Tell Kisson

The Tell is a biblical city on the ancient Via Maris road, south-east to Acre. 



Home > Sites > West Galilee >Tell Kisson (Kison, Kissan,Achshaf)








Aerial Map




 -Gate to city

 -The slopes

 -Top of Tell

 -Ancient road

 -The well

 -Motor visitors

 -Olive harvest







  The site is located on the coastal section of the ancient road of Via Maris, the major highway that connect Egypt to Syria and the north. This Tell (also spelled: Tel) dominates the entire plains south-east to Acre. Its identification is not certain;  some scholars identify it as Achshaf or biblical Cabul.


Location and map:


   The site is located in the plains south-east to Acre, and is seen form all sides as a large hill. The site can be reached either from Kefar-Masarik on the west side, or closer - from the gas station in Tamra.


 In the north side of the Tell is the entrance to the city, while all around the hill the slope is very steep.


   The soil in the area was muddy, especially in the wet winters when the Naaman river, west to Tell Kisson, overflowed. In the Biblical texts the area is called "land of Cabul", implying a muddy soil which is found in swamps, and is a deposit of decaying plants in swamps. This made the city, and the paved road that passed on the west side of it, important in the ancient times, since the trade route had to pass via this road.


This is the aerial view of the area from the south-east side. Pointing on  purple points will automatically scroll  to the relevant photo, text or web page.




History of the place:


   The Tell was inhabited starting from the Chalcolithic period (4,500 BC-3150BC), but the massive walls were built in the Middle bronze period (2200-1550BC).  There are findings from later periods: Iron/Israelite age, Persian, Early Roman, Late Roman, Byzantine, Mamluk and Ottoman.


A ring belonging to the Ramban was found on the slopes of hill, probably lost in 1267AD when the famous Rabbi was touring the Holy Land.




(a) Overview


This is the view of the Tell from the south side. On top of the Tell is an olive grove, as well as around it (see olive harvest later in this page).


Click on the photo to view it in higher resolution...

Overview of Tell Kisson - seen from the south side


A closer look from the south side.  As can be seen, the hill is steep in order to defend it better.  The builders of this biblical city built massive walls around it, and a steep glacis, as part of their defense lines.



(b) Gate to the city


Recent excavations (Apr/May 2006) have revealed parts of the city gate, located on the north side. This dirt road climbs up from the valley to the top of the hill, passing through massive walls and steep glacis. The archaeological digs are not yet done, as can be seen below.



A closer look on the wall shows a cross section of the defense walls, which were built in the  middle Bronze period, over 3500 years ago.



These stones are part of the stone paved road leading into the city.



Another cross section of the walls, with markers still stuck in the layers.



(c) The slopes


From the top of the hill you can get a better impression on the might of the city. The glacis and walls made it hard from the attackers to get into the city. This photo is taken towards the east.



Another view of the east side.



(d) On top of the Tell


On top of the Tell earlier excavations revealed several Byzantine buildings, including this 6th C church.



A watch tower is located on the north-east side.


A watch tower on the north-east side top of Tell Kisson.

(e) Ancient road


Below the Tell, on the west side, you can see the remains of the paved road (Via Maris).


Traces of the ancient road, north-west of Tell Kisson


In the 2006  a section of the Roman road from Acre to Sepphoris was excavated north-west of the Tell. Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.


Kisson excavation of Roman road


(f) Well


Close to the ancient road path, on the north-west side of the Tell, are the ruins of a covered well house.


A covered well on the north-west side of Tell Kisson.


  Another detail of the well.  The water would be drawn up from the well, and poured into a water trough, which some parts of it remain on the bottom of the building.


A covered well on the north-west side of Tell Kisson.


A view of the back of the house, with the deep well. The Tell is seen in the background.


A covered well on the north-west side of Tell Kisson.


(g) Motor Visitors


There are frequent visitors to the Tell - dirt bikes and motorcycles - that shoot up the slopes.



A closer view of the group. In the background is the entrance to the Tell, where recent excavations were done.



(h) Olive harvest


On the top of Tell Kisson, and around it, there are many olive trees.


