The Yatir Forest
Yatir, the largest of Israel's forests,
boasts a variety of trees planted by
JNF and providing refreshing
shade on the edge of the desert. The
outing takes us past remnants of
agricultural fittings from the third and
fourth centuries, which were used b
inhabitants of southern Mt. Hebron
who lived off farming and animal
husbandry. Named for the biblical,
priestly town of Yatir, the forest
provides lush green cover on Mt.
Hebron's southern slopes of rolling
limestone hills, which reach an altitude of som
e 700 meters. For more information
on Yatir Forest, drop in at:
families with children, wheelchair
ridden physically challenged
For your convenience, there is a recreation area near the entrance to
the scenic trail, equipped with picnic tables, barbecue grills, water taps, pl
and trash cans. Please do not light fires along the Agriculture Trail itself.
To reach Yatir Forest, take the road branching north from the Shoket
(No. 31); or Road No. 3269, from Mt. Hebron's southwestern communities
. About 5
kilometers from the Shoket Junction, towards Arad, turn north (left, for those
coming from the Junction; right, for those coming from Arad). Drive along the main
road through Yatir Forest, past the forestry hut, and turn right towards Shani/Livan
After the Anim Runis (on the right), cross the bridge and river bed, and turn right
onto a dirt road that leads to the Agriculture Trail. Continue for a few more meters
to the parking lot, next to the recreation area. Then walk to the Agriculture Trail.
This trail, which is the destination of the outing, contains ancient agricultural fittings
recently uncovered by KKL
JNF. The rare concentration of so many trappings in
one place attests to the fact of former settlement in the heart of the desert.
The following sights are found along the trail:
The first stop is a wine press, used in early times to express juice from grapes.
Carved out of the rock, the press consists of three graded levels. In the upper level,
which is the
largest of the three, the grapes were trodden by bare feet. From here the
pulp flowed to the second level
which was a sedimentation basin for solid wastes.
Once the solids had sunk to the bottom and the basin had filled, the juice was
transferred to cont
ainers, generally made of clay. When full, these were placed in
where the juice fermented to become wine.
The next stop is an underground cistern, carved out of the rock. Shaped like a bell, it
is wide at the bottom and narrower at the top. Cisterns were a vital source of water
on the edge of the desert, capturing and storing the meager rainfall by channeling
from rooftops via specially
built gutters and canals. On its way to the cistern, the
water passed through a small sedimentation pool, where the debris sank to the
bottom. A trough for livestock can be seen near the cistern.
further on you will come to a crushing stone, carved from the rock and used
in the production of olive oil. The hole in the middle held a vertical beam, to which
a horizontal one was attached. Olives (or grains) were placed on the stone platform
d by the vertical beam, which was driven by animals circling the stone.
From here, the pulp was transferred to a pressing basin, and the oil extracted.
The stone fences you see along the trail were used as animal pens. As mentioned
above, it is not usual to find so many farm trappings so close to one another. This
may be evidence of a large population having lived at the site; or, of a small
t manufactured farm "appliances" which were later delivered to various
Near the end of the trail, you can visit a burial cave where individual chambers have
been carved from the rock.
This completes the tour of the Ancient
Ancient Synagogue and Biblical Fortress
After completing the tour of the trail, you may wish to visit the Anim Ruins, site of a
synagogue in the Talmudic period (4th century), which served the Jewish minority
in the village until the
latter's conquest by the Moslems in the 7th century. There is
also a fortress dating back to the Israelite Kingdom (8th century BCE).
The Synagogue at Anim
Built in the 4th century, the synagogue survived some four centuries. Between the
early Moslem and the Mameluke periods, it was served as an impressive mosque.
Rectangular in shape, its narrow side faced Jerusalem. It was made of large, hewn
stones, and s
tructural remnants are more than three meters high. The floor was made
of large stones and in the past the roof was covered by eaves. The eastern wall,
which was the front of the synagogue, had two openings (like those at Ashtamoa,
Susiya and Maon), confor
ming to the precept that synagogue openings were to be
made only in the eastern wall (Tosefta 83, 22). Along the eastern wall, an entry
passageway has been exposed, in front of which are pedestals, pillars and capitals.
To the east of this entrance, you wi
ll find a courtyard with a water cistern in the
middle. At the north of the prayer hall, a pulpit has been uncovered.
Israelite Kingdom Fortress
Near the synagogue, at the top of the hill, are the remains of a fortress dating back to
the Israelite Kingdom (from the 8th century BCE). The walls of this square building
were five meters thick. It is believed that following the destruction of the Second
Temple, the fortress served the local farming population.
This completes the tour of the site.
To return to the parking lot leave the Anim Ruins and
go back down to the main access road.