Horbat Raviz and its Environs
. An ancient landscape of traditional agriculture consisting of olive trees, fig trees and vineyards (as seen and documented by Guérin in 1875) has survived in a excellent state of preservation on the basalt hill of Har Raviz
and its eastern slopes, and in the region northwest of Har Kotar (Fig. 1), north of the dirt road leading up to Gush H
alav (Fig. 2). At the northern end of Har Kotar is a small ruin with piles of basalt stones—H
(map ref. 24350/76815; Fig. 3: Kh. Rabbis). The name Raviz
is derived from the site’s Arabic name, Khirbet Rabbis, as it appears on maps from the nineteenth century CE. Potsherds found in the survey conducted in 1984 indicate that the site was already inhabited in the Chalcolithic period; most of the finds, however, date to the Middle Ages (Frankel et al. 2001
:39, Site 312), and it seems that it was a Mazra‘a
, or seasonal settlement, of Kadita or Gush H
alav in the Middle Ages and perhaps during the Ottoman period as well. Slightly north of it was a dolmen and a small Muslim cemetery, the latter of which appears on old maps (see Fig. 3). The presence of terrace walls indicate that fruit tree orchards were planted in the past with great intensity throughout the region of Har Raviz
and in the area north of the road ascending to Gush H
alav. Field walls, fences, watchtowers, retaining walls of tributaries that emptied into Nah
al ‘Amud, water and drainage channels and agricultural roads were constructed parallel to the lines of the slope. The best preserved remains of ancient traditional mountain agriculture are found in this region of Upper Galilee, a rare and ancient landscape which for the most part has not yet been affected by development. In 2005 this unique phenomenon was identified and studied by the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Department within the framework of the Delta Project (Shaltiel and Alef 2005
). The results of the surveys conducted in 2007 and 2012 are described below, providing new detailed information about ancient archaeological elements in the area.
Survey in the Settlement of Kadita
Thirty-eight sites (1–38; Fig. 1) were identified in the survey and were marked with dots (e.g., watchtowers), lines (e.g., terraces, drainage channels and roads) and areas (e.g., Pool 33 and a large stone heap at Site 15).
1. An ancient road (width 3 m) running in a general north–south direction and bounded by stone walls, some of which have toppled (height 0.5–1.0 m). The road is well-preserved and stands out prominently in the area. It is also clearly visible in aerial photographs (Figs. 5–7).
3. Stone fence encircling an agricultural area and a watchtower (No. 4).
4. Watchtower located in an agricultural area (No. 3).
5. Stone fences.
6. A watchtower (height 1.5 m, diam. 3 m; Fig. 8) that is partly collapsed but in a relatively good state of preservation. Several fig trees grow around the structure.
7. Remains of a watchtower at the side of a dirt road.
8. Stone fence.
9, 10. Two watchtowers in the center of a vine cultivation plot (Fig. 9).
11. Stone heap at the side of a dirt road.
12. Stone fences alongside a dirt road.
13. A tall, partly-toppled terrace wall (height 1.5–2.0 m).
14. Terrace wall.
15. Large stone heap (height 1.5 m, diam. 10 m; Fig. 10) on the grounds of a house, perhaps the remains of a destroyed building (the Vaqnin home).
16. Terrace and stone fences.
17. A structure built of basalt fieldstones (5 × 6 m, preserved height 1 m; Fig. 11).
18. Stone trail (Fig. 12).
19. A long terrace wall (height 4 m; Fig. 13).
20. Stone pile (10 × 10 m, height 1.0–1.5 m), possibly a clearance heap.
21. A long stone fence between cultivation plots.
22. Terrace wall.
23. A long stone fence between cultivation plots (Fig. 14).
24. Terrace wall.
25. Terrace wall.
26. Stone fence, possibly clearance from the area to the north.
27. Three low terrace walls built of small limestone fieldstones.
28. A pit in the ground (diam. 5 m, depth 0.5 m), possibly natural, or a blocked cistern.
29. Terrace wall.
30. Terrace wall.
31. A lined pool (diam. 10 m, depth 1.0–1.5 m; Fig. 15).
32. Foundations of a massive wall built of two rows of stone (length 10 m, width 1 m; Fig. 16), possibly the remains of an ancient building.
