Hundreds of dolmens have been found
in the Golan Heights. Used for burial in the basalt areas where grave
digging is difficult, dolmens were used for burial during both the Early
Bronze I and Intermediate Bronze periods. The dolmen was most likely
intended as a burial chamber for the chief of a clan, or another member
of the nomadic elite. A dolmen is constructed of two large vertical
stone slabs capped by a horizontal stone, which can weigh up to 30 tons.
Known in Arabic as Subebe (from the Crusader name L’Asibebe), this English
name for the castle mistakenly associates it with Nimrod, an ancient figure
of great strength mentioned in Genesis 10:8-9. This is one of the castles
that was built by the Muslims, but it changed hands several times in the
12th century. The fortress was strengthened in the 13th century and most
remains visible today are from that period. The mountain is over 400 m
(1,300 ft) long, and in places its width reaches 150 m (490 ft). The summit
rises to an elevation of 800 m (2,600 ft) above sea level. The castle is
also known as the Citadel of the Mosquitoes since swarms tend to rise up at
times and cover the entire area.
The Golan Heights belonged to the country of Syria until 1967. During
the Six Day War, Israel took this high ground overlooking the Huleh Basin
and Sea of Galilee. Today evidence of Syrian habitation, including
military bases and mosques (right) lie in ruins throughout the area.
The region is now populated by Druze (who there before the war) and
Israelis who have moved in since the war. Syria insists on the return
of the Golan Heights as part of any peace agreement.
Rogem Hiri (in Arabic, Rujm al-Hiri)
is located in the Golan Heights about 10 miles (16 km) east of the Sea
of Galilee. Four concentric circles surround a central cairn. The
largest circle measures 150 m (490 ft) in diameter. The walls measure up
to 3.5 m (11.5 ft) in width and have been preserved up to 2.5 m (8 ft)
high. Its last use was no later than the Late Bronze Age (1500-1200
B.C.). The function of Rogem Hiri is not known. Suggestions include that
it was a defensive complex, a burial complex, an astronomical
observation center, or the tomb of Og, giant king of Bashan (Deut 3:11).
The Golan is a basalt plateau which
rises in the northeast to an average altitude of 900 m (3,000 ft) above
sea level. The Golan Heights is bordered by Mt. Hermon on the north and
the Yarmuk River on the south. At the northeastern corner is an inactive
chain of volcanic cones. Their activities in the past created thick
basalt layers, resulting in rocky terrain unsuitable for intensive
agriculture. Instead, it is used mainly for grazing and pasture. The
situation of the Golan Heights results in a significant amount of winter
rainfall, with large run-off in the spring through numerous wadis
draining to the Huleh Basin and the Sea of Galilee.
Mount Hermon is the southern tip of the anti-Lebanon
mountain range. The highest peak of Mount Hermon is 9,230 ft. The
highest point inside Israel's borders today is Mizpe Shelagim, the “snow
observatory,” at 7,295 ft. In the Bible it is known as Ba’al Hermon,
Sirion, and Sion. Psalm 133 gives an image of the pleasantness and
fruitfulness of this mountain. It speaks of the bounty of water, a place
that receives much precipitation. Hermon, on average, gets 60 inches of
precipitation a year (in 1992 it received 100 in). It is quite
possible that the Transfiguration took place somewhere on the slopes of
Mount Hermon, as Jesus and his disciples were previously noted to be in the
“region of Caesarea Philippi.” Caesarea Philippi sits at the base of Mount
Hermon and thus Mount Hermon could be the mountain where Jesus took the
The Golan Heights (Jewish Virtual Library) Describes the region's
geology, geography, and history, including the events of the last century
and the situation today. This site also offers a map of the region
UNDOF (United Nations) Provides information about the United Nations
Disengagement Observer Force that maintains the area of separation between
Israel and Syria.
Nimrod Fortress National Park (Israel Nature & National Parks Protection
Authority) Gives general information on the site, including some of its
history and tips on visiting.
The Nimrod Fortress (Jewish Virtual Library) A detailed description of
the fortress and its history.
Nimrod Fortress (Jewish Mag) A set of photographs highlighting various aspects of the fortress.
Hippos Excavation Project Official site of the Hippos-Sussita
excavation. Provides information about the excavation and some excavation
reports. Also contains a picture gallery located
Hippos (Sussita) 2003 Photo Gallery (The Bible and Interpretation)
Displays pictures and plans from the Hippos excavations. This website also
offers excavation reports on these excavations. The most recent one is