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The Golan Heights: A Battlefield of the Ages

September 11, 1988|NICOLAS B. TATRO | Associated Press

A bulldozer helped remove large basalt stones from around the entrance to the ancient palace. Among the finds were two delicately carved legs to a basalt stoneware pot and a perfectly preserved long-necked beer jug that was twisted and partially melted by the intense blaze.

At Tel Soreg, midway between the Sea of Galilee and Afiq, volunteers sifted the remains of the settlement that was continuously inhabited for 2,000 years and is believed by some to have been the biblical Aphek, a possibility Kohavi discounts because it was too small to match the biblical descriptions.

The Golan's battles even touched Tel Soreg, though it was out of the path of armies marching across the plateau two miles away. "When the Aramaeans and Israelites were fighting, the residents of Tel Soreg built a high wall for defense" in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, he said.

Trying to Unravel Mystery

Zohar is trying to unravel the mystery of Rogem Hiri, which the Druze Arabs have named the "stone heap of the wild cat."

The four concentric circles of stone walls with a 6 1/2-yard-high mound of stones in the middle has been likened to Stonehenge, the Neolithic stone circle in England. Like Stonehenge, it may have been an astronomical observatory; the entrance marks the point of sunrise on the longest day of the year.

"It has to be a burial site," said Zohar, standing on the central heap of black volcanic stones. The cone-shaped core had collapsed and the original structure resembled a stepped pyramid like those found in ancient Egypt.

Pottery found there this year dates the site to about 3000 BC.

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