Tel Rehov

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Tel Rehov
Ktovet recov AA.jpg
"Mosaic of Rehob" from Khirbet Farwana/Horvat Parva near Tel Rehov
Tel Rehov is located in Israel
Tel Rehov
Shown within Israel
Coordinates 32°27′26″N 35°29′54″E / 32.457125°N 35.498242°E / 32.457125; 35.498242

Rehov (also Rehob), meaning "broad", "wide place",[1] was an important Bronze and Iron Age city located at Tel Rehov (Hebrew: תל רחוב‎‎), an archaeological site in the Jordan Valley, Israel, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Beit She'an and 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the Jordan River.


The site represents one of the largest ancient city mounds in Israel, its surface area comprising 120,000 square metres (1,300,000 sq ft) in size, divided into an "Upper City" (40,000 square metres (430,000 sq ft)) and a "Lower City" (80,000 square metres (860,000 sq ft)). The oldest known archaeological finds relating to beekeeping were discovered at Rehov.[2] Rehov was a joint Israelite-Canaanite city, and had an estimated population of 2,000.


Tel Rehov menorah carving

Archaeological excavations have been conducted at Rehov since 1997 under the directorship of Amihai Mazar, Professor at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and with the primary sponsorship of John Camp.

Iron Age II levels of the site have emerged as a vitally important component in the current debate regarding the chronology of the United Monarchy of Israel. Important data has also been forthcoming regarding the Early Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age and medieval occupation of the site.

In 2013, the team reported the discovery of a building that might have been the house of Elisha the prophet.[3]

Ancient beehives[edit]

In September 2007 it was reported that 30 intact beehives and the remains of 100-200 more dated to the mid-10th century BCE to the early 9th century BCE were found by archaeologists in the ruins of Rehov.[4] The beehives were evidence of an advanced honey-producing beekeeping (apiculture) industry 3000 years ago in the city, then thought to have a population of about 2000 residents at that time, both Israelite and Canaanite. The beehives, made of straw and unbaked clay, were found in orderly rows of 100 hives.[5] Previously, references to honey in ancient texts of the region (such as the phrase "land of milk and honey" in the Hebrew Bible) were thought to refer only to honey derived from dates and figs; the discoveries show evidence of commercial production of bee honey and beeswax.

In addition to beehives, the remains of bees and bee larvae and pupae were also found. In 2010, using DNA from the remains of bees found at the site, researchers identified the bees as a subspecies, similar to the Anatolian bee, found now only in Turkey. It is possible that the bees' range has changed, but more likely that the inhabitants of Tel Rehov imported bees because they were less aggressive than the local bees and provided a better honey yield (three to eight times higher than Israel’s native bees).[6]

Supporting archaeological knowledge include evidence of other imports in Rehov from eastern Mediterranean lands; later Egyptian documentation of transferring bees in large pottery vases or portable beehives; and an Assyrian stele from the 8th century BCE that evidences that bees had been brought from the Taurus Mountains of southern Turkey to the land of Suhu - about the same distance as between the Taurus and Rehov (400 kilometres (250 mi)).[6][7]

The beehives were dated by carbon-14 radiocarbon dating at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, using organic material (wheat found next to the beehives).

Ezra Marcus of the University of Haifa, said the finding was a glimpse of ancient beekeeping seen in Near Eastern texts and ancient art. Religious practice was evidenced by an altar decorated with fertility figurines found alongside the hives.[8][9][10]

Ancient synagogue[edit]

Along with the remains of an ancient synagogue, the archaeologists found a seventh-century inscription, part of a mosaic pavement, that contains details of Jewish religious laws concerning tithes and the Sabbatical Year.[11] It was discovered on the lands of Kibbutz Ein HaNetziv.


  1. ^ Avraham Negev; Shimon Gibson (July 2005). Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 434. ISBN 978-0-8264-8571-7. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Oldest known archaeological example of beekeeping discovered in Israel
  3. ^ Tel Rehov House Associated with the Biblical Prophet Elisha
  4. ^ Friedman, Matti (September 4, 2007), "Israeli archaeologists find 3,000-year-old beehives" in USA Today, Retrieved 2010-01-04
  5. ^ Mazar, Amihai and Panitz-Cohen, Nava, (December 2007) It Is the Land of Honey: Beekeeping at Tel Rehov Near Eastern Archaeology, Volume 70, Number 4, ISSN 1094-2076
  6. ^ a b Bloch, Guy; et al. (June 2010). "Industrial apiculture in the Jordan valley during Biblical times with Anatolian honeybees". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (25): 11240–11244. PMC 2895135Freely accessible. PMID 20534519. doi:10.1073/pnas.1003265107. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  7. ^ SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH, JUDY (2010-06-24). "Biblical buzz". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  8. ^ Friedman, Matti. "Archaeologists Discover Ancient Beehives." Associated Press. 7 September 2007.
  9. ^ "Hebrew University excavations reveal first Biblical period beehives in 'Land of Milk and Honey'". Beth-Shean Valley Archaeological Project Tel Rehov Excavations. Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology. September 2, 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-04-19. 
  10. ^ "Tel Rehov Reveals the First Beehives in Ancient Near East." 4 September 2007. [1]
  11. ^ The permitted villages of Sebaste in the Rehov Mosaic

External links[edit]