An archeological dig at Tel Tibnah in the Binyamin region has led to the exposure of a 4,000-year-old settlement, dated to the time when the Israelites entered the Land of Israel (2100 BCE).
At the end of a month of excavations at Tel Tibnah on behalf of the Binyamin Regional Council and Bar Ilan University, many finds were also uncovered from an ancient city that served as the capital of the district at the end of the Second Temple period.
The excavation at Tel Tibnah, directed by Dr. Davir Raviv from Bar Ilan University, is one of the first in Judea and Samaria since the 1980s.
The results of the surveys at the site, as well as its mentions in historical sources, show the presence of a central settlement from the early Bronze Age to the Ottoman period, with regional administrative and military importance.
The site is identified with Yehoshua bin Nun’s city of Timnath Serah and is considered by traditional sources to have been the town where he lived and was buried. It was later known as Timnath-Heres, a Hellenistic-Hasmonean fortified site that served as the district capital in the Roman and Byzantine periods.
The excavations exposed a large public mikvah (ritual bath), and complete pottery, coins, and bones. A rare coin from the time of the Great Revolt against the Romans (70 CE) was also found, with the inscription “Year two of the freedom of Zion.”
Shards of pottery indicating continuous settlement were also found in the excavations, along with 18 coins, four of which were identifiable. One is a Roman coin from 58-89 CE, and another is a silver Mamluk coin from the 13th century bearing the figure of a lion – the symbol of the Mamluk Sultan Baibars.
A well-preserved Roman spearhead with a bent tip dating to the 2nd century CE, a rare find in Israel, was also uncovered at the site.
The Tel Batash mound was discovered in the 19th century by C. Clermont-Ganneau, who identified it as a Roman military camp.
Despite its size and importance, the Tel Tibnah site had not been excavated until recently. Before the Six Day War, the place served as a Jordanian military post. It covers an area of about 12.5 acres and is divided into the head of the mound and its southern and western slopes. The surveys indicate that the top of the mound was inhabited from the Bronze Age to the Roman period, the slopes from the Hellenistic and Roman periods to the late Arab period when the center of the settlement was on the western slope of the mound. The survey points to two peak periods in the site’s history – Second Iron and early Roman eras.
To the south of the mound stretches a large necropolis with two tombs with decorated facades, which were visible until the beginning of the 20th century, and are dated to the end of the Second Temple period. At the feet of the graves, stands a large mikvah from the Second Temple period.
Dr. Raviv said that “the study of the excavation findings will shed light on the history of the area and the material culture of its inhabitants in a variety of periods, and especially on the early Roman period when it was located in Tel-Timna, one of the capitals of the district of Judah.”
Yisrael Gantz, head of the Benjamin Regional Council, said that “in the center of Binyamin, the center of the country, an established Jewish town was uncovered that was a focal point on the main road to Jerusalem. It’s exciting to touch the graves and remains and actually touch our roots and heritage. We merit to continue our ancestors here.”
“These discoveries are an answer to anyone who doubts the rightness of the way and our presence here and in all of Israel,” he stressed.