Tel Be'er Sheva

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Tel Sheva, Tel Be'er Sheva, or Tell es-Seba (تل السبع) the Arabic name of an archaeological site in southern Israel/Palestine believed to be the remains of the biblical town of Beersheba.


Tel Beer-sheba, the site of the ancient city, is located on a hill overlooking the Wadi Beer-sheba about two and a half miles east of the modern city of Beersheba. The site was excavated from 1969 to 1976 by the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology, directed by Prof. A considerable part of the site was dug down to bedrock in order to find the earliest settlements at Beer-sheba.

City Gate

circa 1000 BCE

The gate of Tel Beer-sheba is adjacent to a water well. Beer-sheba is the site of two significant wells: Abraham's well at Beer-sheba was seized by Abimelech's men (Genesis 21:25), and Isaac's servants dug a well at Beer-sheba also (Genesis 26:25). This gate was a secondary protection, in addition to the main inner gate. It was part of the stratum 4/5 city, but later dismantled.

Four Room House

circa 1000 BCE

The typical Israelite four-room house in the Iron Age I & II Periods (1200-586 BCE) consisted of three elongated spaces running parallel each other and a fourth one perpendicular to the other three. These types of houses can be seen throughout Israel/Palestine, even at Avaris in Egypt centuries before where prototypes were uncovered. A number of dwellings at Beer-Sheva were planned as four-room houses and most had an open space in front of them. A life-size replica of such houses was constructed at the Harvard Semitic Museum, titled The Houses of Ancient Israel.


circa 1000 BCE

The storehouse is located near the main gate. The 600 square meters structure is divided into three long halls, divided by two rows of stone pillars. Hundreds of ceramic vessels were found in the ruins of the storehouse. The Bible writes about Hezekiah who built such storehouses, and this may have been one of the storage complexes which he built, (2 chronicles 32:27-29). The fragments of the four-horned altar were also found incorporated in the walls of the store house.


circa 1000 BCE

One of the most significant discoveries at Tel Beer-sheba is that of a horned animal altar, the first ever unearthed in Israel. Altars with horns at each of their four corners are mentioned frequently in the Bible (Lev. 4:7, 18, 25; Ex. 29:12, 30:2; 38:2; 1 Kings 1:50; 2:28). The altar was not found assembled in situ, but was discovered in secondary use—the stones of the altar had later been incorporated into a wall.