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Tel Beit-Shemesh

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Tel Beit-Shemesh

PikiWiki Israel 9766 old bet shemesh.jpg

Basic Information

Location 31°45′02″N 34°58′29″E
Phone number 08-8502240
Country Israel
City Jerusalem

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website http://www.goisrael.gov.il/tourism_heb2/attractions/Attractions/Pages/tel%20bet%20shemesh.aspx?NRMODE=Unpublished
Geographical Coordinates 31.74984,34.97614


Tel Beit-Shemesh is located west of the city Beit Shemesh, next to highway 38.

The ancient city of Beit Shemesh ("house of the sun" or "temple of the sun" in Hebrew) was originally named after the Canaanite sun-goddess Shemesh, who was worshipped there in antiquity. The ruins of the ancient biblical city can still be seen in the tell of Beit Shemesh, located near the modern city.

Several important and unique archaeological discoveries have been made in recent digs at the tel. The most ancient iron workshop in the world was discovered here in 2003. The only remnants of a fortified city with an advanced water system, from the time of the early Kingdom of Judah was found here. The bones of animals found in the 12th-11th centuries BCE layer indicate a diet typical of the Israelites who inhabited the hill country in this period. These together with the pottery finds indicate the cultural influences on the inhabitants of this border town. However, it is not possible to determine their specific ethnic identity, which could be Canaanite, Philistine or Israelite. During the destruction of Judea by the Babylonians, the waterworks of Beit Shemesh were sealed and covered, and were not uncovered until 2004. Thus during the first Jewish return, known as the Second Temple period, there was no revival of the city, as opposed to many other places in the vicinity such as Beit Guvrin, Maresha, and others. Consequently, the small towns of Dayr Raban and Dayr Rafat had used secondary rocks for building, from this very ancient source. Also found nearby is a prehistoric Megalith circle, probably the structure responsible for the name Beit Shemesh. A monastery and other remains from the Byzantine period have been found. In the late 19th century, the site was used as a temporary harvest time residence by local Arabs. A small mosque of Abu Mizar was there.

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