Tell el-Far'a
 

Tell el-Far'a
Palestine

 

photo: © José G. Gómez

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Geographical condition

Tell el-Far’a is an archaeological site situated 11 km northeast of the Palestinian city of Nablus, in the mountains of Samaria, although in administrative terms it belongs nowadays to the province of Tubas. It is a tell of important dimensions, located in a stony mountain plateau of 198 meters of altitude, which, in the southern flank, ends abruptly. It measures approximately 600 meters in length and 300 meters in width, that is, 18 hectares. The location of the archaeological site in this place conforms to three basic reasons: easy natural defences (except in the west flank); a good water supply, due to the two near natural watercourses (‘Ain ad-Dlaid and ‘Ain al-Far’a); the control over the communication route which connected the Jordan valley (situated 20 km west) to the region of the ancient city of Shechem (currently Tell Balata, in Nablus).

Map of the location site.

 

Panoramic photo
Tell el-Far'a

 

photo: © José G. Gómez

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Previous Work

In 1946, Tell el-Far’a was chosen by Roland de Vaux, director of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française (EBAF) of Jerusalem, to start a great project of excavations with the permission of Jordan’s Department of Antiquities. From the 1st of June 1946 to the 22nd of October 1960, were developed a total of nine archaeological campaigns, which De Vaux combined, between 1949 and 1958, with his work in Qumran, near the Dead Sea. In the 1970s, EBAF tried to re-established the projected but was not successful. The work of De Vaux has led to the establishment of an occupation sequence formed by seven major periods (circa 8500-600 BC):  

01.
–Pre-Pottery Neolithic 

 

05.
–Middle Bronze II

02.
–Chalcolithic

 

06.
–Late Bronze

03.
–Early Bronze I

 

07.
–Iron I e II (with five sub-periods)

04.
–Early Bronze II

At present, the archaeological materials exhumed by the French team are conserved in several institutions: EBAF, Rockefeller Museum (Jerusalén), Musée du Louvre and Jordan Museum (Ammán). 

In 1931, William F. Albright was the first researcher to propose the identification of Tell el-Far’a with the ancient city of Tirzah, mentioned seventeen times in the Old Testament. Tirzah was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the end of the 9th century BC. As such, it was the official residence of king Jeroboam I until Omri moved the court to Samaria, around 880 BC. Notwithstanding, the hypothesis Far’a = Tirzah, commonly accepted, requires definitive confirmation.

 

 
 

Wadi Far'a
1954 

 

photo: © Archivo EBAF-Amiet

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Bibliographical selection of previous work

Albright, W.F. (1931): “The site of Tirzah and the Topography of Western Manasseh”, Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society 11, 241-251. 

Amiet, P. et al. (1996): Tell el Far’ah. Histoire, glyptique et céramologie, Fribourg.

Chambon, A. (1984) : Tell el-Far’ah I. L’Âge du Fer, Paris. 

De Vaux, R. (1951a) : « La troisième campagne de fouilles à Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse.», Revue Biblique 58, 393-430. 

De Vaux, R. (1951b) : « La troisième campagne de fouilles à Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Rapport préliminaire (suite)», Revue Biblique 58, 566-590. 

De Vaux, R. (1952) : « La quatrième campagne de fouilles à Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Rapport préliminaire», Revue Biblique 59, 551-583. 

De Vaux, R. (1955) : « Les fouilles de Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Cinquième campagne. Rapport préliminaire », Revue Biblique 62, 541-589. 

De Vaux, R. (1956) : “The excavations at Tell el-Far’ah and the site of ancient Tirzah”, Palestine Exploration Quarterly 88, 125-140. 

De Vaux, R. (1957) : « Les fouilles de Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Sixième campagne. Rapport préliminaire », Revue Biblique 64, 552-580. 

De Vaux, R. (1961) : « Les fouilles de Tell el-Far’ah. Rapport préliminaire sur les 7e, 8e, 9e campagnes, 1958-1960 », Revue Biblique 68, 557-592. 

De Vaux, R. (1962) : « Les fouilles de Tell el-Far’ah. Rapport préliminaire sur les 7e, 8e, 9e campagnes, 1958-1960 (suite) », Revue Biblique 69, 212-253. 

De Vaux, R. (1967): “Tirzah”, in D.W. Thomas ed., Archaeology and Old Testament Study, Oxford, 371-383. 

De Vaux, R. (1976): “El-Far’a, tell, North”, in Avi-Yonah, M. ed., Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 2, Jerusalem, 395-404.

De Vaux, R. et al. (1993) : «Far’ah, Tell el- (North) », in Stern, E. ed., The new encyclopedia of archaeological excavations in the Holy Land, vol.2, Jerusalem, 433-440. 

De Vaux, R. ; Steve, A.M. (1947a) : « La première campagne de fouilles à Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Rapport préliminaire », Revue Biblique 54, 394-433. 

De Vaux, R. ; Steve, A.M. (1947b) : « La première campagne de fouilles à Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Rapport préliminaire (suite) », Revue Biblique 54, 573-589. 

De Vaux, R. ; Steve, A.M. (1948) : « La seconde campagne de fouilles à Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Rapport préliminaire », Revue Biblique 55, 544-580. 

De Vaux, R. ; Steve, A.M. (1949) : « La deuxième campagne de fouilles à Tell el-Far’ah, près Naplouse. Rapport préliminaire (suite) », Revue Biblique 56, 102-138. 

Mallet, J. (1973) : Tell el-Far’ah (Jordanie). L’installation du Moyen Bronze antérieure au rempart, Paris. 

Mallet, J. (1987) : Tell el-Fâr’ah II. Le Bronze Moyen, 2 vols., Paris.

 
 

Excavations EBAF
1946-1960

 

photo: © EBAF-Amiet ArchivE

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New project

In October 2016, the University of A Coruna, the NOVA University of Lisbon and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Palestine signed a cooperation agreement in order to initiate a new research phase at Tell el-Far’a. The first field campaign took place in October 2017.

Tell el-Far’a is an archaeological site of reference in Palestine’s archaeological historiography. It is an important enclave which judging by his historical potential for the comprehension of the Bronze and Iron Ages in this region of Eastern Mediterranean deserves new campaigns of research. The combination of stratigraphic surveys (from the top to the base of the tell) and the excavation in extension will enable us to reach new data of indisputable importance for our knowledge of the evolution of Palestine’s settlement between the birth of the first cities (c. 3000 BC) and the arrival of the Assyrian Empire to the region of Samaria (c. 720 BC). The new archaeological project has as its main goal the development of the following lines of research:

- Architecture and urbanism: village and city;

- Material culture: pottery, metallurgy, glyptic, etc;

- Chronological sequence: archaeology, history e absolute dating;

- Economy: trade routes and contacts;

- Fauna and flora: paleoclimate, paleodiet, and natural resources;

- Conservation, restoration, valorisation e musealization of the archaeological site.

 

Ceramics
Far'a 2017

 

PHOto: © José Pardo

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Direction

The new project of Tell el-Far’a is a scientific cooperation initiative coordinated by:

Juan Luis Montero Fenollós, professor at Facultade de Humanidades e Documentación, Universidade da Coruña;

Francisco Caramelo, professor at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa;

Jehad Yasin, director-general of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage.

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Tell el-Far'a

 

PHOto: © José G. Gómez

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Sponsors

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Palestine

Palarq foundation

CHAM-Centro de Humanidades

CULXEO-Instituto Universitario de Xeoloxía 

Instituto Español Bíblico y Arqueológico

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