Tell Balatah
(Shechem or Ancient Nablus)
NABLUS, WEST BANK, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES


Located just east of the modern West Bank town of Nablus, Tell Balatah has long been associated with the ancient city of Shechem, mentioned throughout the Bible and in numerous Egyptian documents. An influential commercial center, the city prospered from trade in locally produced grapes, olives, wheat, and livestock from the Middle Bronze Age into the Late Hellenistic Period (ca. 1900–100 B.C.). Archaeological excavations have revealed that the city was destroyed and rebuilt 22 times until its final destruction in the second century B.C. Among the city’s visible remains are a series of defensive walls and gates, a palace or governor’s house, a residential quarter, as well as fortified Canaanite temple and a portion of a temple to Zeus commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the second century B.C.

In addition to continued political unrest in the West Bank, the main threats to the site are lack of conservation and maintenance due to a paucity of funds, as well as vandalism and encroachment of agricultural fields and urban development. Heavy rains have taken their toll on the mudbrick architecture.

Despite listing in 2004, the site remains at risk and is in desperate need of funds to carry out emergency conservation on even the most basic level. In the longer term, the site will need a management and conservation plan, a public awareness campaign, and a comprehensive documentation of finds recovered during excavation.