Tell en-Nasbeh

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Tell en-Nasbeh
תל א-נצבא
Tell en-Nasbeh is located in the West Bank
Tell en-Nasbeh
Shown within the West Bank
Alternative nameMizpeh
LocationWest Bank
RegionJudaean Mountains
Coordinates31°53′06″N 35°12′59″E / 31.885136°N 35.216417°E / 31.885136; 35.216417
PeriodsIron Age II - Byzantine period
Site notes
ArchaeologistsWilliam Badè

Tell en-Nasbeh, likely the biblical city of Mizpah in Benjamin,[1] is a 3.2 hectare (8 acre) tell located on a low plateau 12 kilometers (7.5 mi) northwest of Jerusalem in the West Bank. The site lies adjacent to an ancient roadway connecting Jerusalem with the northern hill country, which is how Tell en-Nasbeh gained importance as Judah's northern border fortress during its prime phase of occupation in the Iron Age (Strata 3A-C; 1000-586 BCE). There are also archaeological remains at the site and in surrounding cave tombs that have been dated to the Early Bronze I (Stratum 5; 3500-3300 BCE), Iron I (Stratum 4; 1200-1000 BCE), Babylonian and Persian (Stratum 2; 586-323 BCE), Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Periods (Stratum 1; 323 BCE-630 CE).

Excavation history[edit]

The site was excavated over 5 seasons between 1926 and 1935 by William Frederic Badè of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. The project was jointly sponsored by the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), and represents one of the earliest scientific excavations in region. After Badè's untimely death in 1936, his colleagues compiled and published a 2-volume final report for the excavation.[2][3]

The original dig records, specifically the stratigraphic evidence, were later re-analyzed and published by Jeffrey R. Zorn of Cornell University.[4] Research of the Tell en-Nasbeh collection continues today, both by staff of the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology at the Pacific School of Religion (formerly the Palestine Institute, then Badè Institute of Biblical Archaeology) and by outside scholars from around the world.[5]

Museum staff are also involved in a huge multi-year project to digitize over 5,800 objects that comprise the Tell en-Nasbeh collection.[5] This project, based in Open Context,[6] is in collaboration with staff of the Alexandria Archive Institute in San Francisco, CA.

Occupational history[edit]

Tell en-Nasbeh was a small village in the Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze I periods. It was then abandoned until the beginning of the Iron Age, around the 10th century BCE, when it became a sizable agricultural village.[7] By Iron Age II (9-8th centuries BCE), it was a walled settlement with a massive city gate, on the frontier between the southern and northern Israelite kingdoms.[1]

After the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BCE, Mizpah became the administrative center (capital) for the district of Binyamin in Judah.[1]

Pottery, coins, and other small finds indicate Tell en-Nasbeh was still occupied by the Hellenistic Period when Judas Maccabeus gathered his army at Mizpah to confront the Seleucid army.[8] Later finds, including a tower, tombs in the extramural cemeteries, and the floor of a Byzantine church near the western cemetery, speak to some occupation in later periods.[7]


  1. ^ a b c "Tell en-Nasbeh: Biblical Mizpah of Benjamin". The College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University.
  2. ^ McCown, C. C. 1947. Tell en-Nasbeh I: Archaeological and Historical Results. Pacific Institute of Pacific School of Religion and American Schools of Oriental Research, Berkeley and New Haven.
  3. ^ Wampler, J. C. 1947. ell en-Nasbeh II: The Pottery. Palestine Institute of Pacific School of Religion and American Schools of Oriental Research, Berkeley and New Haven.
  4. ^ Zorn, J. R. 1993. Tell en Nasbeh: A Re-evaluation of the Architecture and Stratigraphy of the Early Bronze Age, Iron Age and Later Periods. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of California Berkeley.
  5. ^ a b "Tell en-Nasbeh Database". Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology at Pacific School of Religion.
  6. ^ "Tell en-Nasbeh Collection at the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology". Open Context.
  7. ^ a b Zorn, J. R. 1993. 'Tell en-Nasbeh.' Pp. 1098-1102 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, ed. E. Stern. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society & Carta.
  8. ^ "1 Maccabees, Chapter 3".

External Links[edit]