Few sites in ancient Israel have generated as much debate as Ramat Raḥel. As explained in the accompanying article by Gabriel Barkay, the site led to a controversy (one of many) between the site’s first excavator, Yohanan Aharoni, and his nemesis, Yigael Yadin. Barkay believes that each man’s theory about Ramat Raḥel had important flaws, and in the article he offers his own thoughts about the site.
Barkay’s contribution will not be the last word on the site, however. Oded Lipschits, of Tel Aviv University, and Manfred Oeming, of Heidelberg University, are leading a major re-excavation of Ramat Raḥel. Their team conducted two seasons at the site this year—one in the spring and one in the summer—after having dug in 2004 and 2005.
“We are checking the stratigraphy and chronology,” Lipschits told BAR. He notes that while Aharoni excavated numerous finds from the end of the eighth century B.C.E., those finds were not related to the walls of the structures at the site.
Lipschits added that while the site’s architecture is similar to that of Samaria (a point made by Yadin), it has no parallels in Judah. “We want to know what was the early phase at Ramat Raḥel,” he says.
Lipschits and his team have already made good progress. Contrary to the earlier excavators, he believes we can now identify three main structures at the site: a palace on the east, a citadel on the west and a water system, complete with pools and channels, on the southwest.
Even if Lipschits does not provide definite answers to all the many puzzles at Ramat Raḥel, his dig will be thorough. “We will excavate down to bedrock,” he says.