Eveha International carried out a preliminary study of the glass artefacts found on the Mambré Oak site in Hebron (West Bank). This project is led by Jehad Yasin (Department of Antiquities of the West Bank) and Vincent Michel (University of Poitiers, HeRMA).
Jehad Yasin (Départment of Antiquities, West Bank)
Vincent Michel (Université de Poitiers, HerMA)
The site is located north of Hebron, 3 km from the city centre. It borders the ancient road linking the Hebron-Jerusalem route to the Bethlehem-Zif route. According to Jewish tradition, this hill would correspond to the place where Abraham came to set up his camp after God promised him a vast land and many descendants (Genesis, 13:14-18).
With the advent of Christian times, in the late Antiquity, it also became a renowned place for pilgrimages. Three main periods are thus well documented: Roman, Byzantine and medieval periods.
The first major remain is the « Herodian »sacred enclosure. Protecting an area of more than 3000 m², the walls were built in large apparatus. A well was located in the southwest corner of the complex.
Around 130 AD, during the Roman rule, some of these wall blocks were taken to build a pagan temple dedicated to Hermes.
In the 4th c. AD, a basilica was built in the eastern part of the enclosure. Preceded by a narthex, three naves led to an apse flanked by two sacristies.
In the 6th century, a church is depicted on the Madaba mosaic (Jordan) in association with the Hebron site. This church would occupy the location of the current research project.
The church was reportedly destroyed during the Persian invasion in 614 and restored in the 7th century. Still in use during the Crusades, it was gradually abandoned, as the all site.
Several excavation campaigns were undertaken in the 20th century. The German archaeologist E. Mader carried out excavations in 1928, followed by Israeli Y. Magen, who supervised surveys in 1984 and 1986. These initial observations revealed five phases of occupation from the Iron Age to the Mamluks.
V. Michel, professor at the University of Poitiers, resumed the archaeological research in 2016 after a hiatus of nearly 30 years. The objectives were to carry out an areometric survey of the entire site, to conduct a building study and to lead surveys to precise the chronology of the successive settlements. More than fifty holes were thus made inside and outside the enclosure.
The initial results somewhat contradict the conclusions of the previous teams.
The artefacts and C14 dates contradict the dating of the enclosure: considered to have been built during the imperial period, the construction seems more probably to date from the late Antiquity.
A first occupation was also apprehended below the paving already attested. This discovery enables us to rethink the stratigraphic link between the construction of the enclosure and the paving identified throughout the area. Indeed, some researchers assumed the contemporaneity of the two constructions while others thought that the surrounding wall had intersected an earlier paving, which would explain several irregularities in the constructions. Several surveys have revealed the existence of a large embankment, very rich in material, between the rocky substratum and the paving. The artefacts provide very distant dates, between the end of the Roman Empire and the first half of the 8th century.
Today at the stage of preliminary study, all the artifacts will have to be fully studied in order to specify the dating and phasing of the site.
How Eveha International Participates
Glass artefacts study
Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Palestine
Excavations Commission, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Development
HeRMA – University of Poitiers, France
French Consulate in Jérusalem
Labex RESMED Paris-Sorbonne, France