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The tumuli field of Ramat haNadiv

Ramat haNadiv is a small nature reserve nestling close to my town, Zichron Yaakov, in the northern-ish part of Israel.

The reserve was established in 1965, and is actually a burial place for the Baron Edmund Rothschild and his wife Ada. The baron supported the early settlers in the area with money and advice from the leading scientists of the day. 

That is also why the park is called Ramat haNadiv, it means more or less 'Benefactor Heights'. The tomb, that you can visit during the weekdays, is surrounded by a beautiful garden.




And this garden is surrounded by a small reserve. Since we live in Israel, the reserve is not just about the local fauna and flora in their natural state. There are also several ancient archeological sites that you can visit.

One of these archaeological sites is the tumuli field at the southern end of the Ramat haNadiv reserve. The singular for tumuli is tumulus which means "a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves." 

So yes, the tumuli field is an ancient burial site.

The tumuli are not arranged tidily in rows in the way that we are used to in modern graveyards. They seem to be haphazardly scattered all over the hills. Apparently there are 40 of these tombs in the area but I personally have only across a few of them.

The tumulus in the photo is the largest that I have seen in the nature reserve. I think that it is because the Israel Trail passes nearby and modern-day hikers take the time to add another rock to the grave. This grave also overlooks the coastal plains and the Mediterranean sea.


The large tumulus that seems undisturbed for thousands of years

The other tumuli that I came across on my hiking (and photographing 😁) adventures in the reserve are on the other side of the Carmel mountains. They still have a beautiful view but do not face the sea. Which makes one wonder - what's the diffs? Why does one grave get the sea view and the others face inland? 

One can probably speculate that the sea-facing grave is the final resting place of an important person or something. But the truth is just that no one really knows.


The rectangular shape of the tumulus is clearly visible in the open grave.

There are some information boards about the tumuli nearby for the curious hiker. These boards mentioned that these graves are from the Early Bronze age which means about 2500 to 2000 BC. 

The tumuli consist of a rectangular burial chamber, surrounded by a circle of flat stones and covered by a heap of soil and rocks. The tumuli that were excavated showed that they contained one adult, sometimes buried together with a child and one artifact. The archeologists think that the graves belonged to a group of shepherds who lived in the area.
The early Early Bronze age is really waaay back in time but that does not really surprise me. Even Neanderthals used to live in nearby caves in these same Carmel mountains. It makes sense that later on there was also a settlement of people, probably Canaanites, who lived on these mountains that overlook the sea on the one side and have an amazing vantage point inland on the other side.

I find a kind of poetic synchronicity in the fact that ancient shepherds and a modern-day billionaire banker have found their final resting on the same mountain range. The Baron' grave attracts visitors from all over the world while only us locals know about the graves in the tumuli field. 

Their bodies have however all become part of the same earth. And I am sure that their souls are happy with the beautiful place their loved ones have buried them.

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