   In the month of November the Galilee is in the middle of the olive tree harvest. Families gather at their olive groves, shake the branches, and collect the olives on colorful blankets. Then the olives are brought to a central oil press,  crushed into olive oil, and packaged, then sold.  The yellowish liquid - olive oil- is almost like  gold, both in color and in value.


This picture was taken on top of the Tell in November 2006.  Note that the year 2006 was an excellent year for olive oil in Israel.


Collecting the olives on top of Tell Kisson. The branches are shaken, and the olives fall down on the blanket.


   Another olive harvest activity is seen on the eastern slopes of the Tell. This practice did not change in the thousands of years since the olive oil became one of the important exports of the Galilee. Many ancient oil presses are found near the ancient sites, and were used for thousands of years to crush the olives.


A view towards the east side of Tell Kisson, and another family is collecting olives



Biblical References:


(a) Joshua 19:24,25


This text, describing the land of the tribe of Asher, lists the cities in their area. One of the sites  may relate to Tell Kisson - maybe it is Achshaph. However, Achshaph may also be identified in Tell Regev, as per  some scholars, since it is listed with sites on the south side of Asher. Another possible identification could be ancient Cabul (Chabula, Kavul).


"And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families. And their border was Helkath, and Khali, and Beten, and Achshaph And Alammelech, and Amad, and Misheal; and reacheth to Carmel westward, and to Shihorlibnath; And turneth toward the sunrising to Bethdagon, and reacheth to Zebulun, and to the valley of Jiphthahel toward the north side of Bethemek, and Neiel, and goeth out to Cabul on the left hand,  And Hebron, and Rehob, and Hammon, and Kanah, even unto great Zidon; And then the coast turneth to Ramah, and to the strong city Tyre; and the coast turneth to Hosah; and the outgoings thereof are at the sea from the coast to Achzib: Ummah also, and Aphek, and Rehob: twenty and two cities with their villages.


(b) Kings I (9: 11-13)


   This text tells about the Solomon-Hiram agreement, where the area of west Galilee (land of Kavul/Cabul) was traded with the Phoenicians. The implied reason was that King Solomon had to pay for his debts (to pay the cost of the timber, labor and other goods), and he paid with prime real estate (although Hiram was not pleased as per the Biblical text). Actually, this old treaty lasted for 3000 years until Israel was founded, since the area of west Galilee always remained under the Phoenician control.


" now Hiram the king of Tyre had furnished Solomon with cedar-trees and cypress-trees, and with gold, according to all his desire--that then king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. And Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him: and they pleased him not. And he said: 'What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother?' And they were called the land of Cabul, unto this day".




* Archaeological:



(a) Tell Kisson recent digs  (in Hebrew): 

  • North West walls (2006)   - cross section of the walls, dated to the middle Bronze period (first half of 2nd Millenium BC). The digs, seen in the photos above, revealed a  steep glacis was built around the top of the hill to protect it, massive walls, and possibly sections of the gate.

  • North West to Tell (2006) - ruins from early Chalcolithic, early Bronze, Persian and Roman periods. Also, a section of the Roman road from Acre to Sepphoris.

  • Area north-west to Tell (2005)  - limited excavations, revealed Persian period ruins and ceramics from Iron, Bronze, early Chalcolithic periods.

  • Area north to Tell (2005)


(b) North-East to Tell (2002) - inspection excavations, with ruins from several periods. The important finding is that the city extended more than 170M north to the Tell, making it a larger city than the size of the hill.


(c) Arch. dig in 1971- Revealed ruins of a church and a cross engraved in the rock from the 6th C AD


* Biblical References:



Etymology (behind the name):
  • Kisson - unknown source


  • Kavul - In Hebrew, a muddy soil which is found in swamps, and is a deposit of decaying plants in swamps.


  • Tell (also spelled Tel) - a layered mound (read about the story of the Tells) - walk with us through the sites of the Holy Land


      Ofrat <<<--previous West Galilee site---<<<All Sites>>>---next West Galilee site-->>> Tell Bira