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Mezad Yeruham

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Transliterated Name Source Name
Mezad Yeruham Hebrew
Qasr Rekhmeh Arabic
Description and Excavations

Mezad Yeroham, west of the Sede Boqer-Yeroham road, about 1.5 km (1 mi.) southwest of the development town of Yeroham (map reference 1408.0438), is a site occupying a total area of some 25 a. It is situated on Neogene hills covered with limestone hamada, between the two branches of Nahal Shu'alim, near Lake Yeroham. The site was first surveyed in 1870 by E. H. Palmer, who reported the remains of a town buried under so much alluvium it was almost invisible on the surface. N. Glueck realized the importance of the site in his 1954 survey of the Negev. He called it Qasr Rahme. He discovered a tombstone here on which the name "Alexandros" was incised in Greek. The site was surveyed in 1965 and its extent determined by the southern team of the Archaeological Survey of Israel, directed by R. Cohen. Cohen later (1966-1967) excavated here on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums. The excavations were necessitated by the plan to turn the area around Lake Yeroham into a park. The excavations were concentrated in four areas (A-D), in which three levels of occupation were identified (strata 1-3).

Maps and Aerial Views
Maps and Aerial Views


Normal Size

  • Location Map from Stern et. al. (1993 v.3)


  • Location Map from Stern et. al. (1993 v.3)

Aerial Views

  • Aerial View of Mezad Yeroham from Stern et. al. (1993 v.3)
  • Mezad Yeruham in Google Earth
  • Mezad Yeruham on


Stratum Period Dates Description
1 Byzantine 5th-6th centuries CE The highest point in the development of the settlement at Mezad Yeroham was in the Byzantine period (fifth-sixth centuries). Buildings were found in areas A, B, and D, indicating that the Byzantine settlement occupied the northern part of the site. Some of the agricultural terraces along Nahal Shu'alim, north and northeast of the settlement, should probably be assigned to the same period.
2 Late Roman 3rd-4th centuries CE Remains from the Late Roman period were exposed in areas B and C. They comprised two levels of occupation. Stratum 2B was assigned to the second and third centuries, beginning under Hadrian (117- 138) and probably reaching its peak under Commodus (180-192). Stratum 2A was assigned to the third and fourth centuries - from the time of Severus (193-211) to its peak development during the reign of Constantine the Great (324-337). A stratigraphic sounding, going down to bedrock, was carried out in the southern part of area B, under the remains of the Byzantine structure VI (stratum 1 ), over an area of some 20 by 10m. It unearthed remains of a Roman structure (XV) built of ashlars. Two building stages could be identified (strata 2A and 2B). In the northern part of area C, the excavators cleared ten rooms of a building (XVI). Here, too, there were two discernible building stages (strata 2A and 2B).
3 Nabatean beginning of 1st century CE The Nabatean settlement at Mead Yeroham (stratum 3B) should probably be dated to the beginning of the first century, in the reign of Aretas IV (9 BCE-40 CE). Its earliest stage was probably as a road station during the first half of the first century BCE (stratum 3B), remains of which were found in areas B and C. In time, a permanent settlement developed here. At the height of its prosperity (stratum 3A), it was built of ashlars. Its remains were unearthed in areas B and C. Stratum 3A, most of which was found in area B, should be dated to the second half of the first century CE, perhaps to the reign of Rabbel II (70-106).

A stratigraphic sounding was carried out in the southern part of area B. Among the finds were the remains of a Nabatean structure (XX) that consisted of several rooms. Two building stages were discernible (strata 3A and 3B). The finds on the floors of the rooms included painted Nabatean bowls and coins of Aretas IV (stratum 3B) and Rabbel II (stratum 3A). Also worthy of mention was an altar shaped ivory charm. A building containing a large room (9.50 by 8.50 m) was cleared in the southern part of area C (structure XXI). In the room were five pillars. To its north and south were small rooms (3.5 by 2.9 m). Here, again, two levels of occupation were identified (strata 3A and 3B).

7th century CE earthquake

Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.


Cohen (1968)

Communication from R. Cohen. - Excavations, directed by R. Cohen behalf of the Antiquities Service, were carried out from September to December 1966, at Mesad Yeruham (Qasr Rekhmeh), in the central Negev, 40 km south of Ber Sheva.

The site occupies approximately 100 dunams and, as E.H. Palmer already pointed out in 1870, the remains of this installation “so scattered and so covered by the earth, that they appear above ground ". In 1953, Prof. Nelson Glueck identified a large Nabataean installation and the objects found on the surface depicted the Greek name of Alexander. While surveying the site in 1965, the Israeli team came to the conclusion that this installation understood a several mounds representing individual buildings which were part of a fort.

The excavations were mainly focused on two of these Hills. On the first northern hill, we uncovered a construction covering more than 800 m2. It consisted of three blocks of dwellings comprising, in total, twelve rooms connected by a courtyard central. The walls were preserved to a height of 1.80 m. The objects found on the floor of the rooms date from the 5th-6th centuries AD. and include Byzantine pots, lamps, jars and coins.

On the central hill, the highest on the site, we have partially cleared four buildings. A street, 2.70 m wide, divides this together in two sectors east and west.

In the western sector, a building, which covers more than 500 m2 consists of eighteen rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The walls were preserved at a height of 2-3 m. A lintel, decorated with rosettes, was among the rubble, near the entrance of one of the rooms. Objects found on the floors of the rooms go back in the 5th-6th centuries AD and include many ceramic objects: lamps, jugs, pots, jugs, jars and small decorated bowls. Two Greek ostraca written in black ink are particularly interesting.

Two similar buildings, covering more than 950 m3, were cleared in the eastern sector. There, too, ceramics and coins indicate the 5th-6th centuries AD. A lintel decorated with a cross is of special interest.

In the southern part of the site, the remains of a Nabataean building were excavated. Ceramic objects collected from the floors of the rooms and court include many beautiful Nabataean sherds decorated and stamped.

Mesad Yeruham appears to have served as a guard post on the ancient Avdat (Oboda) - Mamshit (Kurnub) trade route and its existence is linked to the history of the Nabataeans and the great Roman-Byzantine road in the Negev.

Notes and Further Reading

Bibliography from Stern et. al. (1993 v.3)

E. H. Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus 2, London 1871, 404-405

N. Glueck, BASOR 138 (1955), 7-8

R. Cohen, RB 75 (1968), 405-406.