Korazim National Park
The ancient Jewish town of Korazim is a 10-minute drive from Amiad Junction. It is not a popular tourist site, although its ruins are of interest because of its synagogue and restored dwellings. The town dates from the 1st century CE, although most of the ruins one sees are from the time of the Mishnah and Talmud in the Roman and Byzantine periods. A short gravel footpath has been constructed around the town and makes for a very pleasant walk before visiting the buildings. It also provides impressive views of the Sea of Galilee. Korazim is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the places cursed by Jesus, together with Copernaum and Bethsaida, for rejecting his message (Mathew 11:20-24 and Luke 10:13-15).
Korazim is located at the edge of a basalt hill on the Korazim Plateau. This is an area of volcanic rock bounded to the north by the Hula Valley, to the south by the Sea of Galilee, to the west by Mount Canaan, and to the east by the Jordan River. You will notice that all the buildings are constructed from dark basalt stone. This volcanic rock once impeded the flow of the Jordan River and was responsible for the formation of Lake Hula and the wetlands north of it.
The town was first settled by Jews in the 1st century, and it expanded in the 3rd to 6th century with migration of Jews to the Galilee. It was partially destroyed during the 4th century, probably due to a severe earthquake, but was rebuilt. There was also a period of Jewish growth in the Islamic period in the 8th century and again in the 13th century and 15th centuries. A Bedouin tribe lived here prior to the 1948 War of Independence.
VISITING THE PARK
Directions: Enter “Korazim” into Waze.
Admission: This is a site of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Hours are Sunday to Thursday and Saturday: 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and Friday and holiday eves 8.00 am to 4.00 pm. In the winter, closing hours are 1 hour earlier. Their telephone number is 04 693-4982. There is a store for drinks and snacks. A brochure is available in English with a map. This is their website.
An olive presss
HOW DID THE PEOPLE SUPPORT THEMSELVES HERE?
The ground around Korazim is quite rocky and resembles the Golan, which is not surprising since both are formed from volcanic rock. Because of its location, its rainfall is also somewhat low at 400 mm/year. Nevertheless, from the agricultural machinery seen here, its inhabitants were clearly involved in agriculture. The superior quality of the wheat grown here is even mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (Menahot 85a). There is a mill for grinding wheat just inside the entrance to the village. Growing wheat would therefore seem to have been an important agricultural enterprise here. There are also olive presses on the site. One is reconstructed at the edge of its western quarter and another is in a reconstructed building. Hence, the answer to the question is agriculture.
The village had sources of water. There is a spring close to the town. It is currently not very full, but the situation may have been different hundreds of years ago. Water cisterns have also been found close to some of the buildings.
DISCOVERING THE TOWN:
It is suggested to first go on the path around the town. The turning is just before the ritual bath and it is not yet indicated on the map in the brochure. This path brings you into the town by a dwelling with a paved courtyard and by the synagogue. The length of the path is almost a kilometer and it takes about 15 minutes.
The synagogue was built in the early 4th century, destroyed by the earthquake, rebuilt and remained in use until the 8th century. As for other synagogues in the Galilee, it faces towards Jerusalem. Like the other buildings in the town, it is made from basalt stone. The bima and Torah Ark were inside the hall on either side of the main entrance. You can see the archway of the synagogue, 5 of its original 12 pillars, and lion figures. The arched buildings nearby are from the Mamluke period from the 14th and 15th centuries.
A ONE-WAY HIKE TO THE SEA OF GALILEE:
A hiking trail has recently been opened from Korazim down the side of the Korazim Plateau to the Sea of Galilee. It is described as being intermediate in terms of difficulty, is fairly steep, is a distance of 4 Km, and it should take about 2 hours. The gate from the village is a one-way revolving gate and it is not clear to me how easy it is to turn back into the park if you want to hike only part of the trail.
This is a mill for grinding wheat. Rotating the grinder would have been done by agricultural animals.
A sign showing agricultural machinery found on location.