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Kerioth-Bypass digs at Tell Zibda

27 October 2007

A new highway, the Kerioth-Bypass (“Kvish Okef Kerioth”), is planned to bypass the Kerioth of Haifa, the northern residential neighborhoods in the bay of Haifa. The modern road is now in initial infrastructure works. It follows the path of the ancient highway, the coastal branch of the Via Maris road (“Derech Hayam” = “Way of the sea”).

The ancient road was a north-south highway that once connected Asia-Minor/Assyria/Babylon (in the north) to Egypt (in the south), the major road of the fertile crescent. This ancient trade road had a split at Tell Zibda and the neighboring Khirbet Gedora, where one road turned south-west towards Haifa and the other road turned south-east to Yokneam and Megiddo.

Emergency excavations are conducted in order to salvage the ancient ruins along its path. Tell Zibda is a small site located 500M North-east to Moshav Kefar-Bialik and 600M east of Kiryat-Bialik. Current excavations are conducted this fall on its eastern section. The site dates to the Iron/Israelite period, Persian and Hellenistic periods. It is hardly visible since several meters of soil covered most of the site, leaving only few traces on its western side.

The following photo shows some of the covered pits, east to the dirt road which is used by the local farmers. The jeeps seen in the photo are part of a tour that passed at the site.

Tell Zibda excavations

Most of the Tell is covered by the fertile land around it, and the excavators had to dig several meters under the soil between the olive trees. The following photo shows Webmaster Rotem, a resident of Kefar-Bialik, holding the yardstick in one of the pits.

Tell Zibda excavations; with Rotem

Tell Zibda excavations - one of the pits

The initial dig plan is to cut 20 square pits, collecting the findings and assembling the pottery. After the assembly of the pottery and classification, a report will be prepared. Then it will be decided if to continue with more excavations, or to abandon the site.

Tell Zibda excavations - ceramics collected from the pits

Tell Zibda excavations - collected ceramics

The west side of the Tell is slightly higher than the road, located between the olive trees, and seen in the photo below. This side is not excavated since it is not yet affected by the new highway. After all, there are higher priority excavations in the thousands of sites in the Holy Land.

Tell Zibda - west side

At the end of the process the site will be covered, and in future it will be razed and covered by the modern highway construction.

Nov 19, 2007: The excavations found so far two levels (end of Iron age, and early Bronze age). On the eastern side a section of a road (Roman?) has been found.
Etymology (behind the name):
Zibda – from Arabic: butter, also means “fertile” and “quality”.
Okef – Hebrew – bypass.
Kerioth – Hebrew: towns, cities. Kerioth (Krayot, Krayioth) can be found in the old testament (Jeremiah 48: 21-24): ” And judgment is come upon the plain country… And upon Kerioth”. It is also found in the new testament (Matthew 10): 2-4: “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these… and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him”. Iscariot means Ish (man) of Kerioth (towns).
Derech Hayam – Hebrew – “the way of the sea”. In Latin; Via Maris. Biblical reference (Isaiah 9,1): “Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations”.


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