Dabburiya,An Arabic Village was formerly the Israeli/Jewish Davarita /DR.Rivka Shpak Lissak

Dabburiya nowadays is an Arabic village situated at the foot of Mt Tabor. It has a population of 8,500, mostly Muslim. Villagers explain that the name is derived from the Canaanite or Arabic root “DBR” or “DVV”, meaning a sheep pasture (Dabburiya is rich in pastures). Prof. Yohanan Aharoni states that the suffix “ia” is common in Arabic, and that is how Davrat became Dabburiya.

The Jewish settlement at the foot of Mt Tabor, Davrat was populated by Israelis/Jews from the 12th century BCE until the 7th century CE. It was a thriving village in the 4th century CE but ceased to exist during the 7th century.

The site was inhabited during the Middle Bronze Age (2100- 1550), as was discovered by excavations held during July 2004. The excavations uncovered a cluster of fieldstones, arranged in a raw above a layer of natural silt, which were probably part of an ancient terrace wall.

North-East of the Arabic village one can see Hirbet Daboura, the site of the Biblical Davrat or Davira, named according to one theory after its rich pastures, or according to another theory, after the prophetess Deborah. Davrat appears in the lands belonging to the Yissakhar tribe.

The First Temple Period (1000- 578 BCE)

The site has been inhabited since the Iron Age (1200 BCE). Excavations in the ruins of Davrat unearthed workshops for cloth dyeing, which, according to Prof. Aharoni, was the locals’ main vocation. Davrat is listed also among the cities of the Levites in the Book of Joshua and in the Book of Chronicles. Other finds include ancient remains, hewn graves and foundations of buildings.

The Second Temple Period (538BCE – 70 CE)

During the Second Temple period the settlement was called Davrita or Dveyra. A fortress was built on top of Mt Tabor at the time of Antioch III’s campaign ( ruler of the Silevkus kingdom of Syria, 242 – 187 BCE) and was reinforced by Josephus Flavius in preparation for the Great Revolt (66-70CE) .

The Roman & Byzantine Periods (70CE – 640CE)

Jewish Davrita or Dveyra continued to be populated after the Great Revolt and during the Roman period. Following the destruction of the Temple, priests from the Pitzatz clan settled in it. Josephus Flavius mentioned the town in his book “The Life of Josephus Flavius”. A large Jewish community thrived there during the 4th century, and in his book “Onomastikon” Eusebius mentioned it had its own synagogue. Davtarta or Davrata is also mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud.

Excavations held during July 2004 in the village south of the local council building, uncovered the ruins of a building from the Roman period, and fragments of pottery vessels and a cooking pot. Also, under a floor were found potsherds from the Roman or Byzantine periods.

The Emperor Constantine separated the area of Davrita/Dveyra, Mt Tabor, and Nazareth from the Tzipori region and turned the town into the new region’s capital, naming it Helenopolis after his mother, Helen. Helenopolis is mentioned in the Church chronicles and in town lists form the 6th and 7th centuries. Constantine wanted to create a region of the Christian holy places and new settlers in the town during his reign were Christians, not Arabs. During the Byzantine period the town was a holy site for Christians. A Byzantine church was built in the town and was named “Church of the Eight Apostles” by pilgrims. Its remains, including a mosaic floor, were uncovered in the Arabic village center.

The fate of Davrita’s Jewish community, which ceased to exist in the 7th century, is not known. The Byzantines massacred the Galilean Jews in 628 CE for their aid to the Persians, who conquered the country in 614 CE with the help of a Jewish volunteer force numbering 20,000. Perhaps this was how the Jews of Davrita perished, or it may be possible that they fled to the mountains or to the neighbouring countries, just as Jews from other towns did.

The Arabic Period (638CE – 1099CE)

No information exists on Jews or Christians either in Dveyra or in Helenopolis. There is also no information of any Arabic settlement there.

The Crusader Period (1099 – 1260)

During the 12th century Davrita became a Frankish village called Bourie. The Crusaders established villages for the Frankish population in order to settle European farmers in the country. Introducing the feudal system, each farmer was given a house and land and in return was obliged to hand over a third of his crops to the feudal lord. The Crusaders built a fortress to protect the road leading to Mt Tabor. Archeologists found in the village of Dabburiya an inscription in Arabic dated 1212, about a fortress built on the ruins of a crusader's fortress. The inscription is probably connected to the wars between Christians and Muslims.

The Mameluke Period (1260 – 1516)

It is not known exactly when Arabs began settling there. Most probably it was at the beginning of the Mameluke period, since fragments of pottery from the 13th and 14th centuries were found in the village..

The Ottoman Period (1516 – 1917)

Ottoman tax lists from the 16th century mention about 200 residents in the village Dabburiya. Remains of a Turkish Khan (inn) can be seen in the village center. An English traveler visited the place in 1697 and wrote that “it is believed [the village’s] name is derived from Deborah”.

The British Mandate Period (1917 – 1948)

In 1930 the Franciscans carried out excavations in the site of the Byzantine church. During the Arab revolt (1936 – 1939) Daburia was one of the centers of the anti-British revolt.

The State of Israel

Dabburiya was conquered from Iraqi forces during "Dekkel Operation" ( 9.7.1948 – 19.7.1948). Some of the Arabic population left.
Average per-capita income in Daburia is 36% lower than the national average. University graduates percentage is also lower than the national average (14% vs. 20%). The quality of life reflects this social-economic situation. The old-age home in the village is the first of its kind in the Arabic sector and is home to elderly persons from throughout the sector. The village has four mosques and its residents are devout Muslims. One of the village sons, Jamal Masalha, volunteered to serve in the IDF Border Patrol in 1992, and was killed by terrorists in Tul-Karm on 27.3.1993.

Where to read more?

Thank you for the interesting article about the history of Davarita / Helenopolis / Daburiyya. I'd be interested in learning more; what sources did you find useful in preparing this article?



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