Tel Burna


From the barren hills of Hebron a valley runs towards the west through forested hillsides – Nahal Guvrin. Fields of wheat hug the wadi that curves across the valley floor. Past a Roman amphitheatre and the ruins of a Crusader church, past a petrol station and kibbutz, the valley opens up and provides pasture now just as in ancient time. And beside the stream rises a tell. It seems symetrical from the south-east – nearly like a hat. Or that is what the Arabs thought, for they named the hill Tell Bornat – the tell of the hat (Tel Burna in Hebrew). The trowels and spades of archaeologists had not yet touched this tell. It still held its secrets. But all that has changed in 2010. For that summer, excavations have begun. And I was there when the first square was opened, the pickaxes first broke the ground. I was there as first theories of its significance were expounded and discarded, as we hope for that one find that will explain it all.

Since then, several excavation seasons have uncovered a wealth of material at Tel Burna. Casemate walls, storage pits, pottery from the Bronze and Iron Ages, ovens. It’s all there. In the ridges nearby the team has found wine presses and other agricultural installations. For an update on progress and further excavation plans, go to the blog of the Tel Burna Excavation Project.

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