Pinsteps. Horbat ‘Alaq: A Journey Through Time from the Bronze Age to the Roman Era
Places to visit in Binyamina-Giv'at Ada. Languages: en

Horbat ‘Alaq, an archaeological site near Mount Carmel in Israel, offers a fascinating glimpse into a long and varied history. The site's strategic location at the top of a hill overlooking the cultivated Hanadiv Valley played a significant role in its historical development. A water cistern and a spring found at the foot of the hill highlight the site's advantageous positioning.

Throughout 20 seasons of excavation, various findings have been uncovered, including artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age. The most impressive findings are from the early Roman period, which include a wall, a tower, and structures for processing agricultural produce. Other findings indicate the existence of a settlement during the Iron, Persian, and Hellenistic periods.

Among the significant discoveries are remains from the Herodian period, including a large palace dating back to the time of Herod (37-4 BCE). This palace was abandoned during the Jewish-Roman War. Other buildings that were part of this impressive site were found on the slope of the hill.

Initially, during the Persian period, Horbat ‘Alaq was a large settlement, which was later partially fortified with a wall and corner towers. This fortification is believed to have been established at the end of the 4th century BCE, either by the Persians against the advancing Macedonians or by the Macedonians themselves after their conquest of the region. However, its use as a fortress was brief. In the Hellenistic period, the fortification system was abandoned, and residential buildings were constructed around and within it.

The site went through further transformations during the early Roman period. Residential complexes were built within the fortification line, leading to a shift in the site's function and importance and a misunderstanding of its historical role and dating.

Excavations have revealed seven archaeological layers, showing that Horbat ‘Alaq is a multi-layered site with human activity dating back to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods. Despite earlier beliefs that the site was predominantly from the early Roman period and destroyed during the Great Revolt, no evidence of such destruction was found. Instead, continuous human presence has been documented, even into the 2nd century CE.

The site's identity and function have been subjects of debate. Initially thought to be a Jewish site and a palatial complex, it now seems more likely to have been a village or agricultural estate during the early Roman period, built upon the ruins of an earlier fortified site.

The architectural features of the fortified complex at Horbat ‘Alaq are similar to those found at nearby sites, suggesting a broader cultural and defensive network in the region, possibly linked to the Phoenician cities, especially Dor. These sites, including Horbat ‘Alaq, might have been part of a defensive system along the southern border of Phoenician influence during that period.

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Evgeny Praisman
Hiking trip to Hotam HaCarmel in Binyamina-Giv'at Ada of Dec 30, 2023

Embark on a captivating hiking adventure through the southern part of Mount Carmel, just a few moments away from the enchanting Ein Zur Spring. This scenic trail offers a convenient and free parking area, making it the perfect starting point for your journey. After your hike, you can relax in the beautiful surroundings of the spring.

In December, you'll be treated to a mesmerizing display of wildflowers, including marigolds, anemones, and cyclamens. As you ascend the cliffs of the mountain, you'll encounter a breathtaking viewpoint where you can take a break and enjoy the splendid vista.

Along the way, you'll discover ancient burial mounds, remnants of early civilizations. Further ahead lies a Roman and Byzantine villa and farm, providing fascinating insights into the region's history.

The trail then winds through the lush Gariga, leading you across the Crocodile River's stream to the main square of Rothschild Park, a popular gathering spot for hikers.

Your journey culminates with a visit to the remarkable ruins of Houri Farm, the ancient Greek fortress of Aleq, the Zur Spring, and the scenic park that surrounds it. This hiking route promises an unforgettable exploration of nature, history, and culture.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
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