Tel Arad National Park

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Tel Arad is one of the most important archaeological sites in Israel, on which were found the remains of a fortified Canaanite city and fortresses from the time of the Kings of Judah

​The fortresses include the remains of a unique Judean temple and an extraordinary water facility from the time of the Kings.

 

 

Points of Interest

Remains of a fortified city from the Early Bronze Age

A water facility, begun in the Canaanite period (Early Bronze Age)

A fortified city from the Israelite period (Iron Age), with a unique temple and remarkable water facility

Concentration of Judean Iris (Iris atrofusca) and loess soil vegetation

 

 

Location in Israel


Tel Arad lies west of the city of Arad.  Access to the site is from Road 80, turning off at the Shoket-Arad junction (Road 31), about 7 kms west of Arad.

 

 

Scenic Observation Points


The tel with its fortresses gives an excellent observation point over the entire area.  At the foot of the tel Canaanite Arad is spread out.  To the south are the ridges of the Northern Negev, in the west the hills/tels of Ira and Anim, in the north are the southern flanks of the Hebron Mountains, and to the east lies the city of Arad.

 

 

Identity


Tel Arad was declared a national park in 1982, covering a declared area of 513 dunams.  The national park was approved for expansion to 1,235 dunams, creating a good expanse for preserving natural values on the loess soil.  (Approval means that the plan is approved in all respects under the Planning and Construction Law, but because the declaration is not yet official, the National Parks Law does not apply to the expansion at this time.)

There is an orderly camping ground in this National Park.

 

 

Reasons for Declaration

  • To preserve one of the most important archaeological sites from the Early Bronze Age and the period of the Judean Kings.
  • Preservation of natural values - fauna and flora on loess soil

     

     


Preservation activity by the Parks and Nature Reserves Authority


  • Archaeological excavations and preservation activities in cooperation with professional entities from the Antiquities Authorities and academic institutions in Israel
  • Preparation of the site for visits by the public
  • Preservation of the Judean temple and the unique water facility
  • Operation of the orderly camping area

     

     

    Particulars of the Points of Interest


     

    The Canaanite City

    Canaanite Arad was a planned city from the beginning of the Canaanite urbanization period.  It is surrounded by a wall and is divided into public buildings and residential areas.  The rich findings discovered in the excavations demonstrate a range of economic resources such as agriculture, non-irrigated farming, grazing, art and trade.  Arad was an urban center for the inhabitants of the region.

    These are the principal sites in the Canaanite city:

    The water reservoir:  the residential homes in the city were built so that the rainwater draining off the slope was collected in a reservoir surrounded by buildings on three sides. The only side of the reservoir left open was the eastern side, where a dam was apparently built that held back the runoff water.  At the center of the reservoir a 16 m. deep well was dug, apparently in the early Israelite period.

    Fortifications:  Canaanite Arad was surrounded by a strong wall, 1,200 m. long, 24 m. thick, which seems to have risen to a height of 5 meters.  Wicket gates were installed in the wall, and towers protruded from it.  The wall generally followed the watershed line on the hill.  At present, it is known that there was one gate in the wall, but there may have been others.

    Residential homes:  The houses in Arad were built uniformly, in a style called the "Arad House" - a broad stone structure, with a floor lower than street level, with one or two steps descending into it.  Stone benches were built along the walls.  At the center of each hall there was a stone base on which stood a wooden pillar to support the flat roof.  Alongside the central hall there were often one or two side rooms, which probably served as storehouse and kitchen.  Only the bases of the walls of the Arad houses have survived, and the complete picture was obtained from a small clay model of a house that was discovered in the excavations.  The model is displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

    "The Palace":  A large complex of many rooms, cubicles and courtyards.  At its center some important findings were exposed, among them a ceremonial stela.  Its location between the western city gate and the water reservoir testifies to its governmental role.

    The Temples:   A complex of buildings close to the Palace, surrounded by a stone wall, containing a pair of large temples, a pair of small temples and a single temple.   Similar temples were found at En Gedi (Chalcolithic period) and at Megiddo (Early Bronze Age).  The temples consist of a broad room with a yard, similar to the "Arad Houses".  Alongside the temples were found stone monuments, altars for sacrifices and ceremonial basins.  The multiplicity of temples may indicate the worship of several gods.

     

    The Tel of Fortresses ​


    The fortress presently on the site is a fortified building (50X50 m.), and it was a link in the series of fortifications of the Judean Kingdom.  In the Kingdom period six fortresses were built in Arad, one on top of the other.  A unique temple and an remarkable water facility were discovered in the fortress. The Nature and Parks Authority has performed preservation and reconstruction works on the temple and has prepared a pathway for visitors leading down into the water facility.

    The Temple:  In the north-western corner of the fortress the remains of a temple were found, apparently Judean, that was in use from the 9th to the end of the 8th century BC, i.e. concurrently with the Temple in Jerusalem.  This is one of the few temples remaining from Biblical times.  The temple in Arad was built according to the plan of the Tabernacle described in the Bible, and consisted of three parts:  the inner courtyard, the temple and the Holy of Holies.

    In the heart of the courtyard there was a square altar, built of small stones, and faced with unchiseled stones.  This altar complies with the Biblical prohibition against building an altar of stones chiseled by means of a metal tool.

    The temple is located to the west of the courtyard.  Three steps lead up from it to the Holy of Holies.  At the sides of the entrance to the Holy of Holies stand two incense altars, and within it there is a monument.  Within the boundaries of the temple were found ostraca (pottery shards bearing inscriptions) on which were written the names of the priestly families mentioned in the Bible (Meramot, Ezra 8:33, and Pashkhur, Jeremiah 100:1).

