Is this Tel Sheva or Tel Beer Sheva? According to our guide, Ofir Jacobson, Tel Be’er Sheva is to be found in the modern, downtown city of Be’er Sheva, buried underneath the Bedouin market, therefore the correct name of the archaeological site near the Bedouin City of Tel Sheva is “Tel Sheva”. Unfortunately the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority thinks otherwise.
Tel Beer Sheva National Park World Heritage Site
Tel Beer Sheva National Park is located east of the modern city of Beer Sheva near the communities of Omer and the Bedouin City of Tel Sheva. The mound represents an urban ruling center from the biblical period in the southern part of the country, where excavations revealed a system of walls and gates along with public and residential buildings, a storehouse, water systems and more. Tel Beer Sheva was declared a national park in 1986, covering a total area of 180 dunams (about 44.5 acres). In 2005, UNESCO listed the biblical tels, including Tel Beer Sheva, as a World Heritage Site.
Remains of early settlement at Tel Beer Sheva attest to its habitation in the fourth millennium BCE (the Chalcolithic period). Finds from this period include sherds, although no architectural remains were found. After a gap of more than 2,000 years, at the end of the second millennium BCE (the Iron Age, also known as the Israelite period) settlement on the mound was renewed. The mound was then continuously occupied for about 500 years. Excavators identified nine strata from this period, representing the stages in the building and destruction of the site.
Archaeologists have uncovered two-thirds of a city dating from the early Israelite period (10th century BCE) at Tel Be’er Sheva in the Negev. The site is of unparalleled importance for the study of biblical-period urban planning, biblical history and its outstanding universal value.
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 ( ancient urban planning) in the region.
Better known as an Israelite pillared building, this typical structure has been found around the country throughout the Iron Age (1200-600 BC).
Subdivided by pillars into smaller rooms, these houses were often built against the city wall, with the house’s back wall forming a portion of the city’s casemate wall.
Stables or Storehouses?
Three tripartite pillared buildings were revealed in the excavations. The archaeologists believe that these are storehouses in part because of the large quantity of vessels found inside.
Other scholars regard this building design as characteristic of stables and overwhelming evidence suggests this is a more accurate identification.
Sandstone blocks integrated into the walls of the storehouses were originally part of a four-horned altar. Three of the sandstone blocks preserved the shape of large horns typical of four-horned altars, while a fourth showed evidence that the horn had been broken off. Another of the stones bore the image of a deeply incised serpent.
Cistern Tunnel Adventure
The site is also noteworthy for its elaborate water system and huge cistern, carved out of the rock beneath the town. You’ll explore the city’s sophisticated water system and see a 70-meter-deep well – the deepest in the Negev. Several ancient buildings have been reconstructed using authentic mud-brick. Don’t forget your helmet!
Well at Gate
Best season: Year-round
Hours: April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M; October-March 8 A.M- 4 P.M.
Entrance fee: NIS 15; child: NIS 7; Israeli senior citizen: 50% discount; Group (over 30 people): Adult: NIS 14: child NIS 6