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Remains of Sataf village
Sataf is located in Mandatory Palestine
Arabic صطاف
Name meaning from a personal name[1]
Subdistrict Jerusalem
Coordinates 31°46′8.76″N 35°7′38.28″E / 31.7691000°N 35.1273000°E / 31.7691000; 35.1273000Coordinates: 31°46′8.76″N 35°7′38.28″E / 31.7691000°N 35.1273000°E / 31.7691000; 35.1273000
Palestine grid 162/130
Population 540 (1945)
Area 3,775 dunams
Date of depopulation July 13–14, 1948[2]
Cause(s) of depopulation Military assault by Yishuv forces

Sataf (Arabic: صطاف, Hebrew: סטף) is a tourist site showcasing ancient agricultural techniques used in the Jerusalem Mountains. Before 1948 it was a Palestinian Arab village in the Jerusalem Subdistrict depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It is 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 St. John in the Wilderness.


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.[3]

Byzantine period[edit]

Most ancient remains date to the Byzantine period.[3]

Mamluk period[edit]

The first written mention of the site is from the Mamluk era.[3]

Ottoman period[edit]

In the late Ottoman period, in 1863, Victor Guérin described 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.[4] An Ottoman village list from about 1870 counted 38 houses and a population of 115, whereby only men were counted.[5]

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."[6]

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.[7] All the Christians were Roman Catholic.[8] The 1931 census lists 381 inhabitants; 379 Muslim and 2 Christian, in a total of 101 houses.[9]

In 1945 the population of Sataf was 540, all Muslims,[10] and the total land area was 3,775 dunams, according to an official land and population survey.[11] Of this, 928 dunams were plantations and irrigable land, 465 for cereals,[12] while 22 dunams were built-up land.[13]

1948 War and aftermath[edit]

On July 13–14, 1948 the Arab village was depopulated by the Har'el Brigade, during Operation Dani.[14] 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.[3] 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.[15]

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."[14]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 326
  2. ^ Morris, 2004, p. xx, village #354. Also gives cause of depopulation
  3. ^ a b c d Ancient Agriculture: Sataf - A Reconstruction
  4. ^ Guérin, 1869, pp. 3-4
  5. ^ Socin, 1879, p. 160
  6. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 22
  7. ^ Barron, 1923, Table VII, Sub-district of Jerusalem, p. 14
  8. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XVI, p. 45
  9. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 43
  10. ^ Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 25
  11. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 58
  12. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 104
  13. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 154
  14. ^ a b Khalidi, 1992, p. 317
  15. ^ Sataf from the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center


External links[edit]