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In the Beth Shean valley, along the Jordan River, are two tells 5 km from each other: Tell es-Sarem and Beit Shean.

This site was called Scythopolis by the Jewish writer Josephus, while Pliny designated it Nysa. Beth Shean was inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic period until today. Archaeological excavations were conducted:

  • from 1921 until 1933 by the University of Pennsylvania under the direction of C. S. Fisher, A. Rowe, G. and M. FitzGerald;

  • In 1980, by Yadin Geva;

  • from 1989 until 1996 by the Hebrew University, under the direction of Amihai Mazar.

Some monumental stelae with inscriptions from the reigns of Seti I and Ramses II were found there. They are stored in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. It should be noted a life-size statue of Ramses III.

Archaeologists have concluded that Beth Shean was the center of Egyptian rule in the second half of the New Kingdom. Before it was more Sumur that had this role. One can understand why: the latter city was in the country of Amurru and seems to have been completely destroyed under Akhenaten.

Tell es-Sarem is a great tell. Its surface is approximately 100 000 m2.

From 1997 until 2003, archaeological excavations were conducted under the guidance of Amihai Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Like Beth Shean, this tell was continuously occupied from the Early Bronze. The remains of a wall 9.5 m wide show a massive fortification around the city, from the early Bronze.

Excavations have unearthed a stele which describes a revolt of cities (Pehel, Hamat and Yenoam) against the Pharaoh Seti I: It indicates that Rehov was not associated with this event. Rehov also has been suggested as being the ancient name of this city.

This argument is thin to say Tell Es-Sarem is the ancient city of Rehov: steles and statues seem to have been moved extensively about this time at the discretion of raids on cities. The area of "Rehavia" in Jerusalem can equally match. Moreover, in the letters of Taanach, Rehov was considered to be the city with the name of "Rahabu".

The I18 letter of Mari evokes a place name "Bit Sirim". Phonetically, this name is more certain for the tell es Sarem to the Early Bronze Age. Perhaps also this city has had two different names over time, refleting different people inhabiting.

For Beit Shean, the name of Bit-Sani seems more likely regarding only the phonetic argument : in the Amarna letters from the time of Akhenaton, a city is mentioned in the letter EA289 under this name of Bit-sani.


For an explanation on the colors of text, click here.

For French language, click here.

My notes of veracity :

Beth Shean was the city designated "Bit-Sani" in Amarna letters: 4/5

Tell es-Sarem was the city designated "Bit-Sirim" in Akkadian: 3/5

Tell es-Sarem was the city designated "Rehov" or "Rahabu": 2/5

Tag(s) : #Region:Levant, #Kingdom : Upi

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