Perched on a hill in the heart of the Judean lowlands (the Shephelah), Tel Yarmuth (spelled also: Jarmuth) is a significant archaeological site from Canaanite times, and especially from the Early Bronze Age. It is 18 miles southwest of Jerusalem and 3 miles south of Beth Shemesh.
Yarmuth in the Bible
The Book of Joshua records the Canaanite king of Jerusalem calling the king of Yarmuth and other kings to join in forces against Joshua and the Israelites. However, Joshua defeats the Canaanites and slaughters the kings (Joshua 10). Later, Yarmuth was included in the lot of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:35). Yarmuth was resettled again by Jews during the return from Babylonian exile (Nehemiah 11:29).
Excavations at Tel Yarmuth
The location of Yarmuth is preserved by its Arabic name – khirbet el-Yarmuk. It is a 20 acres site, with a 3 acre size acropolis. Excavations carried out at the site uncovered significant remains from the Early Bronze Age, including a 1.5 acres palace influenced by Egyptian architecture. This seems to indicate Yarmuth was an Egyptian-Canaanite center about 5,000 years ago. The acropolis was also settled in 13th century BCE, and up to Byzantine times.
Touring Tel Yarmuth
The site is open year-round and is free of charge. A red marked hiking trail leads to the site’s summit from Ramat Beth Shemesh main road. The archaeological remains are mostly fortifications from Canaanite times. It is best to visit the site in the spring, when the spring blooms covers the site with green lush and wildflowers. In recent years a modern Ultra-Orthodox city is being built around the site.
A tour of Tel Yarmuth can be combined in a guided day tour in the Judean Foothills (the Shephelah).