Tefen History

    The Tefen strip runs between Beit Kerem Valley to the east and the Maalot area to the north, Pekiin Valley to the east and Druze villages to the west. The remains of an ancient fort known in Arabic as Kalaat Tufania may be found in the center of the region. The origin of this name is unclear, but following the Tufania sound, the government naming commission gave this region the name Tefen.

     

    The name Tefen appears in a list of cities occupied by Egypt's Pharaohs, and some researchers have tried to identify Tefen with Kalaat Tufania. Today, all researchers agree that the name Tefen in the Egyptian scriptures is related to an important town of Tavnin in southern Lebanon. But even without a name relationship, the Tefen strip has an interesting history.

     

    Following an archeological survey in the area in 1978, it was discovered that the region was settled in the biblical period and perhaps earlier. This region was a border between the Asher tribe to the west and the Naftali tribe to the east. The lack of settlement in these periods is related to the geological and hydrological character of the region. No single building was found throughout the strip. Rocks cover most of the terrain, so the place was not settled for generations.

     

    In the Hellenistic age ( 2nd and 3rd centuries C.E.), a fortress was built in the area, which was probably intended to defend the rear of the most important town in the north – Acre. This fortress likely fell to the Jews when they spread into Galilee during the days of King Alexander Yanai. Only in the Byzantine age (4th to 7th centuries C.E.) was there a breakthrough in settlement in the region. Due to the population explosion in the more habitable parts of the country, residents were also displaced to the harsher regions. These received encouragement and support from the Christian authorities with the aim of displacing the Jews who resided in eastern Galilee. In the Tefen area, five settlements were formed during this period. Their residents dug water holes and reservoirs, overcoming the lack of springs. They removed rocks and built terraces and planted olive groves and vineyards. The destruction of this settlement followed the Persian and Arab invasions during the seventh century C.E.

     

    Wine presses, olive presses, excavated tombs, remains of churches and monasteries were found among the ruins of ancient Christian villages of the Tefen strip. Two major excavations are emphasized in the ruins of Katzir. R. Frankel uncovered an impressive group of olive presses that probably belonged to a monastery. This large quantity attests to the main export of the Tefen strip in ancient times. Impressive remains of a special church were found in the ruins of Heshek. This church was well preserved, and during excavations almost all the architectural parts of the building were found, which provides a basis for future restorations of the site. Included are a complete mosaic floor and five inscriptions in Greek mentioning the builders of the church and the date of its construction in 518 C.E.

     

    After the Byzantine age the region was again neglected until the 1980s. It's interesting to note that in both the Byzantine age and today, there was a great movement in settling the area. Consequently, large efforts and sums were invested in its development

     

    The Tefen strip runsbetween Beit Kerem Valley to the east and the Maalot area to the north, Pekiin Valley to the east and Druze villages to the west. The remains ofan ancient fort known in Arabic as Kalaat Tufania may be found in thecenter of the region. The origin of this name is unclear, but followingthe Tufania sound, the government naming commission gave this region thename Tefen.

    The name Tefenappears in a list of cities occupied by Egypt's Pharaohs, and someresearchers have tried to identify Tefen with Kalaat Tufania. Today, allresearchers agree that the name Tefen in the Egyptian scriptures isrelated to an important town of Tavnin in southern Lebanon. But evenwithout a name relationship, the Tefen strip has an interesting history.

    Following anarcheological survey in the area in 1978, it was discovered that theregion was settled in the biblical period and perhaps earlier. Thisregion was a border between the Asher tribe to the west and the Naftalitribe to the east. The lack of settlement in these periods is related tothe geological and hydrological character of the region. No singlebuilding was found throughout the strip. Rocks cover most of theterrain, so the place was not settled for generations.

    In the Hellenisticage ( 2nd and 3rd centuries C.E.), a fortress was built in the area, which was probably intended to defend the rear of the most importanttown in the north – Acre. This fortress likely fell to the Jews whenthey spread into Galilee during the days of King Alexander Yanai. Onlyin the Byzantine age (4th to 7th centuries C.E.) was there abreakthrough in settlement in the region. Due to the populationexplosion in the more habitable parts of the country, residents werealso displaced to the harsher regions. These received encouragement andsupport from the Christian authorities with the aim of displacing theJews who resided in eastern Galilee. In the Tefen area, five settlementswere formed during this period. Their residents dug water holes andreservoirs, overcoming the lack of springs. They removed rocks and builtterraces and planted olive groves and vineyards. The destruction ofthis settlement followed the Persian and Arab invasions during theseventh century C.E.

    Wine presses, olivepresses, excavated tombs, remains of churches and monasteries were foundamong the ruins of ancient Christian villages of the Tefen strip. Twomajor excavations are emphasized in the ruins of Katzir. R. Frankeluncovered an impressive group of olive presses that probably belonged toa monastery. This large quantity attests to the main export of theTefen strip in ancient times. Impressive remains of a special churchwere found in the ruins of Heshek. This church was well preserved, andduring excavations almost all the architectural parts of the buildingwere found, which provides a basis for future restorations of the site. Included are a complete mosaic floor and five inscriptions in Greekmentioning the builders of the church and the date of its constructionin 518 C.E.

    After the Byzantineage the region was again neglected until the 1980s. It's interesting tonote that in both the Byzantine age and today, there was a greatmovement in settling the area. Consequently, large efforts and sums wereinvested in its development

    המועצה המקומית התעשייתית מגדל תפן | כתובת: גן התעשייה מבנה 10, מגדל תפן 2495900 | טל': 04-9079000 | מייל: info@tefen.org.il