After visiting the Galil Mountain Winery my sister and I got back into the car and stopped off at Tel Kedesh, a site I mentally marked some time back. Tel Kedesh is the ruins of an ancient Canaanite village on the Israel-Lebanon border. First documented in the times of Yehoshua (Joshua), the successor of Moshe (Moses) who led the Jewish People into the Holy Land, crossing the River Jordan. Kedesh is described as a Canaanite citadel conquered by the Jews and placed in the dominion of the tribe of Naftali. The mountains of the Upper Galilee, where Tel Kedesh is, are called the Naftali Mountains and internationally connected to the Lebanon mountain range from the north.
Road 899 cuts through the ancient tell, but the majority of the excavated ruins are to be found on the eastern half, which is where we explored. A small ruins, we first came upon were sarcophagi (stone coffins) and ruins of what once was a mausoleum during the Roman times. Interestingly enough, the mausoleum survived at least in a partial state until it was thoroughly destroyed by local Arab villagers sometime after 1880.
Although ruins from the earlier ages aren’t visible in what we see now visiting the site, Kedesh was mentioned as one of the few “cities of refuge” during the rule of the Israelites, starting with the era of the aforementioned Yehoshua. Later, the Assyrians captured and destroyed Kedesh along with other keys cities in the Galilee, perhaps most notably, Hazor. When I last tried to visit Hazor I was attacked and bitten in the thigh by a dog… One day I shall endeavour to re-visit the ancient site of extraordinary historical importance.
During the Hellenistic period, Kedesh was abandoned after the Jews re-conquered the town from the Greeks. Fast-forward a couple hundred years and Kedesh became known as Cadasa under Roman rule. An important Galilean Roman city, a large temple was constructed and the townsfolk engaged in farming the land, akin to today’s times where vineyards can be seen from the ruins:
Here are more ruins from the Roman temple, fancy carved stone blocks and pillars:
Slightly unstable, here is what remains of the Roman temple, signs warning of imminent collapse warning all who dare step close:
As we were leaving, having explored the eastern half of Tel Kedesh, I noticed this slightly charred cow skull in the grass next to the car. We last found a cow skull years back in the Golan whilst searching for the mysterious ruins of Gilgal Refaim (“Wheel of Spirits”), an ancient megalithic monument composed of circles of stone – and that skull now hangs on the wall next to our backdoor.
The next stop on our little trip, the cliff and cable-car of Manara Cliff, further up the Naftali Mountains.