Tel Beer Sheva is an archaeological mound east of the modern city of Beersheba in southern Israel. It was here that the Jewish forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob once lived. This biblical site is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site together with the tels (archaeological mounds) of Megiddo and Hazor. The sites represent biblical cities of the Israelites and Canaanites.
History of Tel Beer Sheva
There is evidence of a settlement at Tel Beer Sheva as early as the 4th millennium BC. 2000 years later, an Iron Age settlement was established by the Israelites who remained at the site for the next 500 years. Archaeological remains from this era include storage pits and stone houses.
A new settlement was established here in the 10th-century BC with a community of about 20 households. As part of the Kingdom of Judah(9th-century BC), the settlement grew to be a fortified city surrounded by a 4m-wide wall and with an impressive water system.
The city incurred damage from an earthquake and was rebuilt in the 8th-century BC only to be destroyed in 701 BC by invading Assyrians. The city lay in ruins until the Persian period when a fortress and granary were built for soldiers posted here. During the 1st-century AD Herodian period, the fortress was enlarged and a Roman bathhouse was added. The area remained sparsely populated for hundreds of years.
The site was used by the Ottomans during World War I as a gathering point for troops set to attack the Suez Canal. In 1917, at the end of WWI, the site was captured by Australian and New Zealand troops en route to Beer Sheva. After extensive excavation and restoration, the site was opened to the public as a national park in the 1990s.
Highlights of Tel Beer Sheva National Park
Lookout Point: A lookout platform has been constructed on top of the tel which has an elevation of 307m. From here there are views across the archaeological site, and the surrounding cities. Thanks to the height of the tel, the views are magnificent.
8th-century BC Altar: See a reconstructed ancient altar that was dismantled during religious reforms implemented by Hizkiyah, King of Judah. The original altar is now on display in the Israel Museum.
Well: Tel Beer Sheva has the deepest well in Israel. The ancient well was dug 69-meters down to the level of groundwater outside the city gate.
City Gate: An outer gate and main gate can be seen, although the gate watchtowers have not survived.
Palace: See the remains of the governor’s palace with an entrance corridor, ceremonial halls, living quarters, kitchen, and storeroom.
Storehouse: Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a 600m² storehouse divided into halls and containing pottery vessels.
Ancient Water System: The city had a comprehensive system for bringing water from the Hermon Stream to the city. A 20m-deep shaft was dug deep into the ground. Stairs carved out of the shaft wall allowed residents to descend to a 700m² reservoir cut out of chalk rock. A channel brought water from the floodwaters of the Hermon Stream to the reservoir.