Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tel Yavne

Years ago when I was at school we were taught about a vineyard in Yavne where the Sahedrin sat and judged Israel. So I have been wanting to check out Tel Yavne for a while. I set out on my own this morning and went to have a look.

This tower can be seen clearly from route 42 as you drive past Yavne itself. I am not really sure what it is and I will have to spend more time looking it up. Google maps seems to think it's a part of a Crusader castle, but my encyclopedia points to its being part of a mosque that was built over a church. I could find no map of the site so I'm really not sure. There is restoration work being done on it and it sticks out like a sore thumb on the skyline as you drive past.
Yavne was quite the town in antiquity. According to legend, Rab Yohanan Ben Zakkai persuaded Vespasian to leave Yanve and its sages alone, after the destruction of the second temple. So it became the seat of the Sanhedrin and the origin of rabbinic Judaism (and the birthplace of the Mishnah). After the second Jewish revolt (130-135 CE) the Sanhedrin moved to the Galilee and that was the end of Yavne's claim to fame.
Apparently, Yavne has not been seriously excavated, which is strange considering its prominence in Jewish history. I see that "Foundation Stone" started a dig in 2008 and there is word on the web that Tel Yavne is going to be turned into a "Jewish theme park" in the future - heaven forbid! There are numerous walls and many, many sherds of pottery all over the place, but it seems much is still hidden in the tell.
I am not sure what this is. Is it the remains of a dome from an old house or part of a Roman building. I have no clue. When I come to sites like this, it becomes so clear to me how much I have still to learn.
This looks like a cistern. The hole is quite deep and filled with assorted junk as is much of the rest of the site.
I spotted this nice wall on one side of the tell. The stones are very nicely cut and everything is nice and square. I have no idea when its from.

So I'm sorry I could not be more help, but this site is a bit of a mystery. There have been a few salvage digs and some test pits, but I can't seem to find a single map of the site so I have no idea what I'm looking at. Still I had a great time bashing through the bush and climbing over the tell. It started to get hot and I made my way down and drove on home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Foundation Stone is a bit of a scam. Professor Dan Bahat dug here for a season (or two?), for sure in 2008, before falling out with them. He excavated one (the main inner?) entrance to the Crusader castle. I wonder if it's still visible. It was at the top of the tell, next to a lone tree. The "nice wall" on your photo is part of the curtain wall. Other areas included pits reaching into deeper strata, mainly west (inland) from the tell's top.
The tower is indeed a medieval minaret, added to the Crusader church after it being transformed into a mosque. The IDF blew it all up together with the village during or immediately after the 1984 war. The Arab village, it seems, had been a hotbed of Arab resistance. At that point, the church was still well preserved. Now the "tower" / minaret is being used by Foundation Stone & Co. as a "lookout" for their stalled dig, new bannisters around the roof platform, complete with an Israeli flag and all.