Bnot Ya'akov Bridge Panorama, Israel

The Daughters of Jacob Bridge (Hebrew: גשר בנות יעקב‎, Gesher Bnot Ya'akov, or Arabic: Jisr Benat Ya'kub) is a site on the upper Jordan River. It has the last good ford at the southern end of the Hula Basin before the Jordan gets squeezed between the Korazim Plateau and the Golan Heights, and has thus been a crossing point for thousands of years. The name Jacob's Ford arose during the Crusades and is still in use, mostly in English. The bridge was the best-known medieval bridge in Palestine, and was destroyed during the draining of Lake Hula by the PLDC.

The bridges built here in the past have led to the site's Arabic name, Jisr Banât Ya'qūb (Arabic: جسر بنات يعقوب‎), lit. "Daughters of Jacob Bridge", translated to Hebrew as Gesher Bnot Ya'akov, the name under which it is known today in Israel. The Hebrew name, written Gesher Benot Ya'aqov and abbreviated as GBY, is how the very important prehistoric archaeological site is known to the academic world. The modern bridge is part of Highway 91 and straddles the border between Israel and the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights. It is of strategic military significance as it is one of the few fixed crossing points over the upper Jordan River which enable access from the Golan Heights to the Upper Galilee.

Prehistoric remains at the site, analysed by archaeologists from Germany, the United States and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, provided evidence that Lower Paleolithic hominins lived on the shore of a large lake (which was predecessor to and much larger than today's Hula Lake) and manufactured stone tools, butchered animals, gathered plant materials and probably controlled fire as early as 790,000 years ago.

The caravan route from China to Morocco via Mesopotamia and Egypt used this crossing as part of the ancient Via Maris, which has been strategically important to Egyptian, Assyrian, Hittite, Jew, Saracen Arab, Crusader knight, and Ottoman Janissary, who had all crossed the river at this place. The Crusaders built a castle overlooking the ford which threatened Damascus and was promptly attacked and destroyed by Saladin in 1179. The old arched stone bridge had marked the northern limit of Napoleon's advance in 1799.


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