Monday, 20 February 2017

Givat Barfilia

We had heavy rain last week, but today the skies are almost as blue as they appear in these photos. I actually took them a few months ago when I visited a local beauty spot, but never got round to blogging about this interesting place. Time to put it right!
Givat Barfilia, or the Barfilia Hill, is located between developed neighbourhoods and land zoned for construction in the city of Modi'in. It is a point of attraction for people interested in wildlife and plant life, in nature hikes close to home, and is also a great place to learn about Israel's history, from ancient times to the War of Independence.
The hill is located northwest of Modi'in and rises to an elevation of some 230 metres, offering impressive 360 degree views of the landscape. In the past, there was an Arab village on the hill also named Barfilia. The hill contains remains of ancient settlements – agricultural facilities, cisterns, wine presses, burial caves, stone fences, and more. However, archaeological excavations have yet to be carried out on the hill, leaving much to be discovered.
According to Crusader-era maps, the ancient name of the hill was Porphyria. The name derives from the Latin word "purpura" meaning "purple". In ancient times, the nearby city of Lod and the area surrounding it was a centre of fabric dyeing. It is possible that the various forms of the hill's name preserve a memory of this ancient industry in the area.
Barfilia Hill was settled during the Crusader period, and apparently even beforehand. An ancient road passed north of the hill and is marked on a number of ancient maps under various names.
By 1948, the Arab village of Barfilia numbered 850 people. During the War of Independence, the ancient road mentioned above was used by armoured vehicles of the Jordanian Arab Legion on their way to attack the forces of the Yiftach Brigade at nearby Gimzo. During "Operation Danny", an Israeli military offensive launched to relieve Jerusalem and remove the threat to Tel Aviv, Barfilia was subsequently captured by the Yiftach Brigade.
Ziva Arbel was the brigade's communications officer who stayed at the command post in Barfilia during the war. Arbel had made aliyah (the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel) from Turkey on her own as Ziva Halevi, joined the Palmach elite fighting forces and became a communications officer in the third battalion of the Yiftach Brigade. In 1948 she was famously photographed leaning on a pine tree, lost in thought. She was wearing short khaki shorts, her head wrapped in an Arab keffiyeh, with a pistol on her belt, and a white bandage on her forehead. A few days later Arbel was photographed again, this time while she was sipping water from a clay jug while resting in the village of Barfilia. The photograph became the inspiration for the Israeli poet Avraham Halfi's Hakad ("The Jug"), sung by Shoshana Damari, who was known as the "Queen of Hebrew Music", and later by Shlomo Artzi.
In her book, "The Girl with the Gun", Ziva Arbel wrote about Barfilia Hill: "... and on the outskirts of the city there was a deep cistern with wonderful water, cool and clear. And this was the cistern that provided our drinking water..."
Photo credit: Wikiwand
Barfilia Hill is home to many species including mountain gazelles, foxes, jackals, and porcupines. Various species of snakes, lizards such as chameleons and bridled skink can be found there, as well as dozens of bird species including kestrel and a large array of songbirds.
In the past, there was extensive European bee-eater (shrakrakim) activity at the foot of the hill, on one of its walls currently facing the road. This wall - a low limestone cliff - was named the "Bee-eaters' Wall" because it was full of holes where this migratory bird nested. The wall was sadly abandoned by the birds due to the construction of a road and the placement of streetlights, but their places have been taken by other bird species that use the holes for nesting and shelter, such the little owl (kos hachorvot).
Plant life on the hill includes asparagus, Silver nailroot, wild carrot, Carmel bee-orchid, Blush centaury-thistle, Coolatai grass, and more. The hill also features beautiful orchard trees that attest to past settlement on the hill. These include carob, pomegranate, fig, almond, olive, sabra (prickly pear), Christ’s thorn jujube, Mediterranean medlar, and Mediterranean buckthorn


Tamar SB said...

So pretty! Thanks for linking up!

Prunella Pepperpot said...

Barfilia Hill looks a wonderful place to visit and has some amazing history. Your images are beautiful. I love cactii.
Have a great week :)

Poppy said...

Hi Lisa,

I enjoyed this post about Barfilia Hill. From its location where dying fabrics in ancient times was carried out to Ziva Arbel's adventures during the War of Independence, it is definitely a place that is shaped by intrigue.

Your photos are lovely. Greece shares much of the same vegetation with Israel that you've mentioned here: prickly pear, fig, pomegranate, carob, olive and almond.

Have a wonderful week,

restlessjo said...

This probably isn't the time and I know that there is an enormous amount of 'history' between the 2 nations but I do find the Palestine situation hard to understand, Lisa. It's such a beautiful country. Why build ugly walls? I am grateful that you take the time to come to my blog but I wonder about this every time that I read about your country. Wouldn't peace in the world be a joyful thing, whatever our creed?

krishna said...

its a beautiful hike.. the little history you shared is very nice..

Miss Val's Creations said...

Such a stunning landscape. It is so neat seeing unique plants and flowers that are not found in my region of the world. I am sure it will be interesting to see more excavation of the site!

restlessjo said...

Feel free to delete the comment, Lisa. I'm not normally political either and it was probably an inappropriate comment. Of course I will still visit.

Anonymous said...

These purplish round flowers, or cactus (?) are beautiful! What makes Israel so different in the Middle East is that women experience here such freedom! Even counted more as equals than here in certain areas of the country. Thank you for taking us on your trip to Givat Barfilia, and great I have gotten to know you this first year of ALL SEASONS!

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

What lovely and scenic place to explore. Interesting post and great photos

Sara - Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden) said...

Such a fascinating place and such an interesting flora (and fauna)!
Thank you for the great post! xx

Kay L. Davies said...

I read this with great interest, especially as you said development is going to take over some of this land. I love the story of the bee eaters. The list of plant life is also fascinating. My brother and I picked lots of wild asparagus when we lived in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. We didn't eat it ourselves. We sold it to our mother! Now, however, it is one of my favourite vegetables.
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A local beauty spot for sure, but also a world-heritage treasure, and obviously a wonderful home for wildlife and plants. So much to see and think about it in this one area. Amazing to think of you living near all this.

Aritha said...

I enjoyed your post about this area. Not only the history but what you are telling about the animals is so great! My son wishes to see a bridled skink. That is very special! He loves that sort of animal. I have a blackbird on my blog now. Do you have this one also in Israël? Greetings from here.

VeggieMummy said...

What a fascinating place to have close by. I love all the cacti and those blue skies - oh my. Love your Valentine's card too! xx

Jibberjabberuk said...

What a beautiful place it is now with the wildlife and flowers. You couldn't tell it had such a violent past.

handmade by amalia said...

This was interesting, Lisa. I've never been there. What a beautiful spring we are having this year.