Selasa, 17 September 2013


Khirbet Beit Lei


Khirbet Beit LeiKhirbet Beit Lehi or Beth Loya is an archaeological tell in the Judean lowlands of Israel. It is located about 5.5 km southeast of Beth Guvrin on a hill 400 m above sea level.

Beit Lehi
בית לחי
Mosaic floor of Byzantine church
Khirbet Beit Lei is located in Israel
Shown within Israel
Alternate nameבית לויה
Coordinates31.563611°N 34.928056°E
Areac.50 Dunams
PeriodsIron Age II - Mameluke period


During the construction of a road in 1961, an ancient burial complex was discovered ten miles west-northwest of Hebron. An archaeological expedition by the Israel Antiquities Authority led by Joseph Naveh of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found a cave consisting of three chambers cut into the chalky limestone. Eight skeletons lay on limestone ledges around the sides of the chambers. A ring, a bronze earring and a bronze plaque were also found in the cave, which contained carved drawings and inscriptions. Three of the drawings were of human figures: a man holding what might be a lyre, a man raising his arms, possibly in a prayer gesture, and a man wearing a headdress. Two sailing vessels were sketched on another wall.[1]


Khirbet Beit Lei was first surveyed by R.A.S. Macalister of the Palestine Exploration Fund, who found a rock-cut chapel and burial caves.[2]
In 1961, two Iron Age II multi-chamber burial caves were excavated by Joseph Navehat in the eastern part of the site. The caves had been unearthed by road construction. One cave contained eight skeletons that had been untouched since being laid to rest. Drawings and inscriptions were carved into the walls of the cave.[3] The other cave had been looted at some point, and analysis revealed that the interred individuals belonged to a group of different origin than the first group. The drawings depicted three human figures, two ships, and two other figures that may be an encampment and a tent. The ships lead scholars to believe that the chambers were reused byIsraelite refugees fleeing the Chaldaean armies in the sixth century BCE, probably Levites. Ships are a common motif in ancient Near Eastern burial chambers.
Between 1972 and 1973, the site was surveyed by Yehuda Dagan.[4] This survey revealed that the site had been settled from the Hellenistic period until at least the Mameluke period. No Iron Age remains were found.[5] A number of hewn subterranean installations, including columbaria, olive presses, water cisterns, quarries, a stable and hideaways are attributed to the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
From 1979 to 1983, Yotam Tepper and Y. Shahar investigated the caves at the site.[6]
In 1983 and 1986 Joseph Patrich and Yoram Tsafrir excavated a basilica church at the site, as well as an olive press, a wine press and a burial cave nearby,[7] on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The church is thought to have been built around the year 500 CE, and to have functioned well into the 8th century. The church complex was thought to be on the outskirts of a village. The mosaic floors of the church reflect iconoclastic activity, and then repair.[8]
The excavations at the site were renewed in 2005 under the direction of the Oren Gutfeld, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.[9]

Hebrew inscriptions

Seven inscriptions in Biblical Hebrew remained in various states of preservation, and there is some disagreement about how they should be read. It appears that the words YHWH (Yahweh) and YRSHLM (Jerusalem) feature in the inscriptions, which Naveh dated to the late 6th century BCE.[3][5]
יהוה אלהי כל הארץ, הרי יהד לו לאלהי ירשלם, המוריה אתה חננת נוה יה יהוה
The reference to Jerusalem is the oldest Hebrew language mention using this spelling.[10]


Khirba is an Arabic term that refers to a secondary or satellite village on the outskirts of an agricultural village.[1] The khirba was used intermittently during the year, primarily during the plowing or harvest seasons.[2]
The term is often misunderstood: It is commonly believed to indicate a  "ruin" or "abandoned village," which is the meaning of the parallel  term in Hebrew.[3] In fact, the term refers to land that was uncultivated or unfit for cultivation, and thus of low value.[1]

File:20100924 st lot03.JPG
Khirbet al-Mukhayyat


Hamlets known as khirba became widespread in Palestine in the early 20th century. They consisted of a few huts on outlying agricultural land that were inhabited on a seasonal basis. A "mother" village in the hills might have a "daughter" village in the plains.[4] From the 1920s onward, many of them developed into independent villages. In cases where the khirba was established very close to the main village, the khirba sometimes became a neighborhood within the village.[2]
As a defense against Bedouin raids, many villagers in Ottoman Palestine built homes in the central hills and descended to the plains seasonally to sow crops and harvest them.[5] The satellite villages they used at these times began to grow as the population drifted westward.[6]

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