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Beit Sila, Khirbet

By Shahar Batz

THE SITE

Khirbet Beit Sila is located north of Jerusalem, c. 3 km northwest of Giv‘at Ze’ev and c. 2 km south of Ramallah, at c. 650 m above sea level. The site’s ruins include two main centers, 350 m apart. The one in the eastern part of the site is larger and contains the remains of numerous buildings, including a Byzantine church, agricultural installations, and mikvehs. The other center, situated on the slope, 0.5 km west of the site, includes a cemetery and a number of early structures. The total area of the remains is some 6 a.

In the 1920s, A. T. Richardson proposed identifying the ruins of Beit Sila with biblical Shiloh because of the phonetic similarity between the two names. W. F. Albright, on the other hand, identified Khirbet Sailun, north of Ophrah, as biblical Shilo, on the basis of his excavations.

EXCAVATIONS

In the 1990s, Beit Sila was investigated as part of the survey of the region of Benjamin. Two seasons of excavations were conducted at the site in 1997–1998 by S. Batz and A. Reuven on behalf of the Staff Officer for Archaeology in Judea and Samaria. The excavations were concentrated in the central area and in a number of caves and buildings in the western area. Three main periods were distinguished in the excavations: Hellenistic, Early Roman, and Byzantine.

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