Tel Be'er Sheva

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Tel Sheva
תל באר שבע
Tel Be'er Sheva Overview 2007041.JPG
Tel Be'er Sheva is located in Israel
Tel Be'er Sheva
Shown within Israel
Location Near Beersheba, Israel
Coordinates 31°14′41″N 34°50′27″E / 31.24472°N 34.84083°E / 31.24472; 34.84083Coordinates: 31°14′41″N 34°50′27″E / 31.24472°N 34.84083°E / 31.24472; 34.84083
Type Settlement
Official name Biblical Tells – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, iv, vi
Designated 2005 (29th session)
Reference no. 1108
State Party Israel
Region Asia-Pacific

Tel Sheva (Hebrew) or Tell es-Seba (Arabic) is an archeological site in southern Israel believed to be the remains of the biblical town of Beersheba.[1] It lies east of the modern city of Beersheba and west of the new Bedouin town of Tel Sheva/Tell as-Sabi. Tel Sheva has been preserved and made accessible to visitors in the Tel Beer Sheva National Park (Hebrew: תל באר שבע‎).[2]


The name is derived from the Hebrew be'er, meaning a well, and sheva, meaning "to swear an oath".


In the Hebrew Bible[edit]

Beersheba is mentioned numerous times in the Tanakh, of which nine times as a means of describing the borders of the Land of Israel, extending "from Dan to Beersheba" (see Judges 20:1, 1 Samuel 3:20, 1 Kings 4:25, 1 Chronicles 21:2, 2 Chronicles 30:5 etc.).[3]


Tel 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.[4] These excavations were directed towards uncovering the Iron Age Israelite city at the site.[3] Excavations were renewed by Prof Herzog between 1993 and 1995 in order to complete the uncovering of the town's water system.[4]

National park; UNESCO recognition[edit]

The site was restored 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 open for visitors under the name Tel Be'er Sheva National Park.[4]

In 2007, Tel 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.[5]

Archaeological finds[edit]

Ancient storehouse

Archeological finds indicate that the tell was inhabited from the Chalcolithic period, around 4000 BC, through to the sixteenth century AD. 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 BC.

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.

Horned altar[edit]

Replica of horned altar

Beersheba is referred to in the Bible as a site of cultic importance. It appears as a sanctified site in the patriarchal stories while the prophet Amos denounces worship at the town (Amos 5:5, 8:14).

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 BC, probably during Sennacherib's campaign against Judah in 701 BC, 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.[3] The altar is currently on display in the Israel Museum, and a replica has been installed at Tel Sheva.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Avraham Negev and Shimon Gibson (2001). Beer Sheba. Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (New York and London: Continuum). p. 73. ISBN 0-8264-1316-1. 
  2. ^ Professor Ze’ev Herzog. "Tel Beer Sheva National Park" (PDF). Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c The Beer-Sheba Negev Expedition. Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology. 1976. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Tel Beer Sheva National Park". Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  5. ^ Israel celebrates 8 new UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Biblical tels constitute 'testimony of universal value,' while Nabataean towns illustrate ancient trade routes

External links[edit]