Tel Arad

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Tel Arad (Hebrew: תל ערד‬) is an archaeological tel, or mound, located west of the Dead Sea, about 10 kilometres (6 miles) west of the modern Israel/Palestine city of Arad in an area surrounded by mountain ridges which is known as the Arad Plain.


The site is divided into a lower city and an upper hill which holds the only ever discovered "House of Yahweh" in the land of Israel/Palestine. Canaanite Arad was a planned city from the beginning of the Canaanite urbanization period. It is surrounded by a wall and is divided into public buildings and residential areas. The rich findings discovered in the excavations demonstrate a range of economic resources such as agriculture, non-irrigated farming, grazing, art and trade. Arad was an urban center for the inhabitants of the region.

Archaeological Districts

circa 950 BCE

Upper Arad
The Arad fortress or the upper Tel Arad would have served to protect Judah’s southern border against its enemies, in particular, the Edomites. Although there was a small settlement during the time of Solomon, it was during the divided monarchy period that a fortress was established at Tel-Arad. The fortress (illustration) was destroyed and rebuilt several times, until finally destroyed as a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Judah in 586 BCE. In the Early Arab period (7th-10th century), a fortified caravansary was established to protect the trade routes which passed there.

circa 950 BCE

Lower Arad
The lower area was first settled during the Chalcolithic period, around 4000 BCE. Excavations at the site have unearthed an extensive Bronze Age Canaanite settlement which was in place until approximately 2650 BCE. The site was then apparently deserted for over 1500 years. The site was only resettled by Israelites from the 11th century BCE onwards, initially as an unwalled area defined as an official or sacred domain was established on the upper hill, and then later as a garrison-town or citadel.

circa 950 BCE

Judean Temple
Tel-Arad sported a complete temple, apparently Judean, located in the north-western corner of the fortress , included all of the features of Solomon’s temple. The temple was in use from the 9th to the end of the 8th century BCE, i.e. concurrent with the Temple in Jerusalem. This is one of the few temples remaining from Biblical times. The temple in Arad was built according to the plan of the Tabernacle (illustration) described in the Bible and consisted of three parts: the inner courtyard, the temple and the Holy of Holies.

Significant Artifacts

circa 950 BCE

Among the most significant artifacts unearthed at Tel Arad are 91 ostraca, known as the Arad ostraca, written in Palaeo-Hebrew script, referring to the citadel as the House of Yahweh. They are mostly orders to the quartermaster, commands and lists of names. The Eliyashiv Ostraca, all found in the same room, are addressed to a person named Eliyashiv, ordering him to deliver a specific quantity of wine, flour, etc.


See Also


Let's bring some history to your inbox

Signup for our monthly newsletter / online magazine.
No spam, we promise.

Privacy Policy