Hebrew Bible and ANE History Lists Commentary

News and Comments that relate to the Hebrew Bible and to my posts on various ANE and Hebrew Bible related mailing lists - Yitzhak Sapir

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Excavations in modern Bet El reveal a site dating to the Second Temple period


Excavations at modern Bethel
Photo source: Arutz 7 report
Arutz 7 (Hebrew / French) reported May 31st on the discovery of a site dating to the Second Temple period in the modern town of Bethel (not the village Beitin, but a nearby site called Khirbet Kafr Mer). The remains, including pottery and coins show a settlement dating from the time of Alexander Jannaeus until the Great Revolt. Remains of a Byzantine church and mosaics as well as an Umayyad bathhouse were also discovered. The Byzantine/Umayyad site was abandoned in the 8th century CE. The digs are set to take about a month. I was hoping this would be translated into English but it seems it was only translated into French. The article is very repetitive but here goes:

A large archaeological site dating to the Second Temple period has been revealed in a neighborhood of Bethel. The archaeologist Har-Even: "The entire site was covered with asphalt during the Mandate period and was revealed during infrastructure work. Various artifacts from the period of King Alexander Jannaeus (Alexander Yannai) were revealed, such as coins and pottery.
...



Excavations at modern Bethel
Photo source: Arutz 7 report

A large archaeological site was discovered in the town of Bethel, providing evidence for Jewish life during the Second Temple period and other periods. It was discovered as a result of infrastructure digging in the neighborhood of Maoz Tsur and they are being undertaken by the Staff Officer of Archaeology at the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria.

The mayor, Moshe Rosenbaum, reported that artifacts providing evidence of a Jewish site during the Second Temple period were discovered - from the period of King Alexander Jannaeus as well as the Byzantine and Umayyad periods. The digs will continue for about a month.


Excavations at modern Bethel
Photo source: Arutz 7 report

The archaeologist Binyamin Har-Even says that the archaeological digs are taking place at the site of the drill field of the Training Camp #4 military base. The site was discovered as a result of infrastructure work in the nearby neighborhood of Maoz Tsur. The site was covered in asphalt during the mandate period, when the British military base was built, which was ultimately inherited by the IDF. The site disappeared from public view until these days of infrastructure work.

The site, known as Khirbet Kafr Mer, was surveyed first in the late 19th century, by British scholars who identified the place as a settlement dating to the Byzantine and early Muslim period.


Excavations at modern Bethel
Photo source: Arutz 7 report

The archaeologist Binyamin Har-Even adds in his report to the town citizens that during current excavations, additional strata are being revealed that show that there was repeated settlement and abandonment of the area. According to him, the artifacts point towards a Second Temple period site. The dating seems to point to the entire length of the Hasmonean kingdom (2nd century BCE). Excavations revealed amongst other things coins that were minted during the period of Alexander Jannaeus.


Excavations at modern Bethel
Photo source: Arutz 7 report
Similarly, various pottery and daily use vessels were discovered. "We don't know when the Second Temple period site was abandoned. It is possible that it was abandoned after the Great Revolt or the Bar Kokhba revolt at the latest. We hope to answer this question during the current excvations," writes Har-Even. "As a result of the destruction of the Jewish settlement at the site, the site lay abandoned for 250 years until the Byzantine period. At that time, Christians resettled the site and remains of a church as well as additional buildings, some of which had mosaic floors, were discovered. The site survived until the Umayyad period, to which the remains of a bathhouse are dated. It appears that during the 8th century the site was finally abandoned, and was not settled anew until modern times. The excavations add another level to our understanding of the history of settlement in this area of the land."

2 Comments:

Anonymous Scott said...

I am sorry to be off topic here, but I'm just scratching the surface on OT and ANE studies and looking for a bit of guidance. Will you comment on the records of the law handed down at Sinai and possible ANE dependency? If not, will you point me toward such discussions. Thanks.

2/03/2007 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Yitzhak Sapir said...

Hello, Scott.

I suggest you place your question on the Biblical studies list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/biblical-studies.

2/04/2007 11:30:00 AM  

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