Tel Yoqneam, nestled between Yokneam Illit and the village of Yoqneam near the Jezreel Valley, serves as a southern gateway to Mount Carmel. Positioned adjacent to an ancient route linking the Via Maris with the road to Tyre, the mound spans approximately 40 dunams and elevates 60 meters above sea level. From the Chalcolithic to the Mamluk era, it hosts a trove of archaeological remnants. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, Yokneam likely held significance. However, in later periods, its name underwent transformations, appearing as ‘Kaimon’ and ‘Kamona’ due to linguistic shifts.

מאת Hanay, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Yoqneam, referenced as ‘Ein Kanaam’ in Thutmose III’s conquest records from the 15th century BCE, also finds mention in Joshua’s conquest narrative: “the king of Yoqneam in Carmel – one” (Joshua 12:22). Subsequently, the city was allotted to the tribe of Zebulun, as detailed in Joshua 19:11: “Their border went west to Maralah, touched Dabbesheth, and extended to the brook east of Yoqneam.” It held status as a Levitical city within the territory of Zebulun.

In later eras, the Hebrew designation of the city underwent alterations. Eusebius of Caesarea, in the 4th century CE, recorded it as ‘Kamona’, while following the Muslim conquest in the 7th century CE, it became known as ‘Kaimon’. During the Crusader epoch, it adopted the appellation ‘Cainmont’ (Mount Cain), with the belief that it was the site of Cain’s slaying by Lamech. Subsequently, Arabic sources frequently referred to it as ‘Kaimon’.

Research history

Tel Yoqneam was surveyed as part of the British survey of Western Palestine in the late 19th century by Conder and Kitchener, and in the 1970s by Avner Raban as part of the Israel Survey. The tel was excavated between 1977 and 1989 by a delegation from the Hebrew University under the direction of Professor Amnon Ben-Tor. In 1993, Miriam Avissar from the Antiquities Authority excavated the acropolis of the tel. Twenty-seven layers were exposed at the tel. The earliest pottery found is attributed to the Chalcolithic period and the Early Bronze Age.

Bronze Age

During the Early Bronze Age III period, pottery vessels from the Khirbet Kerak Ware were found at Tel Yoqneam, which, according to Professor Ruth Amiran, indicate the entry of peoples from the Caucasus region into Canaan. It is likely that there were also remnants of settlements from earlier periods that were destroyed by settlers from later periods.

The earliest remnants of settlement at Tel Yoqneam date back to the Middle Bronze Age. Among the findings from this period, researchers discovered a burial cave and artifacts. In the tomb, the remains of a couple and a five-year-old child were found, accompanied by numerous burial offerings. Additionally, an Egyptian scarab from the reign of Amenemhat III (1853-1808 BCE) was found at the site. The transition from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age is characterized by a clear destruction layer, which Professor Amnon Ben-Tor attributes to the conquest of Thutmose III in the mid-15th century BCE.

During the Late Bronze Age, Tel Yoqneam was a large settlement without walls. From this period, pottery shards were found at the site, including the skeletons of children beneath the floor of a dwelling. Later in the Late Bronze Age, a significant quantity of imported pottery from Cyprus and Egypt was evident in the findings. The Late Bronze Age II period concluded with a destruction event dated by Professor Ben-Tor to the 13th century BCE, marking the end of the Canaanite settlement era at Tel Yoqneam.

Kingdom of Israel and Assyrian rule

The next stage of settlement at the site is in the Iron Age I. From this period, numerous residential buildings and artifacts related to olive oil production were found. Additionally, ten bellows pipes were discovered, indicating metalworking activity at the site. In the latter part of this period, around the middle of the 9th century BCE, the city expanded and became densely populated. Findings testify to impressive craftsmanship, enclosing walls, and the development of a water system. Some of the houses were built on the ruins from the Bronze Age period.

Between Iron Age 1-2, a layer of destruction was found. Ben-Tor suggests that this destruction was caused by King David’s conquests. The settlement was renewed in Iron Age 2, estimated to be a city in the Kingdom of Israel, characterized by substantial, planned, and fortified settlement. The city’s features include a front gate and likely a tower. This area lay in the buffer zone between the Kingdom of Israel and the territories controlled by the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. The city was captured as part of the Assyrian conquest campaign of Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 BCE. Findings from the 7th-6th centuries BCE, after this conquest, indicate relatively sparse settlement, without walls or structures.

Persian and Classical periods

Finds from the Persian period were found throughout the site, most of them damaged by layers of Crusader and Islamic settlements. This settlement did not have a wall, and several structures were uncovered, including a well-stocked storage room with storage jars. In another building, cooking pots and grinding bowls were found. Another structure was built using the Phoenician construction method known from other northern sites such as Acre, Tel Abu Hawam, Tel Mevorakh, and Tel Dor. Researchers suggested that the destruction in the Persian period resulted from conflicts between the Egyptians and Persians around 380 BCE. One of the notable finds from this period is an ostracon containing names of Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Persians, discovered during the 1977 excavation season.

During the Hellenistic period, a watchtower and a relatively small settlement were identified at the site. According to Miriam Avishar and the pottery finds at the site, the Hellenistic settlement began in the 3rd century BCE and continued throughout the 2nd century BCE. From the Late Roman and Byzantine periods, pottery was found, along with a church from the 7th century CE.

Remains of the Crusader-Islamic settlement and the church on the acropolis

Islamic and Crusader periods

The significance and centrality of Tel Yoqneam in later periods can be gleaned both from the impressive construction of a church and subsequently a prominent Muslim fortress, as well as from the relatively numerous historical mentions of the site. During the 8th to 9th centuries CE, there was a Muslim settlement at the site. The Crusaders, who identified ‘Kaimon’ with Mount Cain, built a fortified city here, complete with a church (dating back to the 12th century CE) constructed upon the ruins of the Byzantine church.

During the 13th century CE, the site transitioned from Muslim to Crusader hands and back again. In the 14th century CE, during the Mamluk period, evidence of a Muslim settlement was found, which persisted into the Ottoman period. In the 18th century CE, a large fortress was constructed at the site, the remnants of which stand today.


Miriam Avissar, Eliot Braun, Gerald Finkielsztejn, Yael Gorin-Rosen and Robert Kool. 2005. Tell Yoqne’am. Excavations on the Acropolis. Israel Antiquities Authority.

Amnon Ben-Tor, Doron Ben-Ami and Ariella Livneh. 2005. YOQNE’AM III: THE MIDDLE AND LATE BRONZE AGES—Final Report of the Archaeological Excavations (1977–1988). Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

A. BEN-TOR, Y. PORTUGALI and Miriam Avissar. 1996. YOQNE’AM I: THE LATE PERIODS. Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Biblical Hiking map