Excavations and surveys of underground cavities at Hurbat husham, Judean foothills

Translated title of the contribution: חפירות וסקרים ארכיאולוגיים בחללים תת-קרקעיים חצובים בחורבת חושם, שפלת יהודה

Boaz Zissu, Eitan Klein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Hurbat Husham is situated in the Judean Foothills at the summit of a hill that overtops its surroundings (elev. 380 m above sea level). It is located in the northern section of a ridge that is part of the High Shephelah, between the Nahal Soreq and Nahal Elah basins. The ruin covers some 50 dunams at the top and along the slopes of the knoll. It affords a view in all directions, including towards the coastal plain, the Shephelah, the Soreq valley, and extensive stretches of the Judean Hills as far as the Beit El Hills. The name of the site, Hurbat Husham, or, in Arabic, Kh. el Kheishum (i.e.,“nose”) reflects the fact that it towers prominently over its surroundings. Beginning in the late 1990s, the authors documented and mapped underground cavities and other archaeological features there, in the wake of intensive illegal excavations carried out by antiquities looters. We documented a variety of elements, including mikvaʾot (ritual immersion baths), underground storage cavities, a hiding complex, agricultural facilities, a small fortress at the top of the hill, and burial caves. A large underground cistern similar in its layout and design to others that have been found on the slopes of Hasmonean/Herodian fortresses throughout Judea were also documented at the site. These findings bear witness to a large Jewish settlement from the Second Temple period until the Bar Kokhba Revolt. The site's unique topography, the name, the existence of a long rectangular cistern from the Second Temple era, and pottery from the second century BCE all suggest the existence of a Hasmonean/Herodian fortress intended to guard the western approach and one of the major access routes (the Soreq valley) to Judea in the late Second Temple period.
Translated title of the contributionחפירות וסקרים ארכיאולוגיים בחללים תת-קרקעיים חצובים בחורבת חושם, שפלת יהודה
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Hypogea 2019
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of International Congress of Speleology in Artificial Caves
EditorsA. Zhalov, V. Gyorev, P. Delchev
PublisherInternational Union of Speleology
ISBN (Print)978-619-7526-01-1
StatePublished - 2019


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