The sites that until recently have been referred to as the Golan ‘Enclosures’ were discovered during the emergency survey following the Six Day War. Leviah, Qetzar Bardawill, Sha’abaniyah and others were known in archaeological research as huge corrals for the sheep, goat and cattle of semi nomads that lived on the fringes of the populated country. These ‘enclosures’ were mainly situated at the ends of spurs overlooking the Sea of Galilee and were surrounded on three directions by precipitous slopes that provide natural protection. The side that was connected to the Golan Heights plateau was fortified with thick walls.
The excavations of the Land of Geshur project at Leviah (1987-1997) and Gutman and Syon’s excavations at Gamla have clearly demonstrated that these are not ‘enclosures’ devoid of buildings, rather they are large permanent settlements in which there are buildings and installations. At Gamla the ancient settlement’s city wall was exposed below the city wall that dates to the time of the Second Temple and the remains of a monumental building from the Early Bronze Age II were also uncovered. At Leviah two enormous stone walls were discovered, the outer one being at least 16 m wide in which a straight entrance gate was exposed that was protected by two towers. Inside the settlement more than ten buildings were discovered that were constructed with identical orientation and parallel to the wall. A straight alley, storage facilities and installations for crushing olives were also discovered.
An analysis of the material culture at Leviah raises the possibility that an urban settlement existed there that can be defined as a ‘small town’. This was unlike cities such as Bet Yerah or Yarmuth, but similar to other urban settlements in the Land of Israel.
The Golan is considered a peripheral region located on the urban fringes of the Land of Israel. The urbanization characteristics and settlement patterns in it during the course of the Early Bronze Age corroborate this evaluation. The clearly megalithic characteristics present in the Golan distinguish it from the other regions located west of the Syro-African Rift Valley, inside the Land of Israel.
However, a new study that is in its first stages is likely to shed light on the Golan’s place in the urban system of the northern Land of Israel, particularly during the Early Bronze Age 2. Like the ‘metallic’ ceramic industry of the northern Golan, in the southern and central Golan there was a cooking pot industry whose products were of exceptional quality and were marketed over great distances.
It therefore seems that the geographic location of the Golan on the urban periphery of the Land of Israel in the Early Bronze Age does not exactly match in its importance to the economic, social and political fabric of the urban centers of this period.