The Jordan Valley: Escorting shepherds – Khalet Makhul

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Akiva (post-doctoral archaeology student), Nurit (photography and reporting) Translation: Naomi Halsted

Things went calmly in the morning. Before we went out to the pasture, we filled the troughs with grains of barley. Y let the flock out of the pens and the sheep ran to the food.

The grazing land is on the hills between Makhul and the Ro’i settlement. The vegetation is already beginning to sprout but it still doesn’t provide enough nourishment for the flock. We’re waiting for the rain to come and soak into the earth. At this time of year, rosettes of chive leaves predominate. The stalks of the flowers will come out towards the spring.

The ground is covered with flintstone. Akiva’s trained eyes recognize beautifully carved flint knives, which he estimates to be from the Neolithic period. They are estimated to date from 10,000 BCE. He says that the Jordan Valley region was densely populated in the Neolithic period, citing Jericho, one of the oldest places of settlement, as an example.

Standing on the hilltop, we overlook the area where a new outpost is being established south of the Hemdat settlement. Another threat to the grazing lands that are already shrinking as the settlers take them over.