    The use of the temple appears to have been discontinued in the 8th century BC.   The entire site became covered with dust while the fortress continued to function.  The cause may have been the religious reform by Kings Hezekiah and Josiah who stopped the worship in the outlying cities and concentrated it in Jerusalem.  The altar at Tel Be'er Sheva was also dismantled in that period.  

    The Water Facility:  Located close to the temple, consisting of three excavated and plastered cavities.  The original staircase leading to them survived only partially.  The cavities have been fully exposed and are very impressive.  A channel chiseled out of the rock passes through the western wall and reaches the cavities. 

    Elyashiv House:  Close to the southern wall of the fortress an archive was found,  containing ostraca written mostly in ancient Hebrew script.  17 ostraca were addressed to a person named Elyashiv, apparently the commander of the fortress at Tel Arad.  Three seals bearing his name were found in the house.

     

     

    Night Camping - the Canaanite Khan

    The camping ground provides a closed building with mattresses and heating.  It also contains six accessorized accommodation cabins, a site for private tents and a site for caravans.   There are drinking water and toilets, hot showers, a cooking area, outdoor lighting, electricity points, etc.

     

     

    Geography


    Tel Arad lies at the eastern edge of the Be'er Sheva - Arad basin (a synclinal valley, stretching from Be'er Sheva to Arad).   To the north the valley is bounded by the anticline of the Hebron Hills, and to the south and east it is bounded by the Northern Negev anticlines.    The western end of the valley touches the sandy plains of Haluta and Agur.  A secondary anticline (the hills of Ira) separates the Arad Valley from the Be'er Sheva Valley.

    Tel Arad is located on the national watershed.  Nahal Tse'elim and its tributaries drain the region eastward, to the Dead Sea.  To the west, at the foot of the tel itself, rises Nahal Be'er Sheva, which drains into the Mediterranean Sea.

    The Israel Trail traverses the National Park.

     

    History and Archaeology


    In the Early Canaanite period (Early Bronze Age, 3100-2950 BC), Arad was the only large city in the Negev.  Its residents earned their living from cultivating field crops, such as wheat, barley, peas, chick peas, and sheep breeding.  Another source of meat was hunting.  The residents of the Canaanite city tilled their fields with a harnessed plough and used donkeys for transport.

    The Arad Canaanites traded with other Canaanite cities, and of special economic value was the trade in asphalt, which was harvested from floating lumps in the Dead Sea and was used by the Egyptians for mummification.  Arad also supplied olive oil to Egypt, and received copper in exchange.  Arad may have been part of the "Copper Road", the metal supplied by Egypt to the countries of the Middle East.   Trade with Egypt is evidenced by the Egyptian clay vessels found on the Tel, as well as a broken vessel on which the name of the Egyptian Pharaoh Na'armar was engraved (32nd century BC).

    Caaanite Arad was abandoned in 2600 BC for reasons unknown.  The place remained desolate for about 1,500 years, up to the early Israelite period.   At the beginning of that period, a small settlement was established on top of the hill, at the north-eastern corner of Canaanite Arad, the houses of which were built in a cluster around a central courtyard.  This style of settlement is usually attributed to the Israelite settlement period.  Later, six Israelite fortresses were built on this place, one on top of the other.   The remains of a Hellenistic fortress (4th-1st centuries BC) were also found on this tel.

    Ostraca in a number of languages were discovered in the Arad Fortress:  about 100 in Hebrew, about 85 in Aramaic, and a few in Greek.  17 Hebrew inscriptions were apparently written at the time of King Jehoiakim (608-598 BC).  "The hand of the Babylonians was heavy" on Jehoiakim, and the Edomites, living in the Southern Negev, exploited this situation and moved northwards.

    Ostraca were also found on the tel from the Persian period, evidencing that at that time Arad served both as a military citadel and a way station.

     


Flora and Fauna


Despite its limited area, there are a number of species of rare plants and animals in the Tel Arad National Park.

The Persian lily (Fritillaria persica), growing in the vicinity of nearby Tel Krayot, is at the southernmost distribution boundary of this species.    The Judean Iris (Iris atrofusca), blooming at the end of February and beginning of March, is a species endemic to the loess soil of the Northern Negev, for which Tel Arad constitutes a shelter.

The Be'er Sheva fringe-fingered lizard (Acanthodactylus beershebensis) is a species unique to the loess soil of the Northern Negev.  The greater Egyptian jerboa (Jaculus orientalis) is also found here - a fidgety rodent with a tuft at the end of its tail, which is an endangered species in Israel.

 

​​​How to get there:

At the Tel Arad Junction on Road 31 (Arad - Shoket Junction), turn 2 kms northwards on Road 2808. 


Length of tour:  One-two hours 


Recommended season:​​​​​​  All year Round 

Insist on:​​


View from the top of the tel 

What else is there?


Night camping

Cafeteria

Possibility of holding events

​​​Opening Hours:

Entry into the reserve is closed one hour before closing time:

Summertime:
Sundays thru Thursdays and Saturdays:  8:00 - 17:00
Fridays and eves of religious festivals: 8:00 - 16:00

Wintertime:
Sundays thru Thursdays and Saturdays: 8:00 - 16:00
Fridays and eves of religious festivals: 8:00 - 15:00
On the eves of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Pesach:  8:00 - 13:00

Communication:


Tel: 08-6992444

Price List​​


Individuals:     Child:  NIS 7;  Adult: NIS 14
Groups (over 30 persons):  Children:  NIS 6;  Adults:  NIS 13
Students:  NIS 12
Senior Citizens:  NIS 7

 

 

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    Content under construction, the information apears soon.
    Content under construction, the information apears soon.
    Tel Arad National Park