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The BELVOIR Hospitaller Castle – Israel – n°2

Revival of a site

A proposito del progetto

Belvoir is a major site in the Latin East, one of the most important castles built by the Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem in the second half of the 11th century. 

The Castle of BELVOIR (Kokhav ha-Yarden), also known as the “star of the winds”, is located  in the north of Israel about fifteen kilometers south of the Sea of ​​Galilee and overlooks the Jordan Valley. The fortification defended lands controlled by Frankish Christians. Since 2013, a Franco-Israeli team has  begun a new study of the castle associating, in an innovative multidisciplinary work, archaeologists,  historians, architects, art historians, topographers, geologists and stonemasons. An original working methodology based on the use of new tools such as photogrammetry has been developed.

This archaeological research completes the two major excavation campaigns conducted by two Israeli archaeologists: 

N. Tzori and Ben Dov in 1963 and 1966.

The objective of this mission is to restore the history of this major site, considered by some authors as a model of hospitaller order castles, which successively witnessed the presence of francs, ayyubids and mamelukes.

A cosa serviranno i fondi ?



The objectives of this year are:

Restitution of the chapel continuation of the work on the lapidary

Prospecting around the castle in search of villages

Studying of the baths of the castle and especially the heating system

Archeology of buildings: study of the outer enclosure and the castle moats

Descent into the cistern to carry out the analysis

The previous missions aimed to resume the study of the site, with additional excavations and an archaeological study of buildings. They allowed to find the origins of the castle and to trace its history through the centuries. A new plan of the castle has been drawn up and new photogrammetric elevations records can now provide support to analyse and propose a restitution of the successive states of the fortification.

Today, for the 2018 mission, we would like to accelerate the field work and contribute more effectively to the exploitation of results towards the international scientific community, but also to the general public with the on-site reconstruction of elements today destroyed, in particular the castle chapel.

Restitution of the chapel with the continuation of the work on the lapidary

The work done during previous campaigns allowed us to propose a first 3D reconstruction of the elevation of the chapel.

This year, some blocks still remain to be studied. These are remarkable blocks that have been deposited in the reserves of Beth Shemesh and that are also exposed to public in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Part of the team will study these elements in order to complete the restitution.

A first restitution after the work carried last year

Survey around the castle

Part of the team make a global survey around the castle. As part of this survey, we will look for traces that can attest the existence of one or several villages in the time protected by the castle and probably related to economic and agricultural activities.

Studying of the baths of the castle and especially the heating system (ovens)

Initiated last year, the excavation of the baths of the castle of Belvoir has already brought some elements of interpretation. Nevertheless, the work is not yet finished.

This year, we will pay particular attention to the facilities used to heat the waters of the baths.

Archeology of buildings: study of the outer enclosure and the castle moats

During the previous campaigns, the central courtyard and the interior of the castle have been studied very precisely. This year, we are attacking the outer enclosure. An important work still has to be carried out in the moats, the construction technique of the ramparts, the various posterns (stairs leading from the castle to the moat), etc.

Postern (view from inside the castle) 

Postern (external view)

Electromagnetic search of metal staples
used to seal the stones together and to reinforce the resistance of the structure

Descent and exploration of the cistern

Last year, we were able to study the upper part of the cistern located in the inner courtyard of the castle. We realized, with the help of a pole and a camera, measurements of the internal structure.

This year, our topographer / speleologist will go down to confirm the measurements we have made and to study the cone of dejection (the filling of the cistern).

Central courtyard cistern - zenith view

Central courtyard cistern - Interior sections

A proposito del progettista

An international multidisciplinary team including archaeologists, historians, architects, art historians, topographers, geologists and stonemasons, students and volunteers.

The promoters of the project

Institutions:  The Ministery of Foreign Affairs (France), Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), French Research Centre of Jerusalem (CRFJ), University Lyon 2, UMR 5138 (Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée), UMR 5648 (Institut des Sciences de l’Homme).

2018 mission participants under the direction of Anne Baud (lecturer / Maître de Conférences University Lyon 2 UMR 5138) &  Jean-Michel Poisson, (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, UMR 5648).

Members of the mission:

Hervé Haim Barbé, Engineer / SRA Centre-Val-de-Loire

Loïc Benoit, PhD student, University Lyon2

Anna Josephsson, communication

Thierry Gonon, Topographer, Evéha

Simon Dorso, PhD student, University Lyon2 UMR 5648

Mathilde Duriez, PhD student, University Lyon2 UMR 5138

Anne Flammin, Engineer CNRS, UMR 5138

Olivier Guyotat, Architect DPLG  Lyon

Robert Kool Archaeologist, Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel

Amélie Roger, PhD student, University Lyon 2 UMR5138

Vardit Shotten-Hallel, architect Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel

Paul François, Architect & Engineer, France

Our website

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This crowdfunding project is supported by Association des amis de la Maison de l'Orient, in Lyon (France). It is a non-profit association founded in 1989 by Jean Pouilloux. The association aims to promote, toward a large public, the research work.