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Ancient Tell Zayit (Arabic Zeitah)

The Site as Found in 1996

Tell Zayit was located about 20 miles east of Ashkelon and the Mediterranean Sea. It was occupied from the Late Bronze Age to the Mameluke Period. The site is near the Biblical city of Libnah in ancient Judah.

Nearly all archaeological exploration throughout Israel has concentrated on large urban sites. As a result our current understanding of life in a local village setting is scant and skewed and needs both clarification and correction. The village-level site of Tell Zayit (Arabic Zeitah) presents us with an ideal opportunity to accomplish these goals. Lying in the Beth Guvrin Valley roughly halfway between the major Israelite city of Lachish and Gath -- Tell Zayit has many characteristics that make it ideal for archaeological exploration.

Taken together the acropolis and lower settlement cover approximately 30 dunams or 7.5 acres. The preliminary surface survey indicated that the village was extensively settled during the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age Periods. Tell Zayit's location in the strategic foothills southwest of Jerusalem places it precisely at a geographical and cultural interface. Important ancient roadways that connected the highland cultures of Judah with those in the lowlands and coastal centers as well as with the main highway to and from Egypt converge near the site. The entire site is intact; it has no history of prior excavations that would have resulted in areas exposed to the elements resulting in damage ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium