Outdoor The Israeli Experience Magazine

A trip to The Lost City

A walking trail between the stone structures of a mysterious ancient settlement in the Nagev
by: Israel Traveler   |   23.03.2011
The mysterious name "The Lost City” was given to this ancient site by the archeologist and researcher, Yehuda Nevo, of the Sde Boker College in the Nagev. This is an especially large and fascinating site from the late Byzantine Period and the early Muslim Period (the sixth and seventh centuries AD). The site is hidden behind a low hill, near road number 40, about 300 meters to the North of Halukim Junction. It is an ancient settlement spread over a vast desert area, part of which is cultivated in agricultural terraces. This great site contains tens of impressive stone structures and remnants of human settlements.
The tour starts at "Hagai Observation Point” near Halukim Junction, which looks over Sde Zin, Sde Boker, Ramat Avdat and Hod Akev to the South-East. From the observation point we go down on a path marked in green which leads to the wadi on the South, between agricultural terraces and the numerous stone structures of the "Lost City”. At the stone structure near the path you turn left (East) and continue about 50 Meters toward the soft white chalk rocks on which can be found an abundance of rock engravings and ancient Arabic writing. From a research of the writings (translated by Professor Moshe Sharon) it seems that this was a special site of a group of nomads who lived at the outskirts of Christian society in the Byzantine era. They were probably pagans who survived the Christianization process of the Negev (in the fourth to sixth centuries AD), and with the Islamic conquest in the seventh century adopted the Islamic religion. Many of the writings have a religious ritualistic nature and deal with the asking of forgiveness from Allah. The names suggest a population of a Semitic Arabic origin. In this site were found hundreds of writings and rock engravings.
Going back to the path and with it turning South (the path is well indicated), we go toward another large structure. This is a big open mosque in which one can still recognize the Mihrab, the Muslim praying niche, in the Kibla wall, indicating the direction of Mecca and thus the direction of prayer. From the mosque the path continues South toward the Ro’eh Park, where The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel) built picnic tables and other park facilities under the shade of the trees. At the end of the tour one can go visit the nearby renovated Ben-Gurion's Desert Home, Israel's first prime minister’s humble Negev home, or as it’s called in Hebrew, "hut”, to which he moved in order to provide a personal example for others and help settle the Negev, which he regarded as Israel's frontier.
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