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Avshalom Cave Nature Reserve *

Stalactite Formation in Avshalom Cave Photo: Sir_Joseph

Avshalom Cave also known as Soreq Cave – مغارة سوريك‎ or Me’arat HaNetifim, is a 5,000 m2 cave on the western side of Mt. Ye’ela, in the Judean hills in Israel, unique for its dense concentration of stalactites and other cave formations. Humidity in the cave is between 92%-100%. The cave is 82 meters long and 62 meters wide.

Located between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, the caves are a great place to spend a morning or an afternoon with your family. Wear good shoes with traction because it can get quite slippery. There are guard rails throughout and the path is lighted.

Sign at entrance to the cave.
Public Domain
Cave entrance
Photo: deror_avi

Observation Area Inside the Cave – at the front of the cave there is an observation area providing an overall view of the vast cavern. The raised platform gives a panoramic view of the variety of shapes of the stalagmites and stalactites and the special artificial lighting illuminating parts of the cave in lively colors.

Avshalom Cave (Sorek Cave) – Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve
Photo: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman 

Spectacular Stalactite and Stalagmite Shapes – the cave is full of stalactites and stalagmites, the “pillar”, the “elephant’s ears”, the “sculptures garden”, the “macaroni field”, “Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs”,and of course “Romeo and Juliette”.

Avshalom Cave (Sorek Cave) – Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve
Photo: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman 

Mount Yeela

Har Yeela (הר יעלה) is a mountain in the district of Jerusalem , in the central part of the country. The peak of Har Ye’ela is 329 meters above sea level. The highest point nearby is 691 meters above sea level, 1.0 km east of Har Ya’ala. The terrain around Har Ya’ala is mainly hilly, but to the southwest it is flat. The surrounding area of ​​Har Ya’ala is essentially an open bush landscape . Soreq Cave is found on the north-west side of Mount Ya’ala. After the War of Independence there was a village called Yaala for several years but was deserted.

Photo: יגאל דקל 
Avshalom Cave (Sorek Cave) – Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve
Photo: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman 

How was the cave discovered?

The cave was discovered accidentally in May 1968, while quarrying with explosives in the Har-Tuv Quarry.

The cave has been the focus of paleoclimate research, which allowed reconstruction of the region’s semi-arid climate for the past 185,000 years. According to the American geologist James Aronson, the Soreq Cave Nature Reserve is the Rosetta stone of climate history in the Eastern Mediterranean. The temperature and the humidity in the cave are constant year round.

Who is the cave named after?

The Avshalom Cave is named after Avshalom Shoham, an Israeli soldier killed in the War of Attrition. Shoham was very severely injured during his army service in the elite Sayeret Shaked unit. He fought for three years to recover, but on February 4, 1974, he passed away. 

רב טוראי אבשלום שוהם
Avshalom Cave (Sorek Cave) – Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve
Photo: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman 

Stalactites and Stalagmites

stalactite is an icicle-shaped formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave and is produced by precipitation of minerals from water dripping through the cave ceiling. Most stalactites have pointed tips.

Some of the stalactites found in the Avshalom Cave are four meters long, and some have been dated as 300,000 years old. Other stalactites were dated about 5 million years old. The cave is approximately 8-25 million years old and the rocks are approximately 80-100 millions years old. 

stalagmite is a type of rock formation that rises from the floor of a cave due to the accumulation of material deposited on the floor from ceiling drippings.

A stalactite cave is the result of the dissolution and sedimentation of rock. But can rock dissolve? It sounds amazing. But the stalactite cave is located in the midst of layers of dolomite rock. Rainwater that comes into contact with carbon dioxide (CO2) creates a weak acid capable of dissolving dolomite. Most of the CO2  gets to the water through the soil in which it is found in large concentrations. This process takes thousands of years.

Some stalactites in the Avshalom Cave meet stalagmites to form stone pillars.

Stalactite meeting stalagmite to form a pillar.
זקיף ונטיף 
Photo: user:תומר א. 
Stalactites in the Soreq cave.
Photo: Юкатан –
Avshalom Cave (Sorek Cave) – Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve Panorama
Photo: Ricardo Tulio Gandelman 

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