Tel Arad

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Tel Arad
תל ערד
Tel arad fortress.JPG
Aerial view of the Israelite fortress
Tel Arad is located in Israel
Tel Arad
Shown within Israel
Location Israel
Coordinates31°16′52″N 35°7′34″E / 31.28111°N 35.12611°E / 31.28111; 35.12611
Site notes
ArchaeologistsYohanan Aharoni, Ruth Amiran
Public accessNational Park

Tel Arad (Hebrew: תל ערד), in Arabic Tell 'Arad (تل عراد), is an archaeological tell, or mound, located west of the Dead Sea, about 10 kilometres (6 miles) west of the modern Israeli city of Arad in an area surrounded by mountain ridges which is known as the Arad Plain. The site is divided into a lower city and an upper section on a hill.

The lower Canaanite settlement and the upper Israelite citadel are now part of the Tel Arad National Park, which has begun projects to restore the walls of the upper and lower sites.

Proposed identification[edit]

It was first identified in modern literature in 1841 by Edward Robinson in his Biblical Researches in Palestine, on account of the similarity of the Arabic place name, Tell 'Arad, with the Harad in the Book of Joshua.[1][2]


Tell Arad in the PEF Survey of Palestine, 1880

The upper and lower areas of Tel Arad were excavated during 18 seasons by Ruth Amiran and Yohanan Aharoni between 1962 and 1984.[3][4]An additional 8 seasons were done on the Iron Age water system.[5]



The lower area was first settled during the Chalcolithic period, around 4000 BCE. [6][7]

Early Bronze Age: Canaanite settlements[edit]

Ceramic model of a house of the "Arad house" type, Tel Arad, c. 3,000-2,650 BCE. Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

In the Early Bronze, Tel Arad was occupied in the Early Bronze I-II and took part in the Beersheba Valley copper trade.

The Early Bronze I saw Tel Arad Stratum III.

The Early Bronze II saw rich remains at Tel Arad Stratum II.[8] [9]

It was abandoned in the EB III with the rise of central trading sites in the Negev Highlands related to the copper industry in the Arabah and trade towards Egypt in the Old Kingdom.[10]

Iron Age: Israelite settlement[edit]

Holy of holies of temple, with two incense pillars and two stele, one dedicated to Yahweh, and one most likely to Asherah

The site was only resettled by Israelites from the 11th century BCE onwards,[11] initially as an unwalled area defined as an official or sacred domain was established on the upper hill, and then later as a garrison-town or citadel.[citation needed]

Israelite fort ostraca[edit]

In the 3rd season of excavation, over 100 ostraca (inscribed pottery shards) written in Hebrew, dated to the 7th century BC were found in stratum VI of the fort at Arad.[12][13] Most of these consist of everyday military correspondence between the commanders of the fort and are addressed to Eliashib, thought to be the fort's quartermaster.[14] One ostracon mentions "house of YHWH" which some scholars believe is a reference to the Jerusalem temple.[15] With them was found a partial, hieratic ostracon, similarly dated. The supplies listed included south-Egyptian barley and animal fats (vs the wheat and olive oil in the Hebrew ostraca).[16] Later an ostracon was found with text in both hieratic and Hebrew-Phoenician signary, both not a bilingual text.[17]

Israelite temple[edit]

Stratum X gate of Arad Fortress

The temple at Arad was uncovered by archaeologist Yohanan Aharoni in 1962 who spent the rest of his life investigating it, dying there in the mid-1970s.

In the holy of holies of this temple two incense altars and two possible stele or standing stones[dubious ] were found. Unidentified dark material preserved on their upper surfaces was submitted for organic residue analysis and traces of cannabinoids, cannabis, boswellic acid, and norursatriene[dubious ] (which derives from frankincense) were detected. While the use of frankincense for cultic purposes is well-known, this finding is of especial importance insofar as it represents the "first known evidence of hallucinogenic substance found in the Kingdom of Judah."[18]

Hellenistic and Roman periods[edit]

It is believed that several citadels were built one upon the other and existed in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Herod even reconstructed the lower city for the purpose of making bread.[dubious ] The site lasted until the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt 135 CE.

