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Al-Jib – Ramallah

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 18.02.2007:

Past the village of Bir Nabala lies the picturesque village of Al-Jib (the biblical Gibeon). The ancient Tell is a rocky hill situated in the midst of a beautiful, intensely cultivated plain. Al-Jib was identified as biblical Gibeon and this was confirmed by the discovery of inscribed jar-handles on the site.

On the southern edge of the village, a path leads to an impressive water pool. The ancient water system here is probably the most interesting in the whole country. A 12th – 11th century BC cistern has a spiral staircase of 79 steps cut in solid rock, giving access to a spring outside the walls. This system denied water to attackers while making it available to inhabitants under siege.

Al-Jib was also famous for the production and export of wine, especially during the 8th – 7th century BC. The round holes cut in the rock next to the pool are the entrances to the wine cellars; 63 were discovered, each one capable of storing 42 jars of 35 litres each. When sealed by a fitted cap, the stone cellars maintain a constant temperature of 18ºC. The wine was sold in smaller jars with the name of the city and the producer stamped on the handles. Wine production made Gibeon a prosperous city but this glory never returned after the city’s destruction by the Babylonians in 587 BC. The city was briefly revived during the Roman period.

This Week in Palestine

February 2007

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