Tel Bet Yerah (Khirbet el-Kerak) is the site of a
large fortified Early Bronze Age town (25 ha present size, approx.
30 ha [=80 acres] original size) situated at the point where the
Jordan River exits Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Described by
Albright as "perhaps the most remarkable Bronze Age site in all
Palestine", the site was occupied throughout the Early Bronze Age
(35002300 BCE), and presents the most complete sequence of the
transition from village to city life in ancient Canaan. Built on a raised
peninsula near an important crossroads and a
fertile valley, Tel Bet Yerah became a major regional centre, and its fortification
systems, city gate, streets and houses reveal elements of advanced urban planning.
The monumental Circles Buildingthe granary of Bet Yerahis unique in the
ancient world. Khirbet Kerak
Warea remarkable type of bichrome potterywas first defined here and carries the
name of the site.
After the decline of the Early Bronze Age town, limited parts of the
site were occupied in the Middle Bronze Age and in the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman,
Byzantine and Islamic periods.
Although the name of the Early Bronze city is unknown, the name "Bet
Yerah", first mentioned in the Talmud, could preserve an ancient tradition connecting
the Canaanite site to a moon deity. In the Hellenistic period the city was called Philoteria,
and somewhat later the name Zinbari (Arabic al-Sinnabra) was associated with the site. In
recent generations the mound was known as "The Kerak", a name preserving the memory
of the fortified town that once existed there, its ruins still visible. "The Kerak"
figures prominently in the folklore of early Zionist communal settlement in Palestine, evoking
memories of its natural beauty and inspiring scenery.