Muslim conquest to Abbasid period[edit]

Tel Arad lay in ruins for 500 years until the Early Islamic period, when the former Roman citadel was rebuilt and remodeled by some prosperous clan in the area and functioned for 200 years until around 861, when there was a breakdown of central authority and a period of widespread rebellion and unrest. The citadel was destroyed and no more structures were built on the site.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edward Robinson; Eli Smith (1841). Biblical Researches in Palestine. Crocker & Brewster. pp. 473–. See also Tell Arad in Robinson's name list
  2. ^ Charles William Meredith van de Velde (1854). Narrative of a Journey Through Syria and Palestine in 1851 and 1852. W. Blackwood and Sons. pp. 84–.
  3. ^ Yohanan Aharoni and Ruth Amiran, "Excavations at Tel Arad: Preliminary Report on the First Season, 1962", Israel Exploration Journal, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 131-147, 1964
  4. ^ Aharoni, Y. "Excavations at Tel Arad: Preliminary Report on the Second Season, 1963." Israel Exploration Journal, vol. 17, no. 4, 1967, pp. 233–49
  5. ^ Talis, Svetlana. "Tel ‘Arad: Final Report." Hadashot Arkheologiyot: Excavations and Surveys in Israel, vol. 127, 2015
  6. ^ Ruth Amiran et al., "Early Arad : the Chalcolithic settlement and Early Bronze city. Volume 1, First-fifth seasons of excavations, 1962-1966", Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1978
  7. ^ Ruth Amiran et al., "Early Arad, The Chalcolithic and Early Bronze IB Settlements and the Early Bronze II City: Architecture and Planning, Volume II: Sixth to Eighteenth Seasons of Excavations, 1971-1978, 1980-1984", Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1996, ISBN 978-9652210319
  8. ^ Johanna Regev, Sarit Paz, Raphael Greenberg, Elisabetta Boaretto (2019). "Radiocarbon chronology of the EB I–II and II–III transitions at Tel Bet Yerah, and its implications for the nature of social change in the southern Levant." Levant 51:1, pages 54-75.
  9. ^ Israel Finkelstein, Matthew J. Adams, Zachary C. Dunseth, Ruth Shahack-Gross (2018). "The Archaeology and History of the Negev and Neighbouring Areas in the Third Millennium BCE: A New Paradigm." Tel Aviv 45:1, pp. 63-88, DOI: 10.1080/03344355.2018.1412054.
  10. ^ Finkelstein et al. (2018). pp. 63-88.
  11. ^ Herzog, Ze'ev; Aharoni, Miriam; Rainey, Anson F.; Moshkovitz, Shmuel (1984). "The Israelite Fortress at Arad". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (254, Spring 1984): 1–34. doi:10.2307/1357030. JSTOR 1357030. S2CID 201427922.
  12. ^ Yohanan Aharoni, "Hebrew Ostraca from Tel Arad", Israel Exploration Journal vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 1-7, 1966
  13. ^ Pike 2020, p. 203.
  14. ^ Kershner 2017.
  15. ^ Pike 2020, p. 205; King & Stager 2001, p. 314; Dever 2001, p. 212
  16. ^ Yeivin, S. (1966). "A Hieratic Ostracon from Tel Arad". Israel Exploration Journal, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 153–59.
  17. ^ Yeivin, S. (1969). "An Ostracon from Tel Arad Exhibiting a Combination of Two Scripts". The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 55, pp. 98–102.
  18. ^ Arie, Eran; Rosen, Baruch; Namdar, Dvory (28 May 2020). "Cannabis and Frankincense at the Judahite Shrine of Arad". Tel Aviv. Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. 47: 5–28. doi:10.1080/03344355.2020.1732046. S2CID 219763262.


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