33. A lined pool (diam. 10 m, depth 2 m; Fig. 17). The opening of a concrete shaft in the middle of the pool led to an underground cistern hewn beneath the pool.
34. A drainage channel lined with basalt stones inside a channel that drains south toward Pool 33 (Fig. 18).
35. A drainage channel built of basalt fieldstones (width 2 m).
36–38. Three dolmens east of the settlement’s synagogue (Figs. 19, 20). The dolmens are relatively small and are designated Type 2A, according to Epstein’s classification (Epstein 1985).
Survey of the Agricultural Area North of Kadita
Forty-five sites (1–45; Fig. 2), most of which associated with ancient or traditional agricultural activity, were identified in the survey. They are marked on the map with dots (e.g., cisterns and measurements on terrace walls or field walls), lines (e.g., a stream, drainage channel, terrace walls, field walls and agricultural road) or as a built area (e.g., Site 10).
1. Eastern end of a field wall (height 0.7 m).
2. Retaining walls in the Nahal Taytiba streambed, descending south from Ramat Dalton (Fig. 21).
3, 44. The confluence of Nah
iba and a drainage channel descending toward it from the northwest is located at Site 3. The drainage channel (Fig. 22) is delimited on two sides by low basalt walls along a shallow, natural tributary. The channel was also documented in the Delta Project survey (Shaltiel and Alef 2005
). A trail that follows the channel’s route is marked on the old maps (e.g., Fig. 3). The eastern section (between Site 3 and Site 44) of the channel is 2.0–2.5 m wide and c. 1 m deep. The channel continues west by way of Site 44 (Fig. 23), up toward the saddle. It becomes more than 5 m wide the closer one ascends near the saddle. Because the channel has been neglected and sections of it damaged, a new tributary has formed c. 10 m to the south, eroding the soil of an olive grove south of the channel. This is an example of the damage currently (especially in the rainy winters of 2012–2013) being caused by lack of proper maintenance of terraces, field walls and drainage channels that were the basis for the existence of traditional agriculture for many years, until the area was abandoned in the twentieth century CE.
4. A stone retaining wall along the western section of Nahal Taytiba. The two banks of the stream were damaged by mechanical equipment during earthmoving work.
5. A heap of stones where terrace walls and a field wall meet, in the middle of a large olive grove, north of the plot slated for cultivation. Distinctive features of traditional agriculture have survived almost untouched in the vicinity; fruit orchards, mainly olives groves, still exist here. From here the slope, with its ancient terraces, descends toward Nahal Taytiba (Fig. 24); the farther one goes downslope, the density of olive trees decreases.
6. A wide field wall (width 10 m, height 2 m; Fig. 25). To the north, cultivation plots, mainly olive groves; to the south, fallow land, except for a few trees.
7. A field wall near a lone fig tree.
8. A terrace in the area slated for cultivation; it extends south from Site 7 in the direction of a row of eucalyptus trees east of Site 9. The terrace wall’s façade was documented at Site 8 (Figs. 26–28).
9. A thickening in a field wall at the western end of a group of six eucalyptus trees stands out prominently in the area.
10. A compound (c. 15 × 100 m) aligned in a north–south direction, and a tower at the top of a slope, on the southern part of the spur of the hill. The compound includes a massive western wall that stands out prominently in the area (width 1.5–2.0 m, preserved height 1.5–2.0 m; Fig. 29). It is built of basalt fieldstones and survives to a height of four–five courses. The wall is mostly toppled over, with stone collapse visible on its western side. The protrusion of a semicircular tower facing west (map ref. 243751/768301; 2.5 × 3.0 m, preserved height 1.5 m; Figs. 30, 31) was identified in the compound’s western wall. An entrance to the compound was found slightly north of the tower, via an opening in the western wall above the stone collapse (Fig. 32); it seems that the tower was situated there to protect the entrance. The western wall of the compound may be earlier than the Ottoman period and might even be built on ancient foundations (from the Bronze Age?); however, the construction in the compound’s courtyard apparently does not predate the Ottoman period.
