Jan 8, 2010

The Krayot - an amazing experience

As far as the eye can see, covering several hills, I see ruins, tumbled stones and caves.  Visiting this place is an amazing experience.  Amazing, because you can see how people lived here. You can see what a huge population they had.  Bits of Roman glass and Byzantium pottery are scattered everywhere. (Bits of modern garbage, too - to those visitors who casually dropped their litter, shame on you!).  Stone walls can be clearly defined. 

David and I have been here more than once and haven't seen it all.  In fact, from its size I would say that we will probably never see it all, no matter how many times we come.  This was a rich trade city 2,000 years ago.  As we wander through the city, it's easy to identify the neighborhoods; some of the people lived overground.  We can see the leftovers of a pillared market street. Some of the people lived underground - but even the cave dwellers had status.  Some caves are rough-hewn, scraped out of the rock, while some are framed with attractive (and probably expensive) pillars and stone lintels. (I don't have a photo of the fanciest ones). 

I suppose that on a cold winter night, this place would be freezing above ground, so perhaps the caves are a good idea.  People must have lived here for a long time - building new houses on top of the old.  We found mosaic blocks scattered in some areas, and bits of broken glass bracelets that looked Mamlukish - a much later period.  The only sign of modern times is the goat droppings (why or how anyone could graze goats on such barren ground, I don't know) and the occasional plastic water bottle or candy wrapper.  

If you're in Israel and interested in visiting, the Krayot archaeological ruins are located near Tel Arad and the Yatir Winery, west of today's city of Arad.