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Friday, March 17, 2006

Photo Friday (Vol. LX) [desert ruin edition]

I'll cut to the chase today since the pictures do most of the talking anyway.

Just north of Beer Sheva, off to one side of the main road (Rt. 40), sits a ruined building that never fails to catch my eye when I pass it.  Invariably I am running late and don't have time to stop and explore... but last week I finally pulled over and checked it out.

I have no idea what it was or who built it, but the stonework and location suggest it is probably left over from when Beer Sheva was a sleepy, southern outpost of the Ottoman Empire.

This is what the ruin looks like calling to passers by from its little hill in the Negev Desert (note: everything in the desert is green these days because we've just finished with the winter rains):

Walking from the road, the ruins begin to take on some detail:

On the extreme right side of the picture above you can see the remains of a small room that had little niches in two walls.  Were these for pigeons, mail, keys? ... who knows.  Here is a closer look at this detail:

Once inside the ruin I noticed some neat architectural touches that further reminded me of some of the Turkish Ottoman buildings in Beer Sheva's Old City.  Here is an arched doorway (note that some of the mud/plaster that once covered all of the walls remains inside the room beyond the archway):

And another one:

While standing inside one of the smaller side rooms I noticed that a hole in the wall was neatly framing some nearby trees and a smaller ruin:

That's it for today.  I've been poking around more ruins lately (closer to home) so in the weeks to come you may see more of this sort of thing.

Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by David Bogner on March 17, 2006 | Permalink


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So interesting, as usual! Shabbat Shalom.

Posted by: Essie | Mar 17, 2006 1:42:49 PM

Now if I can only get college credits for this archtitcetual class...great post.

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Mar 17, 2006 3:20:39 PM

Very cool to find these treasures.

I have always been curious, because I don't remember whose ruins they were, but in the Negev, I think near Arad are some ruins from a very ancient civilization. I know this is vague, but do you know or have seen these ruins?

Posted by: jaime | Mar 17, 2006 3:20:42 PM

There are some amazing ruins in the Negev from the Nabatean civilization at Avdat. The ground is still strewn with piles of ancient pottery. Well worth a visit.
Was in Ramat HaGolan last Shabbat and I was amazed by the greenery and the flowers. Have been to Israel many times, but never this time of year.
Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by: Alan | Mar 17, 2006 3:28:00 PM

I always enjoy these "expeditions."

Posted by: Jack | Mar 17, 2006 4:37:51 PM

Spring - best time of the year in Israel and very beautiful. I've been to Avdat, great day trip.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Mar 17, 2006 5:48:15 PM

This is great! I love ruins! Those holses might have been used as storage facility for food or for valuables. So, so cool! Thanks!

Posted by: Irina | Mar 17, 2006 6:40:23 PM

Beautiful photos!

Posted by: Aaron | Mar 17, 2006 6:42:20 PM

can almost smell the fresh air while looking at that scenery... 2 days and I'll be there in person! CAN'T WAIT!
Shabbat Shalom!

Posted by: Val | Mar 17, 2006 6:54:11 PM


Posted by: psychotoddler | Mar 17, 2006 7:00:45 PM

Those 'pigeon holes' are found at Masada too. Can't remember the guides theory regarding them. Did people that long ago use carrier pigeons to send and receive messages? Rings a faint bell but maybe I'm making it up. (like some people do about cowboy boots).

Posted by: Scott | Mar 17, 2006 7:55:17 PM

Just googled Purim and found your blog, looks very interesting here..i will be bookmarking and coming back.
I haven't been to the Negev since 1993 :(

Posted by: Rachel | Mar 17, 2006 8:53:27 PM


Here are my pics of the 'pigeon' holes at Masada:



I made them small so they load fast. Feel free to publish them if you'd like. They look very similar to 'your' pigeon holes. Surely this helps date the ruins you have pictured?

Anybody, feel free to link through my pics in my various galleries on Pbase. I'm a bit proud of my Israel pics and love to share them.

Posted by: Scott | Mar 17, 2006 9:42:31 PM

Wow! Living down here in Golus Brooklyn, USA, I can't even begin to imagine living near ruins. That must be so exciting! The closest thing I come to ruins is sunken fishing boats in Sheepshead Bay surrounding by oil slicks and empty bottles of Corona and Clorox, not to mention (okay, to mention) the Sewage Treatment Plant where, as my best friend's daughter likes to announce whenever I come over, "all the doodie goes."
Good Shabbos.

Posted by: Erica | Mar 18, 2006 12:12:49 AM

beautiful pics.
it'd be interesting to find out what those ruins were originally.
there's always some historical significance with any ruins in israel!
shavua tov :)

Posted by: Sarah | Mar 18, 2006 1:12:42 PM

Last year I posted about an unusual structure seen from the air - also just north of Beersheva:


I wonder if your ruins are part of them?

Posted by: Dave | Mar 18, 2006 8:37:38 PM

Uh, Scott - people back then raised pigeons for food, just as they do now.

"Squab" is baby pigeon.

As a former New Yorker, I have trouble with this concept - even though I now live in the country and have seen nice, clean pigeons instead of the pigeons I saw growing up (the avian equivalent of half-drunk shopping-bag ladies who live on park benches...)

Posted by: Ben-David | Mar 18, 2006 9:20:54 PM

Wow those pictures make me REALLY sick of winter here. I am truly over snow. Beautiful!

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Mar 19, 2006 7:44:19 PM

My opinion is that it's an Ottoman outpost from World War 1, and the ottomans used pigeons for communication. The building is not older than that, but I can be wrong about if it's an outpost.

Posted by: Emanuel Ben-Zion | Mar 20, 2006 2:18:44 AM

Essie... Thanks. Hope you had a good one.

Jewish Blogmiester... You weren't reading blogs on class time, were you? ;-)

Jaime... I've biked over near Arad but don't remember any particular striking ruins. I'll have to look into it. But these are so far from there I can't imagine a connection.

Alan... These are certainly no more than 100 years old. My best guess is they are Turkish in origin.

Jack... You mean you can't drive over to 'the valley' and see stuff like this? :-)

Lisoosh... Yup, everything is in bloom!

Irina... after reading some of the comments and doing some lazy-man's research (internet), I am leaning towards the pigeon theory.

Aaron... Why thank you (some people find them 'washed out' ;-)

Val... and here you are! :-)

Psychotoddler... Totally.

Scott... These are fairly recent ruins so I'm sure pigeon mail was quite common, but there are ruins in Beit Gubrin that have underground Pigeon chambers with hundreds of such holes for the birds to roost.

Rachel... Glad you stopped by. I hope you'll make this a regular thing.

Erica... they have ruins in Brooklyn. They're called pre-gentrified slums. :-)

Sarah... Like I (and a couple of others) said... it looks like a Turkish Ottoman outpost of pre WW1 vintage.

Dave... My, my but you need to find yourself a hobby or three. And I'm sure someone with a bunch of letters after his or her name would have something to say with your fixation with fish. ;-)

Ben-David... They may have raised pigeon for food, but not in this sort of an arrangement. Everywhere I have seen these little holes (Pigeon holes) it has been for carrier pigeons.

Ezer Knegdo... Perhaps it's time for you and your husband to take a trip (hint hint). :-)

Emanuel... I agree with you. Thanks.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Mar 20, 2006 12:09:44 PM

I've always wondered about that structure, too. People here seem to assume that it's from antiquity. Couldn't it be some Bedouin sheikh's manor?

Posted by: jon | Jul 29, 2006 12:34:24 AM

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