Haluza (Arabic: الخلصة; Hebrew: חלוצה), also known as Al-Khalasa, Halasa, Chellous (Χελλοὺς in Greek, although in the 6th-century Madaba Map the town appears as ΕΛΟΥϹΑ), Elusa, al-Khalasa and al-Khalūṣ (Arabic), was a city in the Negev near present-day Kibbutz Mash'abei Sadeh that was once part of the Nabataean Incense Route. It lay on the route from Gaza to Petra.
The city is called 'Chellous' (Χελλοὺς) in the Greek text of Judith, i, 9. It is also mentioned by Ptolemy (as being in Idumaea), Peutinger's Table, Stephanus Byzantius (as being formerly in the province of Arabia Petraea, but "now" in Palaestina Tertia), Jerome, the pilgrim Theodosius, Antoninus of Piacenza, and Joannes Moschus.
Jerome's life of St. Hilarion mentions a great temple of Aphrodite in Elusa in the 4th century. Hilarion is supposed to have introduced Christianity to Elusa in the fourth century.Early in the following century, a Bishop of Elusa, after redeeming the son of Nilus of Sinai, who had been carried off from Mount Sinai by the Arabs, ordained both him and his father. Other bishops known are Theodulus, 431; Aretas, 451; Peter, 518; and Zenobius, 536.
The ruins of Halusa are located in a large plain 20 km (12 mi) southwest of Beersheba, Israel. Many inscriptions have been found there. In the vicinity, according to the Targums, was the desert of Sur with the well at which the angel found Hagar (Genesis 16:7). (See Revue Biblique, 1906, 597).
In 2014, two archaeological survey-excavations were conducted at Haluza on behalf of the University of Cologne in Germany and Haifa University. Archaeological surveys of the area are partly hampered by the presence of shifting sands. However, Nabataean streets have been found, along with two churches, a theatre, wine press and tower.
In March 2019, a team of German and Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of a 1,700-year-old Greek inscription, bearing the name of the city of Elusa.
By analysing rubbish removed from the city, it has been determined that it underwent a major decline around the middle of the sixth century, about a century before the Islamic conquest. The excavators propose that their findings call for a reevaluation of the settlement history of the Negev region in the late Byzantine period. One possible cause for the crisis is raised as the Late Antique Little Ice Age, a cold snap believed to have been caused by "volcanic winter".