11–15. A concentration of five small stone tumuli (average diam. 2 m; height 0.5 –1.0 m; Figs. 33, 34), perhaps ancient tombs.
16. An area of terraces with olives trees on the upper, western part of the slope.
17. Two prominent eucalyptus trees at the western end of a field wall.
18. A watchtower at the end of a terrace (3 × 3 m, preserved height 1.5 m; Fig. 35). The northeastern part of the tower has toppled over.
19. A stone heap, possibly a watchtower (diam. 2 m, height 1.7 m; Fig. 36), in the middle of a fallow field. No rubble courses are buried in the ground. The heap may be a relatively recent feature. Seven courses of basalt fieldstones survive in the heap.
20–39. Twenty-two cisterns spread over an area of 30 × 200 m were discerned on a saddle between Kadita and the hill to its west. Three adjacent cisterns, whose openings were visible or with fairly obvious signs of their existence, were identified at Site 32. Presumably there are other cisterns in the area whose openings are no longer evident. The cisterns were apparently hewn by the residents of ancient Kadita for the purpose of storing drinking water (Figs. 37–40).
40. A small but ancient olive tree (judging by the shape of its hollow trunk), near the dirt road leading to Gush Halav (Fig. 41). The tomb of a righteous figure (tzadik) marked as Rabbi Tarfon’s appears here on a 1:10,000 scale map of the Surveying Department from the 1960’s. Jews often come here to pray (M. Elbaz, pers. comm.). The origin of the tradition of holiness attached to this location is not clear. Small basalt stones, possibly of a Muslim tomb, are scattered around the tree. The tree is supported by a low retaining wall on its eastern side.
41. Tomb of Rabbi T
arfon (Fig. 42). A gravesite near a Atlantic pistachio tree (Pistacia atlantica). The tree is one of the most ancient trees in Israel, estimated to be more than 500 years old. The blue gravesite that exists there today was built in the 1980’s by the Committee to Save the Graves of the Ancestors, replacing a modest stone monument. The spot is marked on the old maps as Sheikh ‘Ali (Fig. 3: Sh. ‘Ali); local Arabs, however, referred to the ancient tree by the name ‘the Pistcia mother of the seven daughters’ (Lissovsky 2004:
59, 63, 65). From the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century CE, the tomb of Rabbi Tarfon was marked in the vicinity of Meron. It was only in the nineteenth century CE that the tomb was identified at Kadita, probably due to a mistake on the part of Jewish travelers and writers who incorrectly copied previous travel descriptions (Hertzberg, Gabbai and Stepansky 2011:169–171). Moreover, S. Z. Kahane, Director-General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs in the 1950’s and 1960’s and the official responsible for the construction of many of the gravesites on the tombs of the righteous in the Galilee, also believed that the tomb of Rabbi Tarfon is in Meron. He makes no mention at all of Kadita as a site where there are tombs of the righteous (Bar 2007:129). In addition, the tomb of Rabbi Tarfon is not mentioned in the book Sha‘ar Ha-Gilgulim
by Rabbi Haim Vital of the sixteenth century (in which there are details of the tombs of the righteous visited by Rabbi Isaac Luria). The tomb of Rabbi T
arfon appears further west, at Site 40, on a map of the Surveying Department from the 1960s and not here beside the ancient mastic tree. Nevertheless, there is probably a reason why the tree has been preserved for so many years, which is a common phenomenon among the tombs of the righteous in the region.
42. Agricultural road (width 2 m; Fig. 43) bounded by curbstones, ascending from Nahal Taytiba to the northeast, in the direction of Dalton.
43. A continuation of the agricultural road’s route ascending to the northeast. In this section it is 1.5 m wide and bounded on the north by a basalt wall (height 1.5 m), and on the south by a row of small basalt stones.
The surveyed region reflects a typical outlying agricultural area of an ancient settlement in the mountainous Galilee. The periphery, including all of its components, is well-preserved in a relatively rare manner. In addition to the remains of ancient agricultural features, several ancient sites were discovered in the survey area, among them dolmens, tumuli and architectural remains (Fig. 2:10), all of which were documented at the summit of the hillside north of Kadita.