Ancient Boundary Stone Discovered

The Greek words, "Kfar Nafah" were inscribed on the 1,700-year-old rock, matching that of a modern village despite no continuous settlement.

Boundary Stone Discovered

Photo: Assaf Peretz, IAA

In the Golan Heights, where the Syrian village of Nafah had been until the 1967 war with Israel, a 2020 excavation discovered a large stone covering a tomb. That stone turned out to be a repurposed boundary stone from 1,700 years ago. The inscription on the stone, translated from the ancient Greek, read “Kfar Nafah.”

Inscribed Boundary Stone

Stone inscribed “Kfar Nafah”
Photo: Assaf Peretz, IAA

This was most fascinating to archaeologists because there has been little evidence of settlement continuity in the area for most of the previous 1,500 years, since Byzantine times. They speculate that many generations passed down the place name, even though people didn’t settle there.

The Boundary stones were placed at the boundaries of villages during the time of Roman Emperor Diocletian. This assisted the Romans in the taxation of the peoples living in the Golan Heights.

Nafah Excavations

Photo: Assaf Peretz, IAA

The Israel Antiquities Authority excavation, led by Dina Avshalom-Gorni and Yardenna Alexandre, is being conducted for the installation of a water pipeline. At Nafah, researchers have also discovered a public building from 1,300-1,500 C.E., known as the Mamluk period. Along the main path from Galilee to Damascus, the building probably served as a stopover point. Signs of an ironsmith’s workspace, iron slag and the remains of a furnace, were found in the courtyard area. Travelers would have patronized the ironsmith to have their horses’ shoes repaired or replaced, and also rested en route to one major destination or the other.

A version of this post first appeared in Bible History Daily in October, 2020

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