Issue No.
17, September 1999 Latest update 9 of July 2007, at 6.25 am
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Human settlement in Beitin dates back to the pre-historic period. Archaeological excavations in the 1950s discovered flint tools, pottery, and animal bones dating from the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium BC). At this time the area of the springs at the foot of the Tel was a meeting place for nomadic groups. Only in the Early Bronze Age (about 3200 BC) did these groups form a settled culture. Archaeologists discovered a Canaanite temple dating to this period at the top of the Tel. Traces of blood and animal bones were found there which indicate the offering of sacrifices. Also discovered were human skulls and tombs of the Early Bronze Age as well as pottery, including storage jars and cooking pots of the Early and Middle Bronze Ages. Other Canaanite tombs were found south-east of the village. In the Middle Bronze Age (about 1750 BC) Beitin increased in size from the status of a village to a fortified town. Walls 3.5 meters thick were uncovered by excavations of a section of the defenses. Another temple was built on top of the Tel during this period. This appears to have been destroyed in an earthquake. Two city gates have been excavated, one in the north-east, the other in the north-west of the city wall. Archaeologists think that the town had two other gates, to the west and to the east. The main gate is the one to the north-west which was built on the ruins of the temple on top of the site. The walls of the entrance are 1.5 meters thick. Inside the site itself another temple was excavated and it is one of the finest monuments of the Middle Bronze Age in Palestine. IN this temple a large amount of animal bones was found along with utensils made of clay, decorated storage jars and a column bearing the head of the Egyptian goddess Hathor. The site was occupied by the Egyptians about 1550 BC after the liberation of Egypt from the Hyksos. It was then abandoned until the 14th century BC. The Canaanite city of Beitin prospered remarkaby at the end of the Late Bronze Age as is shown by the material remains of this period. Among the beautiful duildings of this Age were an olive press, found almost complete with the preserved remains of crushed olives, and large luxurious houses with floors paved with well-fashioned flagstones. The most ancient site in the region is Tel Al Tel which lies 2.5 kms east of Beitin near the village of Beir Bidwan. Today, Beitin is a small village of no more than 2000 inhabitants famous for its olive, almond, fig and plum trees. The village owes its situation to the proximity of its water springs and fertile agricultural land and to its position near important commercial routs, particularly the route connecting Jericho to the Mediterranean coast and the mountain route connecting the north and south of Palestine. Beitin is 17kms north of Jerusalem, on the Nablus road. Shortly after exiting El Bireh one must turn right at the Bet El roundabout, in the direction of the new Nablus road. The first exit to the left takes you to the old Jericho road, where the first exit to the right (1.5 kms from the first exit) leads you to Beitin.

Source: PACE visitor's guide to Beitin

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