The Granary at Bet Yerah is one of the largest (1200 sq m) and more
enigmatic structures of the third millennium BC Levant. It is located near the highest
part of the mound, in what may have been an acropolis of the ruling elite. First
excavated in rudimentary fashion in the 1940s, the building has been generally
interpreted as a central granary. Such institutions were the backbone of the staple
economies of the ancient Near East, serving both as a central bank and as a major
credit institution. They therefore signify an important stage in the emergence of the
first cities in the Levant as centres of economic power.
The structure was built of massive stone foundations into which seven
stone-lined circles, 89 m in diameter, were sunk.
These circles may have been intended to serve as silos, with a total capacity of hundreds of tons of grain
The platforms with the presumed
granaries surrounded an inner courtyard and a hall, possibly a shrine. After serving its
original purpose for a short while, the structure underwent repairs and renovations and seems
to have been handed over to small-time craftspersons.
Recent excavations suggest that soon after the completion of the massive foundation, and perhaps before the structure was ever completed, the building was altered and used for small crafts and cereal processing. The large plaza to its north was used as a dump for craft and cooking waste. All of these activities appear to be associated with the arrival of people who made and used Khirbet Kerak Ware.
Many reconstructions have been proposed for the structure, most based on
the perfunctory publications available before 2006.
Our research has produced a corrected plan of the structure, and indicates that the original aim of the construction of the building may never have been realized. In any case, no traces remain that could indicate its original function.