Tell Hannathon

Tell (mound) Hannathon was an important Biblical city in the heart of the lower Galilee, on the junction of ancient crossroads. It was relocated to a village called Shikhin (Asochis) in the Hellenistic period.




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Tell (Mound) Hannathon is an important Biblical site in the entrance to the Netufa Valley, on the junction  of ancient roads (coming from Acre, Sepphoris, sea of Galilee and Megiddo/Yokneam). It was in the heart of Lower Galilee and played an important role in the history of the land. Today the Tell is in ruins. A large lake was constructed to the east of it, part of the national water project, reserving water that was pumped from the sea of Galilee and providing water to the center and south of Israel.


In the Hellenistic period the population moved to the hills to the south, a village called Shichin (Asochis), which was one of the Hasmonaim cities.  After the Jewish revolt it was a Jewish city and the place of one of the 24 Mishmerot Cohanim villages and cities (as per Chronicles 25, 7-18). The village continued until the end of the Roman period (7th C AD).


In modern times a Kibbutz by the same name is located nearby to the south-west of Tell Hannathon. An Arab village, Kefar Manda, is located nearby to the north.




The Tell is located on the east side of the road from Hamovil Junction towards Kefar Manda. You can stop and walk to the Tell. After a short visit, you can continue towards Yodfat (Jotapata).


The village of Shikhin is located on the 2-3 hills south of the modern highway that passes near the lake, in the direction of Sepphoris.


History of the place:


(a) Pre-history


   The city started to be populated in the Early Bronze (3150-2200 BC), and especially in the middle Bronze (Caananite) period (2200-1550BC).


(b) Late Bronze (Canaanite)


   In the late Bronze period (1550BC- 1200BC) the city expanded.  It was mentioned as  "Hinatuna" in the Amarna letters, a 14th century BC Egyptian archive of clay tablets, in an incident of a robbery of a Babylonian convey near Hannaton.


(c) Israelites (Iron Age)


  The Bible told us that it was then one of Zebulon tribe cities (Joshua).  According to recent ceramics survey, the lower Galilee area was in its peak until the 8th C BC. The number of large fortified cities was 5-6, and many more villages.


  Then, it all disappeared for 2 centuries (7th and 6th C BC). The reason, according to the surveyors, was the intrusion by the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III which caused a major damage to the region.   This catastrophe happened in   734-732BC  , as told by the bible (Kings II 15: 29): "In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abel-beth-maacah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria.". Hannathon is not mentioned explicitly in this text,  but in the Assyrian lists (excavated in the city of Kelach) the city, called Hannathon, is mentioned as one of the sources of prisoners.


(d) Hellenistic


   The city relocated to the low hills on the south, as most of the Tells in Israel, and was renamed Shikhin (or Asochis as referred by Josefus). It was captured by Thalami IX in 103BC when he fought with Alexander Yannay.


  The site was very close to Sepphoris, as described by Josephus. Since it was located on the road from Sepphoris, Jesus must have passed through this village on his many travels between Nazareth and Capernaum.


  The village of Shikhin was probably destroyed in the Arabic period (7th C AD). Today the site is hardly noticed and is not marked on the maps.



(a) Tell Hannathon


A view of the Tell from the west.


Click on the photo to view it in higher resolution...


The Tell is also seen from the south-west in the golden sunset. Behind it is the Netufa Valley. On the mountain, at the left, is where several important sites are located: Yodfat (Jotapata) and Khirbet Cana (a suggested place where Jesus performed his first miracle).




(b) Shikhin (Asochis)


The newer village of Shikhin was a continuation of Tell Hannathon in the Hellenistic period. The population moved to the new site due to the limited area of the Tell. The new location occupied a larger area, spanning 2-3 hills in the area between Hannathon and Sepphoris.

The photo below was taken from the ruins of this village, on the hills south of Tell Hannathon. The Tell is seen just after the lake (which is part of the national water works project).



This photo was taken towards the south. On the top of the hill is the ancient site of Sepphoris. The village is very close and downhill to Sepphoris, as described in Josephus books. There are few remnants of the ancient hill of Shikhin, since the stones were hauled away to be reused in the building of the monastery in Sepphoris.



Biblical References:


(a) Joshua 19: 10,14


This text described the borders of the Tribe of Zebulun (Zevulun). Note that the valley of Iphtahel, mentioned after Hannathon,  is the valley south of the Tell, which flows into the Zippori creek.


(10) And the third lot came up for the children of Zebulun according to their families; and the border of their inheritance was unto Sarid"


(14) And the border turned about it on the north to Hannathon; and the goings out thereof were at the valley of Iphtahel;



Historical  References:


(a) Josephus Flavius


The historian Josephus Flavius,  the commander of the Jewish revolt, writes about the place (called Asochis, or Shikhin) and tells us it is very close to Sepphoris. From the survey of the hills north-west of Sepphoris, there are two hills close to Tell Hannathon that were the place of this village.


Archaeological  References:



Etymology (behind the name):
  • Hannathon - In Hebrew the root word "Khana" means "parked". Hanathon therefore means the place to stay. Indeed, it was a motel type city.


  • Shichin is from Sichim, or bushes in Hebrew (The fertile area was full of bushes and hence this name).


  • Asochis - The name of the place call be Josefus Flavius, which is a Greek miss-pronunciation of the Hebrew name


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