Set next to a small spring inside Ramon Crater, Metsad Saharonim was a caravanserai along the “Incense Route”, an important trade route from Roman Times. Set next to a rare natural water source, Metsad Saharonim was a rest place for the convoys loaded with valuables, before their steep ascent up the northern edge of the Ramon Crater, towards Avdat.
The Incense Route and the Negev
The ‘Incense Route’ was a network of ancient roads that enabled transferring precious spices and perfumes across the Arabian Peninsula to the Mediterranean coast. The full length and exact path of the Incense Route is still not fully known. It began somewhere in Yemen, passed through Mecca, Medina, Petra, and ended in the ports of Gaza and El-Arish. The path from Petra to the Mediterranean coast is better documented. It passed the Aravah and the traversed through the heart of the Negev, including a difficult cross of the Ramon Crater. Today, the route and its related archaeological sites are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The site is set like as fort with watchtowers in each corner. A partially paved road reaches the site from route 40. Aside the site, Metsad Saharonim is a good starting point for a 2 hours’ hike along the Nekarot gorge (‘Parsat Nekarot’).
A visit to the Metsad Saharonim and a hike to Parsat Nekarot can be combined with an off-rad day tour along the ‘Incense Route’.