Tel Shikmona is a free national park is an ancient Tel by the National Institute of Oceanography in Haifa.
Table of Contents
- 1 Map
- 2 Opening Hours
- 3 Entrance Fee
- 4 National Institute of Oceanography
- 5 Tel Shikmona
- 6 Mosaics
- 7 The Sea and the Jacuzzi
- 8 The Lower City
- 9 Promenade
- 10 Summary
Tel Shikmona is located by the Middeterenean sea in Haifa, a little south of the National Institute of Oceanography. And the easiest way to reach it is by entering its name into Waze.
Interactive map of the area:
- Hotels, hostels, and apartments in this area:
There is free parking on Hubert Humphry Street.
There are no fences and no signs on site. Thus you can visit at any time. But the Tel does not have artificial lighting, so visit only during the day.
National Institute of Oceanography
If you drove through Haifa on road #4, you probably saw the National Institute of Oceanography. This unique building is located on the seashore, along the promenade connecting Hecht park and Bat Galim.
As you can see from the photos, there are picnic tables, benches, and a food truck (offering mostly drinks and ice cream) by the National Institute of Oceanography.
If you continue along the promenade to the south, you will see a dirt trail leading to a small hill on the right shortly after passing the National Institute of Oceanography. Here is a photo of the track:
This trail leads to the top of Tel.
Note: for more information about Tel, see What Does Tel Mean?
Once you climb to the top, you will see the remains. Here are several photos from the top:
Note: as you can see from the photos, there are fences around archeological excavations, and you cannot enter and see mosaics from up close (as people did in previous years).
Several years ago, we visited Israeli National Maritime Museum. And there we saw the beautiful Shikmona Mosaics. Here is its photo:
And I also want to bring background info about Shikmona from Haifa Museums website. Here are the relevant quotes:
About Tel Shikmona
Tel Shikmona, extending over eight dunams, has revealed some very rich archaeological finds, shedding light on the settlement’s ongoing existence from the Late Canaanite era (15th century BCE) up to the Early Muslim era (7th century CE). Some 2100 years of history thus find expression in the wealth of material findings, evidence of trading connections with the Mediterranean lands.
Tel Shikmona (Arabic: Tel a-Samakh; “Hill of the Fishes”) is situated on the coast, approximately 1.3 kilometers southwest of Carmel Point. It was constructed on a shallow, dry stratum of gravel. Geographically, it lies on a rocky stretch of coast that did not allow construction of a port nearby, and the nearest anchorage seems to have been to the south, near Kfar Samir.
The area surrounding the Tel used as the agricultural section of the town. The rivers flowing down the Carmel provided most of the freshwater for the city, and orchards were also planted on those slopes. East of the Tel, on the side of the mountain, is the burial ground, in which 22 burial installations were found, most of them close together. Except for one tomb that pre-dates the others, all are from the Roman-Byzantine period (3rd – 6th centuries CE). The earlier burial is dated to the Middle Canaanite IIB era (1750-1550 BCE). On the outskirts of the Tel, remains of a Byzantine city have also been found.
Late Canaanite Period
The earliest settlement at Shikmona is from the Late Canaanite I era (15th century BCE) and was probably created by the Egyptians, initially as a rearguard for their military base at Beth Shean. Over time, the base was transformed into a civilian settlement. Dwellings and public buildings have been excavated, containing local wares as well as imports from Cyprus and Greece, ivory and faience items, and seals. The archaeological findings from this period indicate lively trading with Greece and Cyprus and the influence of the Egyptian culture.
From the various Israelite periods (12th – 6th centuries BCE), eight layers of the settlement have been excavated. From the era of the Kingdom, remnants of the city wall, parts of oil presses, storage rooms and dwellings, locally made pottery, imported wares, and figurines were discovered.
In the Persian period (6th – 4th centuries BCE), Shikmona was administered by the Phoenician city of Tyre and expanded from a small settlement to a large, well-planned city. A residential quarter has been uncovered, in which were found pottery and stone vessels, weapons, jewelry, and other items. At the close of that era, the city was fortified, and housing was relocated around the base of the Tel.
Hellenistic Era And Roman Period
In the Hellenistic era (4th – 1st centuries BCE) another fortification was constructed at the site, in which the main findings were large storage rooms containing amphorae with Greek seals and other items. During the Roman period (1st century BCE – 4th century CE) a fortress was constructed on the site, which was used during the Jewish Revolt, and of which a few remains are still apparent.
In the Byzantine era (4th – 7th centuries CE) the city mainly covered the area around the Tel. That was where the residential and industrial quarters, public buildings and an industrial installation were found. Many of the buildings were floored with mosaic and were scattered with pottery, bronze, and ivory vessels. The remains of a fire are also evident, witness to the sudden destruction of the site. At the apex of the Tel, the remains of a Byzantine villa destroyed during the Arab conquest in 638 CE were found. Above this were the foundations of a building from the Early Muslim era.
The Sea and the Jacuzzi
This place is located by the sea. And the sea in this area has many pools which kids enjoy exploring. One of the pools has a circular shape. And due to the water movement on windy days, locals call it the jacuzzi.
Researchers are not sure about the usage of the pools. But the leading theory is that it was a purple dye industrial area. A similar site was found in Tel Dor National Park (for more info, see: Purple Dye Industrial Zone).
The Lower City
The south of the Tel, you can see additional remains. The lower city is mainly dated to the Byzantine period.
The remains on the tell date from the Late Bronze Age to the Late Byzantine period. The lower city, east and mainly south of the tell, is dated to the Late Roman period-Byzantine period. No remains have been found dating to the Early Arab period, leading the archaeologists to conclude that Shikmona was abandoned before the 7th century CE.
Recent research suggests that it is not Shikmona, and it is probably Porphyreon.
Research on the Hellenistic to Byzantine periods at Tell es-Samak has focused on the Byzantine period because only scant remains from the Hellenistic and Roman periods were found either on or beyond the tell. The Southern Church was the main thrust of archaeological efforts outside the tell, revealing one of the earliest churches in Israel, dated to the end of the 4th to early 5th centuries CE, and Eisenberg, in his article, discusses the magniﬁcent mosaic carpets that were uncovered, in which major efforts were invested in saving and restoring. This site should apparently not be identiﬁed with Jewish Shikmona, but rather with Christian Porphyreon, as Eisenberg shows in his discussion of the site’s history in the Hellenistic to the Byzantine periods. None of the excavations revealed remains that could be associated with a Jewish population, while remains with Christian attributes were discovered in all areas of the site and contribute to the new identiﬁcation of Porphyreon (South). This identiﬁcationhas in fact been proposed in the past by Leah Di Segni and others, and it is now further validated by the renewed research. For this reason, we were cautious with regard to the name of the site as it appears in the various articles in this volume. Because identiﬁcation of the site in the biblical periods, including the Persian period, remains unknown, it was decided, for the convenience of readers, to call the siteShikmona in the body of the articles. In the articles dealing with the Hellenistic period and later, the new identiﬁcation of the site is used – Porphyreon.
Here are several photos of the lower city:
Since the excavations area is not extensive, you can combine a visit to Tel Shikmona with a walk on a ride along the promenade.
Tel Shikmona is a small hidden gem, but since the visit will be short (0.5 – 1 hour), you can combine it with a walk on the promenade or explore the pools in the sea. And for additional nearby attractions, see Haifa.
Also, if you want to see Shikmona Mosaics, visit the Israeli National Maritime Museum.
Have you ever been to Tel Shikmona? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.