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.
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