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Friday, March 31, 2006

Photo Friday (Vol. LXI) [unknown ruins edition]

One of the problems that occurs nearly every time any sort of construction, landscaping or roadwork is done in this country is that they uncover ancient ruins... sometimes several sets of ruins from different periods. 

What happens then is a government archaeologist is sent out to do a quick survey and determine if it is significant enough to warrant a full excavation.  A tent is set up over the site and the area is uncovered methodically and anything found is identified, dated and documented.

Obviously whatever project initially uncovered the ruins is halted while the archaeological work is going on so the team has to quickly determine if the find should be uncovered and left in place... uncovered and moved to a different place for viewing... or documented in situ and then recovered with the initial project.

One such site that seems to have gone with option number 2 is lacated about 10 minutes south of where I live. 

During the early days of the Intifada a decision was made to build a bypass road around several Arab villages where Israeli cars had come under attack and to widen some existing stretches of road in between these villages.  In the course of this roadwork just north of Kiryat Arba some ruins were uncovered and a full excavation/study was conducted.   

When they were done the roadwork continued - albeit next to the site - and the ruins were left uncovered for anyone to see.  I'm not sure if it was the urgency of the Intifada or that the location was right next to an Arab village, but the site was never publicized and no signage was ever erected to explain anything about the site.

For about a year now I have wanted to stop and take photos but I never seemed to get around to it because it had to be on a day when I was traveling mid-day (something that rarely happens) AND on which I would have someone with me who was armed and could stand guard while I turned my attention to the site.

A couple of weeks ago such a confluence of events took place, so here's what the place looks like:

The outer walls of the building complex are clearly defined in this picture.  You can also see the close proximity of the village in the background.

Here is part of the interior of the ruins with the stone paving clearly visible:
One of the details that always catches my eye in places like this is how the doorways and passages between buildings are formed:

Inside the ruin you can clearly see how the rooms were set up:
Another neat feature inside the ruins is what appears to be the base of a press or grinding stone:

And perhaps the most fascinating aspect of these ruins is that they all seem to be built atop underground passages/caves.  I really need to start keeping my climbing harness, ropes and a flashlight in the car:

That's it for today... Sh219_22_9abbat Shalom.

Posted by David Bogner on March 31, 2006 | Permalink


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Your pictures are wonderful. One day I hope to visit and perhaps live in Israel. Your comment about needed an armed guard while you're taking pictures hit home.

It's hard to imagine that the simple act of taking pictures could endanger your life.

Shalom Shabbat!

Posted by: seawitch | Mar 31, 2006 4:57:43 PM

Great photos David, (Israel, So near yet so far!)

Posted by: kakarizz | Mar 31, 2006 5:29:05 PM

Seawitch... I hope you do come... to visit or to live. It is a wonderful place. I almost deleted the aside about needing to having someone armed with me because I was afraid it would give the wrong impression to people. First of all, while I know that most Palestinians probably look at me with something between distaste and hate, I'm pretty sure that the overwhelming majority of them wouldn't hurt me. But there have been incidents and I don't like to take chances. I'm always armed when I'm out and about... but when exploring in an isolated place so close to an Arab village, it pays to have someone watching your back. School trips in Israel all have armed guards for the same reason; They don't really expect trouble but they don't like to leave things to chance either.

Kakarizz... Thanks, glad you enjoyed them.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 31, 2006 5:47:37 PM

So neat. The doorways always get me too. Usually it's the amazing arches that seem to remain standing from sheer force of will. But that one - you wonder how they got that ginormous rock up there so perfectly. It must be at least a ton, right?

The grinding stone and passageways are awesome too. As always, I'm *so* jealous.

Posted by: Tanya | Mar 31, 2006 5:49:20 PM

It's so awesome to see all these ruins, thanks for sharing and explaining the background information. I can understand, though, that when you live in a place where they are always around and constantly being uncovered it can become a nuisance.

We experience that kind of attitude a lot when we were in Greece, Italy and Spain.
(Not that you feel that way - I sense you are quite adventurous and curious about these amazing finds.)

Posted by: jaime | Mar 31, 2006 6:04:13 PM

Wow- thanks for those pics, David! Fascinating! I would love to come to Israel- the history there must be overwhelming at times! One thing, though- David. I can't really tell the dimensions too well- how tall is that doorway? Were the people shorter back then or did they always just stoop through doorways or were there just not enough rocks of stone to waste building a doorway? Just curious...

Posted by: Regina Clare Jane | Mar 31, 2006 7:08:15 PM


Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Mar 31, 2006 7:11:10 PM

The grinding stone was the coolest thing. I wonder how much more personal stuff you could find if you just dig dip enough... Are they ever going back to finish the excavation?

Posted by: Irina | Apr 1, 2006 9:28:44 AM

Thanks for posting the gorgeous photos! I lived in Efrat with my family when we first made aliya, and one of the things I loved about the area was how I felt that I as truly living in the land of my fathers. I loved being able to drive past valleys where battles had been fought, tents pitched and lives built. I loved driving by yishuvim with names dating back to the Torah. Like you said, it's not often that one can safely stop their car and get out in that area, and I so appreaciate the glimpse. This is why I love living here!!! Shavua tov...

Posted by: Aliza | Apr 1, 2006 8:17:33 PM

Tanya... I was totally thinking of you when I saw the whole leading down into the ground and I realized I didn't have my climbing gear or headlamp AGAIN! :-)

Jaime... I may become jaded in time, but for now I am totally gaga over ruins (like you couldn't tell).

Regina Clare Jane... I'm 6'2 and had to stoop to go through the doorway. I'm assuming that either it was a secondary entrance to the dwelling or the people were indeed shorter.

Steg... That's what I love about you; your ability to cut right to the chase. :-)

Irina... I remember when I was a kid in upstate NY we used to dig for arrowheads (never did find any). The neat thing for my kids is they really have a pretty good chance of stumbling upon something of huge historical significance on every hike they take.

Aliza... Glad you liked the photos. I also like to imagine the simple everyday lives lived in such places and not necessarily the historic events.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Apr 2, 2006 1:48:54 PM

Just wanted to comment on the 3rd of the pictures posted...

Having seen and studied similar ancient doorways/passages throughout Israel, I wondered if you knew the reason why there is a mini-lintel (the stone) at the bottom of the opening?

In brief, at the ancient village of Ein gedi it indicated that the village was purpose-built by ancient jews, according to the mishnaic laws of travelling on shabbat. Having a stone at the bottom of the doorway as well made it into a "window" which had some significance according to the mishna (I'm really sorry but can't find the reference at the moment).

Interesting though.

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