Halutza dates back to 4th century BCE; thought to be home to 8,000 people.

No stone left unturned has taken on a new meaning for archaeologists in Israel, who just discovered a 1,700 year old Greek inscription alluding to the name of the city Elusa, or in Hebrew, Halutza - a city in the Negev desert.

Now the stone was found at a dig at Halutza’s national park, one of the few instances when archeologists found specific evidence of the existence of an ancient city.  And the finding occurred under the supervision of the University of Cologne’s Prof. Michael Heinzelmann who is working with the Israel antiquities authority Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini. Then students from the University of Cologne and the University of Bonn participated in the excavations, as well, which are underwritten by the German-Israeli foundation for scientific research and development.


The excavations are also part of an ongoing three-year project where researchers reconstructed the city’s map and construction efforts. But while this is the first time Halutza’s name surfaced in terms of physical evidence, there are many historical references to the ancient city. For example, the city’s name can be found in the Madaba mosaic map, the Nessana Papyri and other historical documents. Additionally, Haltuza, founded circa 4th century BCE, was strategically located along the incense road between Petra and Gaza. And at its peak during the Byzantine Empire, the city was reportedly even home to upwards of 8000 people.

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