Ruins of a Middle Bronze Age fortress are located on an edge of a cliff overlooking the deep gorge of Nahal Kziv
Ruins of a Middle Bronze Age fortress are located on an edge of a cliff overlooking the deep gorge of Nahal Kziv, in the Upper Galilee area. It is the most preserved complete Canaanite palace found so far in Israel.
Location and map:
This aerial map indicates the major points of interest around the site. The ruins of the fortress are located on the north bank of Nahal Kziv at the altitude of 391m – about 220m above the spring of Ein Tamir.
Hikers start from the adjacent Zeytim parking, descend 120m to the spring of Ein Tamir, then walk along the valley of Nahal Kziv. The site is highlighted by a yellow square.
- Middle Bronze period
This Canaanite fortified palace, built in the 18th-17th century BC (MB2), belonged to a Kingdom centered in nearby Kabri. During the MB2 the city state of Kabri, west of the city of Nahariah, expanded to the areas of the western Upper Galilee. The kingdom was a strong regional center and coastal power between 1750 to 1600 BC, with ties to Egypt, Cyprus and the Aegean. It held fortresses in Kabri, Nahariyah, Akhziv and Avadon.
The fortress in Ein Tamir, probably Kabri’s eastern most fortification, resembles that one exposed in Tel Kabri (area D). There were no other antiquities around this remote fortress, and so the archaeologist suggested that it was used as a palace, for the purpose of glorifying their hold of the land, rather than a strategic stronghold.
The fortress measures 32m by 25m, and is oriented north-south. It is now mostly hidden under the trees, so only the traces of the walls are visible.
The structure includes a courtyard (13 x 16m) with rooms around it on the northern section, and four rooms on the south. The external and courtyard walls are 1.5m wide, while the internal walls are 1.0-1.2m wide. The walls were exposed down to the floor, at heights of up to 2.2m.
The entrance was on the eastern wall, 10m from the northeast corner. It lead thru two casemate guard rooms to the courtyard on the north side of the fortress.
A staircase was found in the corner casemate chamber, implying that the fortress had two floors.
Plan of the palace (as appears on the signage in front of the site)
Another theory is that Ein Tamir was the western frontier fortress of the Middle Bronze city in Ikrith – 4km north east of this site.
- Modern Period
The fortress underwent limited excavations in 1990 by an IAA team, that included youth volunteers from the field school of Akhziv, guided by their instructors from the field school, and with the assistance of the nearby Kibbutz Eilon. The team, The headed by Nimrod Getzov of the IAA, exposed the north east corner area. According to the ceramic fragments, the archaeologists dated the structure to the MB2 period.
The site is in a public area, with a convenient parking place and picnic tables (KKL’s Ein Zeytim).
(a) Aerial Views:
The drone captured a view from the west side of Zeytim (Olives) parking lot, which is located at the side of the ruins. On the right is the deep gorge of Nahal Kziv.
Click on the photos to view in higher resolution…
The hikers leave their cars here, then descend thru a nature trail down to the valley.
The 2 buses that parked here are waiting for a group of American youths who came to tour the country within the context of Taglit (Birthright Israel). Their guide gave them a speech on the area, then walked with them down the trail. This is the best way to learn about Israel and absorb its spirit: by foot.
A closer view of the ruins are in the following view. Notice the 2 persons walking on the south-east corner of the fortress, near the sign of the nature reserve.
Closing on the ruins, the sections of the walls are better seen next. The trees and bushes now cover most of the ruins and it is hard to see the plan of the fortress. This view is oriented to the north.
On this view we tried to draw up the plan of the walls, using the yellow lines.
(b) Ground Views:
Going from the sky down to the ground level, we tried to see more details of the fortress.
The northern wall is the closest to the road. The walls were constructed by medium sized field stones, typical of the Middle Bronze age. They were exposed to the floor level, with heights of up to 2.2m.
The area near the north-east corner of the fortress is in the following photo.
Another section of the eastern wall:
The south eastern corner of the fortress is next, looking towards the west. This wall was the southern side of the fortress, adjacent to the edge of the cliff.
(c) Kziv stream:
From this point there is a trail that descends to the valley. It is marked with blue and white stripes.
The trail reaches the spring named Ein Tamir (Hebrew for the ‘hidden’ spring).
The persons who are walking the trail were part of the Taglit group of youths.
From the edge of the cliff are great panoramas of the valley of Nahal Kziv.
The nature trail then continues along the bottom of the valley.
Further east, an interesting cave is on the north bank of Nahal Kziv. On the external wall of the cave, known as the Temple cave, is a large (3m) engraving of what looks like a Roman soldier.
(d) Flight over the site:
The following YouTube video shows a flight of a drone over the site.
Etymology (behind the name):
* Names of the place:
Ein Tamir – Hebrew: The hidden spring (named as such since it flows in a 15m long tunnel)
Zeytim parking (Henion Zeytim) – Hebrew: Olives parking place. Named after the olive trees around the site.
- Hadashot Arkheologiyot 97 1991 pp. 16-17 – Ein Tamir fortress [Nimrod Getzov] – Hebrew In Jstor library
- Nahariyah and Ein Tamir – fortresses of the MB city of Kabri, P. 4 (pdf, Hebrew)
- Middle Bronze Age Settlement Patterns in the Western Galilee – Assaf Yasur-Landau, Eric H. Cline and George A. Pierce (Journal Of Field Archaeology vol. 33, pp. 59-83, 2008)
- Flight over Tel Kabri BibleWalks videos
* Nearby sites:
BibleWalks.com – Views of the Holy Land
This page was last updated on Sep 16, 2019 (Added Video of Tel Kabri)