Tel Arad National Park
Meet Tel Arad National Park
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.
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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
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.
Tel Arad National ParkUseful Information
Entrance to the park closes one hour before cited closing timeSummer hours: Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 17:00 - 08:00 Friday and holiday eves: 16:00 - 08:00 Winter hours: Sunday–Thursday and Saturday: 16:00 - 08:00 Friday and holiday eves: 15:00 - 08:00 Holiday eves: 13:00 - 08:00 Yom Kippur eve: 13:00 - 08:00
At the Tel Arad Junction on Road 31 (Arad – Shoket Junction), turn 2 kms northwards on Road 2808.
Reserving a visit to Tel Arad National Park
|Adult in group||₪ 12.00|
|Child in group||₪ 6.00|
|Israeli senior citizen||₪ 7.00|
|Subscription – adult||₪ 38.00|
|Subscription – child||₪ 32.00|
|Group leaders’ room||₪ 450.00|
|Canaanite structure – adult||₪ 75.00|
|Canaanite structure – child||₪ 65.00|
|Canaanite structure – adult subscription||₪ 53.00|
|Canaanite structure – child subscription||₪ 45.00|
|Canaanite structure – student||₪ 60.00|