[7]

In 1838 it was described as a Muslim village, located in the Beni Hasan district, west of Jerusalem.[8]

In 1863, Victor Guérin found a village of one hundred and eighty people. He further noted that their houses were standing on the slopes of a mountain, and that the mountainside was covered by successive terraces.[9] An Ottoman village list from about 1870 counted 38 houses and a population of 115, whereby only men were counted.[10][11]

In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine described Setaf as "a village of moderate size, of stone houses, perched on the steep side of a valley. It has a spring lower down, on the north."[12]

In 1896 the population of Sataf was estimated to be about 180 persons.[13]

British Mandate period[edit]

By the 1922 census of Palestine conducted by the British Mandate authorities, Sataf had a population of 329; 321 Muslims and 8 Christians.[14] All the Christians were Roman Catholic.[15] The 1931 census lists 381 inhabitants; 379 Muslim and 2 Christian, in a total of 101 houses.[16]

In the 1945 statistics the population of Sataf was 540, all Muslims,[2] and the total land area was 3,775 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[3] Of this, 928 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 465 for cereals,[17] while 22 dunams were built-up land.[18]

1948, aftermath[edit]

On July 13–14, 1948 the Arab village was depopulated by the Har'el Brigade, during Operation Danny.[19]

Sataf and the surrounding area became part of the newly created State of Israel. A short time after the 1948 War, a small group of Jewish immigrants from North Africa settled for a few months in the village area. Subsequently the IDF's Unit 101 and paratroopers used it for training purposes.[5]

In the 1980s the Jewish National Fund began the restoration of ancient agricultural terraces, and the area around the springs has been turned into a tourist site. A forest around the site was also planted by the Jewish National Fund.[20]

In 1992, Sataf was described as follows: "Many half-destroyed walls still stand, and some still have arched doorways. The walls of a few houses with collapsed roofs are almost intact....The area around the village spring, which is located to the east next to the ruins of a rectangular stone house, has been turned into an Israeli tourist site. A Jewish family has settled on the west side of the village, and have fenced in some of the village area."[19]

Shrine of 'Ubayd[edit]

The shrine (maqam) of 'Ubayd, southwest of the village site, contains a courtyard and three rooms.[7] According to Tawfiq Canaan, Sheikh 'Ubayd "is said to kill any goat or sheep who enters his cave."[21]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 326
  2. ^ a b Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 25
  3. ^ a b c Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 58
  4. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #354. Also gives cause of depopulation
  5. ^ a b c d Adar, Yael. "Ancient Agriculture: Sataf - A Reconstruction". Gems in Israel. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  6. ^ Toledano, 1984, pp. 280, 298. Toledano gives its location as 31°46′20″N 35°07′25″E
  7. ^ a b Petersen, 2001, pp. 274−275
  8. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, Appendix 2, p. 123
  9. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 3-4
  10. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 160 also noted it was located in the Beni Hasan District
  11. ^ Hartmann, 1883, p. 122, noted 40 houses
  12. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 22
  13. ^ Schick, 1896, p. 125
  14. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Jerusalem, p. 14
  15. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XVI, p. 45
  16. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 43
  17. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 104
  18. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 154
  19. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 317
  20. ^ Sataf from the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
  21. ^ Canaan, 1927, p. 96


External links[edit]