Hirbet Madras, known as Churvat Madras in Hebrew, is the remains of an agricultural village located in Park Adulam. The Hirbet Madras ruins include houses, burial caves, hiding caves, a columbarium cave, and a burial pyramid.
The village has origins which date back to the iron age (1000 BCE), but its peak was in the Roman era. The village was later used by the fighters during the Bar Kochba Revolt in 132-135 CE. The village was deserted in the 4th century.
What to see
The burial pyramid was used as an impressive tombstone for a burial system which was located next to the pyramid. The pyramid is 10 meters long at its base, and reaches a height of 3.5 meters. The top layers of the pyramid are missing, and the original height of the pyramid is estimated at 5 meters.
Outside of the village, a burial cave with a rolling stone to close the entrance to two burial rooms is located. The burial rooms have multiple niches for burial. The burial cave also contained small sarcophagi for collecting the bones of the decomposed bodies, as was the custom of the Jews during the second temple period. Pottery found in the burial cave was used from the 1st century BCe until the Bar Kochba revolt in 132-135 CE.
A Byzantine church was discovered in 2010 with a well preserved mosaic floor and imported marble Corinthian pillars. Near the church is a burial cave, which is believed by some to be the tomb of the prophet Zecharia, as shown in the Madaba map.
The hiding caves are an underground tunnel system of interconnecting rooms which was used during the Bar Kochba revolt in 132-135 CE. The tunnels were used as shelter for the fighters in the revolt, as well as for storage of food and water. The village was destroyed after the Bar Kochba revolt, but was rebuilt and used a few hundred years later by Christians during the Byzantine Period.
Tip: The hiding caves can be entered and navigated by crawling; arrows mark the direction to be followed. Wear long clothing and bring a flashlight. Carry a minimum of items with you, because you will be dragging these along as you crawl on your stomach. The tunnels take about 20 minutes, but will take longer if there is a crowd.
Tip: The Hirbet Madras site takes about 1.5 hours to cover. The ruins are located in the JNF park known as Park Adulam, which is opposite Park Brittania. To get there, take route 38 and then follow the signs to Hirbet Madras. Park in the parking lot and head towards the ruins.
Tip: Take the blue trail. When the trail splits after a few minutes, stay on the blue trail; the green trail will lead you back to the parking at the end of the trail. The blue trail leads you to the hiding caves, and thereafter to other ruins at the site. The trail takes about 1.5 hours, not including time spent in the hiding caves.