Horbat Bata: a Village and its Monasteries – a Portrait of a Rural Christian Landscape in Late Antiquity

During the first half of the fifth century CE, new settlements began to appear in Western Galilee. Most were villages, yet there are quite a few indications, following surveys and excavations, that some of those settlements might be identified as monasteries. Previous studies on monasticism in Late Antiquity have overlooked the monasteries in Western Galilee. Due to the lack of literary data and the misinterpretation of archaeological finds, very little – if anything – was known about the monastic backdrop of this region. However, surveys and excavations conducted in the area of the modern city of Karmiel have revealed an unusual setting. At least seven Christian sites are scattered within the city limits, one of which, Horbat Bata, was a fortified village. In a radius of a few kilometers on the hills near and around this village are six compounds that were probably monasteries. The concentration of finds in a small area and the relatively good state of their preservation, together with a comparative study that takes into account nearby monastic landscapes in the Orient, allow us to view Karmiel as a test case for a better understanding of the relations between villages and monasteries in the Late Antique east

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