Tel Beer Sheva National Park is the archaeological remains of the Biblical city of Be’er Sheva (Beersheba) and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park is most popular for are the ruins, the ancient well, and the sacrificial alter.
The earliest remains at Tel Be’er Sheva dates back to the Chalcolithic period but was abandoned for about two thousand years.
The city was rebuilt three times until it was finally destroyed in the late 7th century BC with the Babylonian conquest.
Settlement was rebuilt by Shevet Shimon (Tribe of Simon) in the 12th-11th centuries BCE, with some 20 rock-hewn houses, and which lasted for 500 years.
They had a deep well supplying fresh water to the inhabitants of the first permanent unfortified settlement (Joshua 19:2).
A fortified settlement was established with the houses built close to one another on the hill’s summit, forming an outer, circular defensive wall with only a narrow opening for a gate.
The houses opened inwards, towards a central square, where livestock was kept.
The first large fortified city was established here, to serve as the administrative center of the southern region of the kingdom.
It was a planned city, fortified by a solid wall of mudbrick on stone foundations.
The city gate, with a four-chambered gatehouse, is typical of Israelite military architecture of that period.
In the 9th century BCE, a new city wall was erected on the remains of the previous one.
The new casemate wall was composed of two parallel walls with a narrow space between them which was divided into small rooms, creating living and storage spaces within the wall.
An earthquake destroyed the city and rebuilt in the 8th century BCE.
The uppermost layer of the Tel Be’er Sheva is from this time.
It is a great example of provincial town planning at the time and shows the importance of the city for the defense of the southern border of the Kingdom of Judah.
Next to the city gate also stood the governors palace, with many rooms and three large reception halls.
Most of the dozens of houses in the city were built uniformly, with four rooms, one of which served as a courtyard.
A large horned altar was uncovered at the site.
It was reconstructed with several well-dressed stones found buried in the walls of the storehouse building.
This may have been because of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah stopped the worship in the outlying cities and concentrated it in Jerusalem.
It was destroyed again in a fierce fire, apparently in the campaign of destruction waged by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in 701 BCE.
After a brief attempt at reconstruction, it came to an end with the Babylonian conquest and was left in ruins.
Visit Tel Beer Sheva
If you’re already in the area of Be’er Sheva, then it’s only a 15 minute drive away by car and there there is a direct bus bus to Tel Beer Sheva National Park.
For more information, like open hours and entrance fees, see the Tel Beer Sheva National Park webpage.