Ein Gedi Secret Factory

Metzudot Arugot

Going approximately 300 meters uphill from the excavation of Ein Gedi we arrived at a massive construction surrounded by arid hills.  Originally it was covered with debris. In the Byzantine period it was surrounded by green terraces constructed on the hillsides.

A sophisticated water system, including storage pools and a network of irrigation channels were developed. It is possible to see the aquifer on the upper top of the hill, a discontinuous, green horizontal line where some perpendicular patches of green go off downwards from it. The construction is believed to have been a fortress defending the terraces surrounding it. Last year, 2003, it was excavated.

The fortress is a massive building with an inner and an outer wall.  The outer wall is massive and thicker than the inner one. This provided greater protection against invaders. Behind the building, there is a deep cavity, a pool extending beneath the building from the outside to an inside larger pool.

The outside wall has an arch covering the outside pool. This arch was used to protect the pool from the possibility of the wall’s collapsing on it. The construction of the fortress had two/three floors and was plastered in white.  The building blocks or stones were held together with this white plaster. From the distance it gave a massive, imposing appearance. The entrance on the side of the building had a gate leading to two porches.  The porch further from the building was probably without a roof, and remains of fire were found inside one of the corners closer to the building.  The inner porch probably was roofed.

Inside the entrance to the building there is a big rolling stone on the left. The stone could be rolled over the entrance of the door, blocking it.  It was only accessible from the inside. On the left wall, there is a small window for communication to approve or reject entrance into the fortress.   The windows in the building had bars.

The possible use of the outer pool might have been for the farmers to place the pruned branches on it. Once these branches flowed into the inner pool, they were treated by a few selected persons who knew the secret of the production of the essence.  The branches had to be soaked in oil, and the essence floated up.  This might have been the factory where the extraction of the “secret essence, “the aparsemon, was done secretly, behind doors.