New Integrated Knowledge based approachs to the protection of cultural heritage from Earthquake-induced Risk

Fortifications at Yoqneʽam
Rehabilitation of the Fortifications at Yoqneʽam
Implemented by: Arch. Eran Hamo Project manager
Arch. Yaara Shaltiel
Arch. Michal Ratner
Ariel Elzam
Johni Peterson

Values and Aims               
We surveyed Tel Yoqneʽam in January 2008, when we began preparing a program for the conservation and development of the site. In the twenty years that elapsed since the excavation the remains were beginning to be covered over again and they could hardly be recognized. Having read the excavation publication we understood the great cultural value that lay buried in the remains of the fortifications dating to the tenth–eighth century BCE, the time of the Iron Age 2, also called the Period of the Monarchy.
Based on the condition and scope of the remains a significant budget was required for conservation, and therefore we postponed the work in this region until a later stage in the program. Nevertheless, in order to present the values of the tell from the biblical period, we placed thematic stations along the path around the tell which deal with the following topics: the Tribe of Levy – which was given the city when the country was divided amongst the twelve tribes, the structure of the city during the period of the monarchy and the roads that passed along the foot of the tell. At the request of the district archaeologist, Tzach Horwitz, we added a station that looks out over the fortifications from which in the first years one saw mainly thorns…
The conservation and development plans accompanied by extensive educational activities were implemented as the years went by. In 2012 an initial budget was obtained for commencing conservation work on the fortifications with funding provided jointly by the Yoqneʽam municipality and the heritage project of the Prime Minister’s Office. Recently the Government Tourism Company jointed the effort by financing the planning of the visitors center and the illumination of the tell in general, and that of the fortifications in particular.
We discussed at length the question of the tell’s appearance from the outset of the preparation of the program and over the years as our activity on the tell increased. How can its identity be enhanced? What is the appropriate icon that clearly distinguishes it and highlights its values without harming them? The further we delved into this we came to believe that the system of fortifications is the proper icon for the tell. The Iron Age fortifications embody many of the cultural values of the tell. They give it its angular contour line that identifies the hill as a tell. The fortifications are a distinctly urban manifestation that reflects an urban settlement from the period of the monarchy at this site and as part of the regional and national map of settlements. The fortifications facing Tishbi Junction constitute the modern city’s façade, as well as the ancient façade to the north.
The Finds
Two fortification systems, dating to the Iron Age 2 and constructed one atop the other, were exposed on the tell.
The ancient city wall (ascribed to the Iron Age 2A – tenth and early ninth centuries BCE) is a casemate wall. Similar walls are also found at Megiddo and Hazor. The wall is built of adjacent rooms that can be reached from inside the city. These compartments were used as dwellings, workshops and for storage. At times of war the compartments were filled with soil in order to reinforce the city wall. Approximately forty meters of this wall were exposed and it is a minimum of 5 meters wide. Dwellings adjoined the wall. The city wall apparently also surrounded a water system that was not completely excavated, alongside which was found the drainage channel that was built as part of the city wall.
The city decreased in size in the early ninth century BCE. However, at the end of the century and during the eighth century BCE the settlement was renewed and flourished. A double city wall was constructed on the ruins of the casemate wall. This wall is characterized by a long narrow corridor that allows one to proceed between the fortification’s two walls.
State of Preservation
Only scant remains of the casemate wall have survived. At the time of the excavation it was on the first line of the slope. The deep excavations that were dug at the foot of the wall and the absence of conservation resulted in much of the casemate remains collapsing over the course of twenty years. Therefore most of the conservation and development work relate to stabilizing and presenting the remains of the double city wall. This wall is better preserved but parts of it that were still in place at the end of the excavation have also since collapsed and tumbled to the bottom of the slope. The intensive excavations along the slope beneath the fortification’s foundation also resulted in damage to the side of the tell.
The planning proposes a circular route inside the double city wall from an existing observation point in the western part of the excavation to an observation point in its east, accompanied by signage and illustration. The stabilization work includes covering over parts of the excavation and filling in the tell where parts of the slopes are missing. The conservation work includes restoring a large part of the outer surface of the fortification’s exterior wall, most of which has collapsed in the years since it was exposed. The upper courses of the city wall were apparently built of mud bricks, several of which were found in the debris. They survived because they were fired in the conflagration that occurred at the time the tell was destroyed. We decided on the size of the mud bricks and the manner of the construction by a comparison with finds from the same period at Tel Lachish and Tel Megiddo.
In accordance with the cultural values of the fortifications and expressing the icon, we dealt extensively with the appearance of the fortifications surrounding the tell. We consider it extremely important that the sequence of the city wall’s contour line be emphasized. We examined numerous options for highlighting this sequence by means of conservation, restoration, and with modern elements. At this point no budget has been found for conserving the entire sequence of the city wall. The section of fortifications that surrounds the water system was excavated mainly on its inside, so that even after all of the conservation work is completed it will be very difficult to distinguish it from the junction. Although we put forth several proposals for emphasizing the sequence we prefer at this juncture to invest as much as possible in the conservation work and with the exception of illuminating the line of fortifications we have postponed making a decision in this matter.
Currently the first stage is ending which constitutes about a third of the all the work. For further conservation work in the future we recommend excavating the water system and connecting it to the visitor’s route.
The cost of implementing the conservation work and developing the proposal is extremely high and it will therefore be done in stages. So far about a third of the entire work has been completed, which includes c. 30 meters of the double wall and a few remains of the casemate wall. The scope of the construction was quite large and included rebuilding the outer surface of the walls and completing one to two courses of the wall according to the preserved height of the core of the walls. We restored a small segment of mud bricks at the southern end, close to the section. The bricks were prepared by the city’s school children as part of the educational activity conducted on the tell. In the corridor formed between the double city walls we removed any dangers so as to ensure safe passage for the public, and the steps going down are built of railroad ties. Upon completion of this stage one will be able to descend from the observation point and proceed for a distance of 30 meters that were rehabilitated and return.
These days, simultaneous with the rehabilitation of the fortifications, we have begun planning a visitors center to be constructed at the southern foot of the tell. Finding a budget for conserving and developing a biblical tell is not obvious. Nevertheless, the cooperation and commitment of the Yoqneʽam municipality headed by Simon Alfasi and the Israel Antiquities Authority have resulted in raising funds and an extensive investment in conservation, development and education.   We wish to continue this successful collaboration and are hopeful that in the coming year we will continue with the rehabilitation of the fortifications until the entire visitor’s route is opened.
Yaʽara Shaltiel
April 2013

To view the figures, click on the figure caption
Plan of the Iron Age 2 fortifications. The casemate wall and the double wall above it. Prepared by Arch. M. Ratner based on plans by A. Ben-Tor.

Proposed route between the double city wall. Prepared by Arch. Y. Shaltiel from an aerial photograph published by A. Ben-Tor.

The double city wall 2009, 2012, 2013. Photograph: Yaʽara Shaltiel.

View from inside the city walls upon the completion of the work. Photograph: Yaʽara Shaltiel.

Proposal for illustrating the sequence of the fortificationís contour line. Prepared by Arch. M. Ratner.

Conservator Johnny Peterson at work. Photograph: Yaʽara Shaltiel.

Yoqneʽam pupils preparing mud bricks. Photograph: Eran Hemo.

Yoqneʽam pupils preparing mud bricks. Photograph: Eran Hemo.

Conseravation Plan for the wall

Preparing the mud bricks

Proposal for illustrating the sequence of the fortificationís contour line. Prepared by Arch. M. Ratner.

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