Vertical tabsMonastery name, type, categorySite Name: Tel IraMonastery name: ST. PETERMonastery type: CenobiumMonastery category: Former fortressFormer ruin LocationCoordinates, ITM system: 198,724.00571,276.00 Coordinates, ICS system: 148,720.0071,274.00 Geographical region: Beer Sheba ValleyProvincial affiliation: Palaestina IIIBishopric: EleutheropolisTopographical location: On a hill on the western fringes of the Beer Sheva valley.Soils: LoesDistance from nearest bishop-seat: ca. 40 km (Eleutheropolis)0Distance from Roman roads: ca. 5 km north of the road that led from Beer Sheva to the Dead Sea. Source of knowledgeEpigraphyArchaeological remainsSurveyed siteSurveyors: NameDate Govrin1991 Excavated siteExcavators: NameDate Bet-Arieh1995 Bibliograpy: Govrin, Y., 1991 Figueras, P., 1995401-450 Schick, R., 1995 Beit-Arieh, I., 1999 Cresson, B. C., 199988-96 Ovadiah, A., 1999428-37 Bagatti, B., 2002 Hirschfeld, Y., 200461-88 Abbreviation for Journals and SeriesDiscussion: According to the excavators, the site was an early Byzantine period fort which gave security to the monks who came to settle. The imprecise construction, especially of the chapel, suggests that the builders were not professional ones and it is not unreasonable to assume that it was the monks themselves, who were most likely local, had built and decorated their own monastery. This impression is strengthened by the workmanship of the mosaic pavement, including the inscription. Ovadiah wrote: “The writing lacks proficiency or uniformity…Nevertheless the scribe was familiar with …abbreviations…” (Ovadiah 1999: 435). Of the mosaic itself he wrote: “The decorative motifs plainly testify to the simplest kind of workmanship, utterly unsophisticated and lacking in any sort of craft skill or artistic flair” (Ibid.: 433). State of certainty: Archaeologicaly definitive General descriptionState of preservation/which parts were uncovered: The monastery and its ancillary buildings were concentrated in the eastern part of the site of Tel ‘Ira, constructed over the remains of an earlier fort. Eight of the rooms were exposed completely, others only partially. In all, the complex comprised twelve rooms of various sizes. Illustrative material: Illustrative_material Figures General descriptionEnclosing walls: The rectangular complex was surrounded by a wall that encompassed an area of approximately 800 m2. Gate/s: The entrance to the complex is on the south side with possibly an additional entrance in the northwest of the courtyard. Courtyards: A large courtyard (136 m2), on the western side of the complex is surrounded by rooms. A door leads from the main courtyard into a long room or courtyard (3-3.50 x 13.20 m) paved with large flagstones. A large room (14.75 [N-S]x 5.20 m [E-W]) in front of the church served as an atrium or narthex. Churche/s: The chapel is located in the eastern part of the monastery. It is an almost square room (4 [E-W] x 4.30 m [N-S]) with an external apse. The foundations of an altar were found aligned with the apse (not with the walls). The entire floor was paved in mosaic. Dwellings: A number of rooms are arranged around the central courtyard. These may have been the cells of the monks. Alternately, a large room at the southeastern corner of the complex (only partially unearthed), may have served as a dormitory. Burials: In the second phase, a burial crypt was dug in an area in front of the church which may have served as an atrium or narthex in the first phase. A well preserved, fully articulated human skeleton was found in the burial. Kitchen: A room with three doorways on the west side of the complex was partially excavated. An ash-like substance, a scattering of artifacts on a beaten earth floor, and an oven attest to the use of this area as the kitchen of the complex. Fragments of cooking pots were also found. Water installations: A cistern was located in the center of the western courtyard with a hewn staircase around the inner wall. The cistern has a diameter of 4.75 m., its full depth is not known although 3 meters were cleared. Small findsSmall finds: CategoryDescription Inscription - see under epigraphy PotteryFragments of cooking pots GlassFragments of glass Metal objectsIron knife blade OtherLoom weights BonesA well preserved, fully articulated human skeleton. Detailed descriptionDimensions: Total area (sqm)Size class 800Small StructureMaterials applied (walls): Limestone ComponentsEnclosing wallGate/s: 1Courtyard/sMonastery church: Church typeDiakonikonLink to church sectionChurch location single naveGround floor RefectoryNumber of stories: 1KitchenBaking ovenTombs type: Cist tombWater installations: CisternsWater capacity (minimal) (cubic m): 30 Architectural evolutionPhase 1 Phase 2 Abandonment General outline: The complex was constructed over the ruins of an Iron Age fortress. Foundation was dated by the excavators to the sixth century CE. In the initial phase the complex was constructed as a unit.Dating material: Pottery Phase dateCentury: 6th c. General outline: In the second phase, some structural changes were made, especially in the chapel area, apparently to accommodate the daily requirements of the monks (as described by the excavators). No dating was provided.Phase dateCentury: 6th-7th c. General outline: The monastery was apparently abandoned in an orderly fashion without violence as no signs of destruction or conflagration were discerned. The paucity of finds supports this assertion. Phase dateCentury: 7th c.Within century: First half Post Arab conquest history: AbandonedPost conquest history comments: In the Early Islamic period, after the monastery had been abandoned it was resettled for a short period of time in a domestic capacity after which it was abandoned and never settled again.