The Migdalit and Zaak Antiquities
At the Migdalit site, there is a cave dwelling from the Byzantine Period, which contains foundations of buildings, caves, a cistern and stones that were brought there for secondary use. The cave served as a permanent dwelling or a temporary dwelling during the grazing season. The cave complex is divided into places for human dwelling, animal dwelling and storage of tools and supplies. The site has a courtyard surrounded by a stone fence, where the herds were gathered and where other domestic chores were done, such as baking and laundering. The site also has a plastered pit for storing rainwater.
Visitors in the area have two options. One is to go from Nahal Shikma back to Highway 325 (Shoket Junction – Lehavim Junction) and end the excursion at the Lahav Forest lookout tower and the Joe Alon Center for Bedouin Culture. Another is to continue on the Devira Forest road another for 3km eastward to the Zaak Antiquities (preferably in an ATV). In the winter, when the anemones and the bee orchids are in bloom, it is recommended to continue along the road to the Zaak Antiquities until the Kenaz Well and Nahal Shomriya.
On the way to the Zaak ruins, along the roadside, there are new trees in protective sleeves such as olive, carob, jujube, terebinth, eucalyptus, pine and acacia, which were planted by KKL-JNF using the savannization method. There are many butterflies in the area, according to season, which are attracted to the acacia trees. Zaak is an ancient site from many periods and contains remnants from different eras, from the middle Bronze Age (4,000 years go) to the late Arab Period. There is a secret tunnel at the site and a winepress inside the cave.
Entrance to the site is free but must be arranged in advance. This place is suitable for families with children. After a visit to the Zaak Antiquities, one may continue to the adjacent Lahav Forest and enjoy the great view from the Foresters Watchtower, or have a picnic in one of the many recreation areas in the forest.
Nahal Shikma Scenic Road
Nahal Shikma is one of the largest streambeds of the coastal plain. It starts near Kibbutz Lahav and descends from there in a moderate channel toward the northwest, passes near Kibbutz Dvir and proceeds to the coastal plain. The watercourse continues northwest parallel to the Tel Aviv – Beersheba railroad. It crosses Highway 40 and passes through a nature reserve that has springs, lush vegetation and archeological sites.
Like other rivers in Israel, it is characterized by an irregular flow that appears with the winter rainfall. Its name is derived from the abundance of sycamore trees on its banks. In the early 1980s, when the streambed was restored, KKL-JNF planted a variety of trees on its banks, including eucalyptus, date palm, terebinth, jujube and carob, all which provide an ecological corridor for diverse wildlife and many birds typical to regions between the desert and the Mediterranean Sea.
The beauty of the area changes with the seasons. In the winter, there are green fields where clover, grain, legumes and wheat are cultivated, and in the summer, there is a lot of yellow. One can cycle along the length of the stream bank or drive along it by car, preferably an ATV. The Teva Recreation Area is at the eastern end of Nahal Shikma.
Devira Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.