Judaean Mountains

The Judaean Mountains, or Judaean Hills (Hebrew: הרי יהודהHarei Yehuda, Arabic: جبال الخليلJibal Al Khalil (lit. "Hebron Mountains")), is a mountain range in Israel and the West Bank where Jerusalem and several other biblical cities are located. The mountains reach a height of 1,026 metres (3,366 ft). The Judean Mountains can be separated to a number of sub-regions, including the Mount Hebron ridge, the Jerusalem ridge and the Judean slopes. These mountains formed the heartland of the Kingdom of Judah, where the earliest Jewish settlements emerged.


The Judaean mountains are part of a more extended range that runs in a north-south direction. The ridge consists of the Samarian Hills in its northern part, and of the Judaean mountains in its southern part, the two segments meeting at the latitude of Ramallah. The westward descent from the hard limestone country of the Judaean mountains towards the coastal plain is by way of a longitudinal trough of fosse cut through chalk, followed by the low, rolling soft limestone hills of the Shephelah, while eastwards the landscape falls steeply towards the Jordan Rift Valley. The southern end of the mountain range is at Beersheba in the northern part of the Negev, where the mountains slope down into the Beersheba-Arad valley. The average height of the Judaean mountains is of 900 metres (2,953 ft), and they encompass the cities of Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron. The northern section of the Judaean mountains is referred to as Jerusalem Hills, and the southern one as Hebron Hills.

The Judaean Mountains were heavily forested in antiquity. The range is mostly composed of terra rossa soils over hard limestones.

Geology and palaeonthology

The Judaean Mountains are the surface expression of a series of monoclinic folds which trend north-northwest through Israel. The folding is the central expression of the Syrian Arc belt of anticlinal folding that began in the Late Cretaceous Period in northeast Africa and southwest Asia. The Syrian Arc extends east-northeast across the Sinai, turns north-northeast through Israel and continues the east-northeast trend into Syria. The Israeli segment parallels the Dead Sea Transform which lies just to the east. The uplift events that created the mountain occurred in two phases one in the Late Eocene-Early Oligocene and second in the Early Miocene.

In prehistoric times, animals no longer found elsewhere in the Levant region were found here, including elephants, rhinoceri, giraffes and wild Asian water buffalo.

The range has karst topography including a stalactite cave in Nahal Sorek National Park between Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh and the area surrounding Ofra, where fossils of prehistoric flora and fauna were found.


In ancient times the Judean mountains were the allotment of the Tribe of Judah and the heartland of the former Kingdom of Judah.


An Israel Railways line runs from Beit Shemesh along the Brook of Sorek and Valley of Rephaim into Jerusalem Malha Train Station.


See also

  • Judaean Desert, the arid area descending east of the Judaean Mountains towards the Jordan Rift Valley

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Judaean Mountains, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.