Archaeological Gems: Armageddon, Sepphoris and Beit She’an

This tour is for people who like visiting archaeological sites. It covers both Biblical and Classical Periods with special attention to the styles prevalent at the time. We will be walking up a Tel, investigating water systems and examining the Art and Architecture which make these places stand out. I excavated at both Sepphoris and Beit She’an when I was in college so I can share some personal information about these places.

Our tour begins at the place called in the New Testament as Armageddon. According to the Book of Revelations 16:16 the Final Battle will happen here. Armageddon is a Greek corruption of the Hebrew Har Megiddo. The tel has 26 separate layers reflecting many civilizations and as such was the inspiration for James Michener’s book The Source.

Gate House

We approach the Gate Houses of the site, a Canaanite one followed by an Israelite example built later on. The date of the Israelite Gate is controversial as there is an argument as to whether it was constructed by Solomon as the Bible says in 1 Kings 9:15 or by his successors a century later. Nonetheless, the Biblical Tel here and at Hazor and Be’er Sheva in the Negev got UNESCO World Heritage Status. We move on to explore the rest of the site including the Temples from the Canaanite phase, Israelite stables and Water System.

It’s time to go to our next location. The Mosaic Capital of the country: Sepphoris.

Mona Lisa of the Galilee

I am partial to this site because after reading about a mosaic floor uncovered at the site and published in Biblical Archaeology Review in January 1989 I decided that summer that I HAD to dig there. It was the photograph of this woman, dubbed the Mona Lisa of the Galilee which inspired me.

After checking out this floor, we will move on to other mosaics such as the 5th century CE Zodiac Synagogue and the Nile House. The site also boasts a Roman theater. We can see evidence of the ritual baths in the city’s Jewish quarter and other surprises in the flagstones of the Cardo.

It is time for a Lunch break which we will do midway between here and the next place.

1-4Beit She’an is the best preserved Roman city in the country. Although pagan in nature it had a Jewish community so enamored it was described as being the entrance to the Gates of Paradise.

We can climb the Tel to see the remains from the Biblical Period while also getting a spectacular view. The site has 2 theaters, bath houses and other sumptuous structures.  If you want to see some really great architectural remains, this is the tour for you.