The discovery of the site in the 19th century and its identification:

Tel Batash is an archaeological site that was discovered in 1871 by French archaeologist Charles Clermont-Ganneau during his search for the city of Gezer. The site was originally identified as a Roman or Byzantine military camp, but some 70 years later archaeologist Binyamin Mazar discovered older ruins at the site and suggested identifying it with the biblical city of Ekron. In 1956 Ekron was identified with Khirbet al-Muqanna (later, the discovery of the ‘Achish, King of Ekron’ inscription verified this identification), and so Tel Batash came to be identified with biblical Timnath. This identification is based on the verses in Joshua 15:10-11, which state that Timnath lies between Beit Shemesh and Ekron. Tel Batash is the only relevant tel in the area, other than Khirbet al-Muqanna. The name ‘Timnath’ was probably preserved in the nearby, albeit later site, Khirbet Tibnah.

History of the research:

 The tel lies near Nahal Soreq, not far from the town of Tal Shahar and covers an area of about 10 dunams. The top of the tel is concave, and for this reason it was suggested that the tel was originally smaller and during the Middle Bronze Age (mid-18th century-early 16th century BCE) earthen batteries were constructed around the tel to strengthen it. The site was excavated by an expedition led by Amihai Mazar and George Kelm in 1977-1989. The excavation findings reveal that the site was active from the Middle Bronze IIb (mid-18th century BCE) to the second half of the Persian period (5th-4th centuries BCE).

The Canaanite period and the rule of Egypt (the Bronze Age)

During the excavations, fortifications from the Middle Bronze Age (MBA) were discovered, included the remnants of a fortress and dirt batteries intended to thicken the tel. Several Egyptian scarabs were found as well. The city developed more during the Late Bronze Age. During that period the city did not have a wall. The outer ring of houses had thicker walls and seemed to have served as a kind of fortification. Several larger buildings were discovered as well; perhaps they served as storage houses and various administrative buildings. Several scarabs and stamps were also found. Taken together, these findings show that the site was likely controlled by the Egyptians during this period.

Philistine control of the site:

From the onset of the Iron Age A (12th-11th centuries BCE) a Philistine settlement at Tel Batash can be identified. This settlement is reflected in the building of a city wall, Philistine pottery that was in use at the site, an Aegean-style figurine head, and a rise in the consumption of pigs.

Judahite control of the site:

The Philistine control of the site likely continued until the start of the Iron Age IIa (end of the 11th century-beginning of the 10th century BCE), but circa the days of the United Monarchy (beginning of the 10th century BCE according to the ‘High Chronology’), the site came to be controlled by the Israelite administration. During that period, the city wall disappeared and the outer houses were once again used as fortifications. However, the site did have a city gate similar to other Israelite gates at sites such as Lachish and Megiddo. During the 8th century BCE, the city wall was rebuilt. At the time, the site was under Judahite rule, identified by, among other things, the appearance of ‘LMLK’ jars along with a many other types of Judahite pottery vessels. Several Judahite weights (‘Pim’, ‘Gerah’ and ‘Shekel’) were found as well. It is likely that during that period some 500-1000 people lived at the site.

During the last third of the Iron Age II (7th century BCE), a citadel was built at the site. A number of ‘pillared houses’ found at the site were dated to that period, along with several oil presses which reflect the development of the site’s oil industry. An Egyptian bulla and scarab, and a Phoenician-style amulet indicate that the site had ties with Egypt and Phoenicia during that period.

The Babylonian and Hellenistic periods at the site:

Tel Batash, like Khirbet al-Muqanna, was destroyed by fire during the Babylonian period (end of 7th century-mid 6th century BCE), likely circa 605 BCE. The site was resettled in a reduced manner during the second half of the Persian period (5th-4th centuries BCE), and a few pottery vessels known from that period at other sites around the Shephelah and the Coastal Plain were found at the site. Excavators found a few pottery vessels from the mid-Hellenistic period (end of 3rd century-mid-2nd century BCE), but a settlement stratum of that period was not discovered.


A. Mazar, ‘Timnah (Tel Batash) I: Stratigraphy and Architecture Text’, Qedem 37 (1997), pp. 1-269

A. Mazar and N. Panitz-Cohen, ‘Timnah (Tel Batash) II: Finds from the First Millennium BCE-Text (2001)’, Qedem 42 (2001), pp. 1-306

Y. Meitlis, ‘The Oil Industry in Judah during the Iron Age’, Al Atar 13-14 (2006), pp. 7-44 [Hebrew]

N. Panitz-Cohen and A. Mazar, ‘Timnah (Tel Batash) III: The Finds from the Second Millennium BCE’, Qedem 45 (2006), pp. 1-502