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The BELVOIR Hospitaller Castle - Israel

Revival of a site

About the project

Belvoir is a major site in the Latin East, one of the most important castles built by the Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem in the second half of the 11th century.

The Castle of BELVOIR (Kokhav ha-Yarden), also known as the “star of the winds”, is located  in the north of Israel about fifteen kilometers south of the Sea of ​​Galilee and overlooks the Jordan Valley.  The fortification defended lands controlled by Frankish Christians. Since 2013, a Franco-Israeli team has  begun a new study of the castle associating, in an innovative multidisciplinary work, archaeologists,  historians, architects, art historians, topographers and geologists and practitioners (stonemasons). An  original working methodology based on the use of new tools such as photogrammetry has been  developed.

This archaeological research completes the two major excavation campaigns conducted by two Israeli archaeologists, N. Tzori and Ben Dov in 1963 and 1966.

The objective of this mission is to restore the history of this major site, considered by some authors as a model of hospital order castles, which successively witnessed the presence of francs, ayyubids and mamelukes.

What are the funds for?



The objectives of this year are:

- Reconstruction of the 12th century chapel

- The continuation of excavations of the castle

- The study of the peripheral enclosure

The previous missions aimed to undertake a new study of the site including excavations and an archaeological study of the remaining structures. This work made it possible to relate the origins of the castle and its history through the centuries.

A new plan of the castle is under process and new photogrammetric surveys of the elevations ensure a support to the analysis of the castle to serve for the restoration of the successive states of the fortification. Our efforts will focus on the restoration of the chapel once located on the first floor. Today, for the 2017 mission, we would like to accelerate the work on the ground and contribute more effectively to the valorisation of the results with the international scientific community.


Begin the valorisation of the site in direction to the public

The 3D documentation will be completed in order to be exploited as part of the enhancement project carried out in collaboration with the Israel Antiquities Department, represented by the architect Vardit Shotten-Hallel and the National Parks authorities. We are planning the full-scale reconstruction of the chapel, which will be an important tourist stop for both Israelis and visitors to the Holy Land. The chapel will partly rise on a platform, located to the west of the castle.

A collaboration carried out with the stone cutting department of the Lycée Hector Guimard (Paris) will allow to better understand the building techniques and to make scale one restitutions and modenatures of the sculptures. All this work will be part of a Franco-Israeli public exhibition planned at issue of the next three years.

New excavations to highlight the various phases of construction of the castle and to understand the complex system of water supply:

We will continue excavations of the first building located on the site and we will study the second enclosure. This last issue also includes the question of water management in a 12th century castle. We will try to better understand this aspect by excavating the hydraulic structures (pipelines, cisterns and baths...).

Communicate the results to the international scientific community

We will participate in the SHMESP congress (Société des Historiens Médiévistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur Public) welcoming the participants on the Belvoir site during their closing tour (May 3-8, 2017).


TARGET 1: 7 500 €

- Acceleration of earthworks and transfer of the lapidary (shoveler's salary): 1 500 €
- Salaries of specialists in medieval building and religious architecture, materials and construction techniques: 2 500 €
- Photogrammetries (photos & data processing), continuation of the data acquisition in order to realize a 3D film: 2 000 €
- Salary topographer: 1500 €

Target 2 : 13 500 €  

- Accommodation 15 days & living expenses: 4 000 €

- Transportation: 2 000 €

Target 3 : 18 000 €
Opening of new excavation areas (cisterns, baths) - prospectiion and exploration of two cisterns, study of lapidary and baths (hammam). Transportation and living expenses for three students: 4 500 €

About the project owner

An international multidisciplinary team including archaeologists, historians, architects, art historians, topographers, geologists and practitioners (stonemasons), students and volunteers.

The promoters of the project

Institutions:  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (France), Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), French Research Centre of Jerusalem (CRFJ), University Lyon 2, l’UMR 5138 (Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée), l’UMR 5648 (Institut des Sciences de l’Homme) and University Clermont II  (CHEC EA1001 USR3550).

2017 mission participants under the direction of Anne Baud (lecturer / Maître de Conférences University Lyon 2 UMR 5138) &  Jean-Michel Poisson, (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, UMR 5648).

Members of the mission: Hervé Haim Barbé, Engineer / SRA Centre-Val-de-Loire; Loïc Benoit, PhD student, University Lyon2; Damien Carraz, lecturer / Maître de conférences - University Blaise Pascal Clermont II EA1001-CHEC; Laurent d’Agostino, Atelier d'Archéologie Alpine, associated member of UMR 5648; Anna Josephsson, communication, Philippe Dessaint Topographer, Archaeological department of Lyon Town; Simon Dorso, PhD student, University Lyon2 UMR 5648; Mathilde Duriez, PhD student, University Lyon2 UMR 5138; Anne Flammin, Engineer CNRS, UMR 5138 ; Olivier Guyotat, Architect DPLG  Lyon; Robert Kool Archaeologist, Israel Antiquities Authority ; Nicolas Morelle, Topographer, PhD student University Aix-Marseille ; Florian Renucci, Project Manager experimental castle « Guédelon » (Yonne) ; Philippe Griot, stone mason Cluny, Amélie Roger, PhD student, University Lyon 2 UMR5138 ; Vardit Shotten-Hallel, architect Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel.

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This crowdfunding project is supported by “Association des amis de la Maison de l’Orient” in Lyon (France). It is a non-profit association founded in 1989 by Jean Pouilloux. The association aims to promote, toward a large public, the research work and cultural activities of the “Maison de l'Orient and the Mediterranean” (MOM).