Mesudat Refed, Mesudat Hatira, Horvat Ritma, and Mesudat Har Boqer.


The fortresses that fit into this fourth category are the two upper fortresses at Kadesh-Barnea and that of Horvat Uza. For more information, see “Did I Excavate Kadesh-Barnea?” BAR 07:03.


With regard to Esdar, Kochavi has incorrectly (in my opinion) separated Strata III and II, assigning the former to the 11th century, the latter to the beginning of the tenth. I contend that they form a single level, and that, together with Masos I and Beer-Sheva VII, they were contemporaneous with the Central Negev strongholds—and that they all subsisted during the period of the United Kingdom.



Sir Charles Leonard Woolley and T. E. Lawrence, “The Wilderness of Zin,” Palestine Exploration Fund Annual III (1914–15), p. 61.


Nelson Glueck, “The Negev,” Biblical Archaeologist (BA) 22 (1959), pp. 82–97, esp. p. 93. Yohanan Aharoni, “Forerunners of the Limes Iron Age Fortresses in the Negev,” Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ) 17 (1967), pp. 1–17.


Beno Rothenberg, Negev, Archaeology in the Negev and the Arabah, (Ramat Gan, Israel, 1967), pp. 71–79.


For citations see Rudolph Cohen, “The Iron Age Fortresses in the Central Negev,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) 236 (1980), pp. 61–79. The material presented here is part of the author’s doctoral research on “The Settlements of the Central Negev,” supervised by Prof Benjamin Mazar and the late Yigael Yadin.


Cohen, “Mesudat Nahal Aqrav,” IEJ 34 (1984), p. 204. I was assisted in this excavation by M. Herman, Y. Yisrael, N. Sneh, Y. Lender, D. Nachlieli, Iris Elder and B. Steltzer. The surveying was carried out by M. Feist, I. Varkin, E. Palepa and Nellie Steltzer. Financial aid was provided by the National Council for Research and Development of the Ministry of Science and Development.


The other ten oval fortresses are: Ein Qedeis (Aharoni, “Forerunners,” IEJ, 17 [1967]); Horvat Haluqim (Cohen, “Excavations at Horvat Haluqim,” Atiqot [English Series] 6 [1970], pp. 6–24); Atar Haro‘a (Cohen et al., “The Archaeological Survey in Israel,” IEJ 15 [1965], pp. 263–264; idem, Atar Haro‘a, Atiqot [Hebrew Series] 6 [1970], pp. 6–24); Horvat Ketef Shivta (Hadashot Arkheologiyot (HA) 39 [1971], p. 30); Horvat Rahba (Cohen, “Notes and News: Horvat Rahba,” IEJ 25 [1975], pp. 171–172); Mesudat Nahal Horsha (HA, 45 [1973], p. 40); Mesudat Nahal Sirpad (HA, 65 [1981], p. 39); Mesudat Nahal Resisim (HA, 83 [1983]); Mesudat Kadesh-Barnea (earliest level) (Cohen, “Notes and News: Kadesh-Barnea,” IEJ 32 [1982], pp. 266–267); and Mesudat Ela (“Mesudat Nahal Ela,” IEJ 34 [1984], pp. 203–204).


Examples are Mesad Hatira, Horvat Har Boqer, Horvat Ramat Boqer, Mesad Refed, Mesad Nahal Nafha, Mesad Har Sa’ad, Mesad Mishor Hamah.


Horvat Mesora, Horvat Ritma, Horvat Nahal Raviv, and the fortress opposite Atar Haro‘a.


Woolley and Lawrence, “The Wilderness of Zin,” Palestine Exploration Fund Annual III (1914–15), p. 61.


Glueck, “The First Campaign at Tell el-Kheleifeh (Ezion-Geber),” BASOR 71 (1938), p. 14; BASOR 79 (1940), pp. 17–18.


Aharoni et al., “The Ancient Desert Agriculture of the Negev V: An Israelite Agricultural Settlement at Ramat Matred,” IEJ 10 (1960), pp. 97–111.


Cohen, “Kadesh-Barnea: A Fortress from the Time of the Judean Kingdom,” Israel Museum Publication (1983), p. xvii.


Rothenberg, Timna (London: Thames and Hudson, 1972).


J. Simons, Egyptian Topographical Lists, (Leiden, 1937), pp. 89–102, 178–186. Arad (nos. 107–109), Yurza (nos. 110–112), Sharahen (No. 125), Ezion-Geber (nos. 73–74).


B. Mazar, “The Campaign of Pharaoh Shishak to Palestine,” Vetus Testamentum, Suppl. IV (1957), pp. 57–66.


Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (London: Burns & Oates, 1974), pp. 288–290.


Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, p. 273.


Aharoni, The Archaeology of Israel (Jerusalem: Shikmona, 1978), p. 154 (Hebrew).


The Bible contains a great deal of information about the highways in this area. The “Way of the Spies” was the principal route from Kadesh-Barnea to Arad. The “Way of Shur” (Genesis 16:7; 20:1) ran from Beer-Sheva through the area of Halussa, Nissana, and from there to the Sinai interior, on the way towards Egypt. The Bible also alludes to the “Way of Mount Seir” (Deuteronomy 1:1–2), the “Way of the Mount of the Amorites” (Deuteronomy 1:19), and the “Way of the Red Sea” (Exodus 13:18; Numbers 21:4; 14:25; Deuteronomy 1:40; 2:1). There is a striking resemblance between the array of fortresses along the eastern edge of the Central Negev—from Horvat Rahba south to the Sede Boqer area until beyond Mishor Haruah, and then west to Ein Qedeis and Kadesh-Barnea—and the southern border of the tribe of Judah as described in Joshua 15:1–4: “The portion that fell by lot to the various clans of the tribe of Judah … Their southern boundary began from the tip of the Dead Sea, from the tongue that projects southward. It proceeded to the south of the Ascent of Akrabbim, passed on to Zin, ascended to the south of Kadesh-Barnea, passed on to Hezron, ascended to Addar … and the boundary ran to the Sea. That shall be your southern boundary.” Such a border would also explain why no remains of Israelite fortresses have been located south of Makhtesh Ramon. Aharoni believed that the Negev fortress network continued down the Aravah, via Yotveta, to the Eilat district, where Solomon’s Red Sea harbor was presumably located (Aharoni, “Forerunners,” IEJ 17 [1967]). However, subsequent research has shown that there is no archaeological basis for this view. Ze’ev Meshel’s excavations at Yotveta have revealed that the fortress here postdates considerably those of the Central Negev network (Meshel, “Notes and News: Yotveta,” IEJ 24 [1974] pp. 273–274) and a recent re-examination of Glueck’s finds at Tel el-Kheleifeh (which he identified with Ezion-geber) has conclusively proved that the tenth-century B.C. pottery is not represented (Gary Pratico, “Tell el Kheleifeh 1938–1940: A forthcoming reappraisal,” BA, 1982, pp. 120–121). It may be, therefore, that Solomon employed the Edomite King’s Highway in Transjordan (which was under his control), and that the actual site of the port is in the vicinity of present-day Akabah.