Israel Archaeology
Thousands of years of Civilizations

Israel Archaeology has been there for centuries. Archaeologists from all nations have been coming to the Holy Land to dig for ancient ruins much before the State of Israel existed.

This land has a history of many millenniums and many civilizations have inhabited it and almost all disappeared from sight. Just the Jewish people have been a part of this land since the times of the Bible.

It concentrates mainly in sites mentioned in the Bible that serves as an “instruction manual” for the diggings.

Dead Sea Scrolls on display at the Israel Museum Jerusalem

The Dead Sea Scrolls

This has been the most important discovery in Israel Archaeology in recent years. Between the years of 1947-1956 they were discovered in the Caves of Qumran, near Jericho revealing some of the early copies of the books of the Bible.

There are also significant discoveries found in places like Beer Sheva, Tiberias, Masada, Megiddo and more.

All of the discoveries prove unequivocally the link of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel from the early years through many conquerors up to the British Mandate 1917-1948 and the Birth of the modern State of Israel.

Israel Antiquities Authority is in charge of the many digs of Israel Archaeology all over the country. We are going to mention a few.

The Roman Amphitheater in Beit Shean

Galilee and Golan Heights

  • Beit Shean
    It is one of the Decapolis of the Roman Empire, showing public streets, theaters, bath houses. It also shows the Tyche Mosaic, found in a Byzantine room dating to the 6th century. It is without any doubt the best remaining of a Roman City anywhere discovered.
  • Megiddo
    Located on the Jezreel Valley it is the site of Armageddon mentioned in the Bible. Archaeologists have discovered layers of cities dating more than 3,500 years. One of the most important discoveries here is the Megiddo Underground water system built by King Ahab more than 2,800 years ago.
  • Hatzor
    This is an important discovery in the Galilee consisting of an Acropolis and a lower town. The many treasures found in Hatzor are exhibited in the Israel Museum Jerusalem. This Tel is the one James Michener used for his great book “The Source”. I read it at least 30 years ago.

Ruins of the Old Synagogue in Capernaum

Israel Archaeology

  • Capernaum
    Located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is a Synagogue dating to the 2nd century, built over the original one where Jesus used to pray.
  • Tabgha
    Known as the church of Multiplication where legend says Jesus performed the miracle of converting a few loaves of bread and some fish into enough food to feed 5,000 people.
  • Korazim
    The ruins of a 3rd century Synagogue of black basalt where discovered in Korazim one of the places where Jesus preached.
  • Bar Am Synagogue
    Located on the northern border with Lebanon is said to be the burial site of Queen Esther. Purim was celebrated by reading the Esther Megillah (Esther’s Scroll) on this site.
  • Gamla
    Called the Masada of the North, because a similar story of Jews committing suicide by jumping to their death before surrendering to the Romans. Today many children celebrate their Bar Mitzvah on the mount.
  • Belvoir Fortress
    It was built by the Crusaders offering an impressive view of the Jordan Valley.

Ruins of the Old Aqueduct of Caesarea

The Mediterranean Coast

  • Caesarea
    The Roma Port of Caesarea near the Israeli city of Keysaria featuring a Roman Theater that is used nowadays for great concerts of local artists.
    And the Caesarea aqueduct that use to flow waters from Mount Carmel.
  • Acre
    This is the name used by the Crusaders for the actual city of Akko has been dominated by many civilizations during 3,500 years
  • Ashkelon
    Once a Philistine harbor city lying on what was the Stella Maris, linking ancient Egypt with Syria. It was in the hands of Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans.

Maarat Hamachpelah is one of Judaism Holiest Sites

The Judean Hills and Plains

  • The Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron
    The Maarat Hamachpelah in Hebrew is where the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are buried together with their wives Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. Rachel’s tomb is near Bethelehem.
  • Beit Guvrin
    It features Byzantine cemeteries and elaborate underground works to protect them from invaders.
  • Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
    It is revered by the tradition that Jesus was born here around a cave called the Grotto of the Nativity.

A view of Masada taken from the east

The Judean and Negev Deserts

  • Masada
    This is by far Israel’s most notorious archaeological site. It is visited by thousands of tourists a year is a symbol of rebellion of the Jews against the Romans. Please visit our page on Masada.
  • Jericho
    This is the oldest city in the world dating for more than 10,000 years. It features the Hisham Palace, and its mosaic.
  • Qumran Caves
    As mentioned above this is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947
  • Herodium
    This is one more of the desert fortresses built by King Herod. It is located near Bethlehem.
  • Avdat
    It is one of the Nabataean cities in the area with Petra as its capital.  Please visit our page on Petra Jordan.

The ruins of the City of David in Old Jerusalem

Israel Archaeology in Jerusalem

  • City of David
    In Hebrew Ir David, this is where King David set the foundations of the City of Jerusalem.
  • Cave of Zedekiah
    This is an underground complex running for several blocks under the Muslim Quarter in the Old City Jerusalem.
  • Garden Tomb
    This is where Jesus was laid to rest after the Crucifixion, outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
  • The Cardo
    This is a Byzantine street discovered during constructions in the Jewish Quarter. Today it’s a fancy arcade with shops.
  • The Burn House
    Is like entering a time capsule of the Second Temple Period. It is believed to have been burnt and sacked in the year 70 C.E.
  • Dome of the Rock
    Was built by Muslims where the Jewish Holy Temple stood, the site as per Jewish tradition of where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son Isaac.
  • Western Wall
    This is considered today as the holiest site of Judaism, but it is visited by people from all religious. I is also known as the Kotel in Hebrew and as the Wailing Wall.

Credits for images for Israel archaeology:
dead sea scrolls- n/a
beith shean kasper nowak
capernaum berthold werner
caesarea ian and wendy sewell
masada n/a
city of david dreror avi

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