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Basic Information

Location 31° 5′ 49.2″ N, 34° 39′ 7.2″ E
Country Israel
City Haluza

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates 31.08279,34.6869


Haluza (Hebrew: חלוצה‎), also known as Halasa, Chellous (Χελλοὺς in greek), al-Khalasa and Elusa, is a city in the Negev, Israel, that was once part of the Nabataean Incense Route. Due to this historic importance, UNESCO have granted four cities in the Negev the joint status of a World Heritage Site; Haluza is one of these, the others being Mamshit, Avdat, Shivta. The city is one of the two main potential locations for the Biblical city of Ziklag, Ziklag being considered in this case a corruption of Halusah, meaning fortress.

The ruins of the city are at al-Khalasa (Khalasah), about nineteen miles southwest of Beersheba, in a large plain within modern Israel. Many inscriptions have been found there. In the vicinity, according to the Targums, was the desert of Sur with the well, at which the angel found Hagar (Genesis 16:7). (See Revue Biblique, 1906, 597).

Archaeological surveys of the area are partly hampered by the presence of shifting sands around the city, though Nabataean era streets have been found, along with two churches, a theatre, winepress, and tower. Unlike the other cities on the Incense route, Haluza has been excavated without sufficient care to return stones to their original places, compromising future excavation, and the site is generally badly looked after.

History and time period

The city is mentioned under the name 'Chellous' (Χελλοὺς) in the Greek text of Judith, i,9. It is also mentioned by Ptolemy as being in Idumaea, Peutinger's Table, Stephanus Byzantius (as being formerly in the province of Arabia Petraea, now in Palaestina Tertia), Jerome, the pilgrim Theodosius, Antoninus of Piacenza, and Joannes Moschus.

Jerome's life of St. Hilarion says that, in the fourth century, there was at Elusa a great temple of Aphrodite.

Ecclesiastical history

Hilarion is supposed to have introduced Christianity to Elusa in the fourth century.

Early in the following century, a Bishop of Elusa, after redeeming the son of Nilus of Sinai, who had been carried off from Mount Sinai by the Arabs, ordained both him and his father. Other bishops known are Theodulus: 431, Aretas: 451, Peter: 518 and Zenobius: 536.

Elusa remains a Roman Catholic titular see in the ecclesiastical province of Palaestina Tertia, suffragan of the Archbishopric of Petra.


Incense Route - Desert Cities in the Negev (Haluza, Mamshit, Avdat and Shivta)

UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Time period

Biblical times