An interesting day today. We started out at 6:30am full of enthusiasm. As we approached the turn-off into the site of Omrit we met with a locked gate. It was a newish gate but it had never been closed before. The gate was where our kibbutz land starts (the site is also on kibbutz land) and its purpose, we found out, is to prevent poachers from stealing the kibbutz's cattle. And the gate was put up by "The Cowboy", as he's know by Omritians. The Cowboy supervises the cattle, and he locks the gate at night. We were just too early.
We later got a key but for now the morning was disrupted, so off we went on an alternate route. Let me briefly explain the geography. Omrit stands on a western foothill of the Golan Heights. As does the kibbutz which is 3 or 4 miles south. These foothills overlook the Hula Valley. The main road is in the valley but we went up to a back road from the kibbutz to Omrit in the foothills and it runs a little higher than the valley road. Here is a photo as we approach the site (in white stone, center left) on that road.
In the background you can see a higher and dominating foothill, Tel Azaziat. In 1967 there was a Syrian bunker (a fort really) on the top of that hill - where the trees are now. (Zoom your browser for a good view.) During the 1967 war, when the Israelis decided to attack the Golan, this bunker was one of the first places attacked by the Golani Brigade of the Israel Defence Forces.
As we approached the site we decided instead to go on the memorial on top, that, suprisingly, the Omrit veterans in the truck never had visited. The memorial is basically the ruins of the large bunker, which was captured in a matter of hours on June 9, 1967.
From the top there are magnificent views of Omrit and the Hula Valley and we had a good view of the geography of the area we had walked the previous day.
This back road that we took to the site and Tel Azaziat is an ancient road, dating back at least to the Romans.
Indeed, this quite elegant bridge, over which our road crosses, may be Hellenistic and predate the Romans, though it has been reinforced many times since.
Quite an adventure before breakfast and enough for the blog today.
An unofficial blog on the archaeological excavation at Horbat Omrit, northern Israel. 22 May to 22 June 2010.