The Jezreel valley is clustered with many points of interest within beautiful lush landscapes . Moreover, the valley is also at the intersection of a major road system of the ancient Near East. This tour will focus on two significant archaeological sites in the Jezreel Valley – Beit-Sheam and Megiddo.
Uncover Ancient Beit-Shean
Inhabited since Neolithic times, Beit She’an is one of the oldest cities in the World. In Roman and Byzantine times it became a regional capital, and it continued to thrive in the Early Muslim Periods. But in 749 CE Beit-Shean was destroyed by a devestating earthquake, and later abandoned for centuries. The antiquities of the site were surveyed already in the 19th century, but only in the 1980’s a large scale excavations uncovered many parts of the city’s classical periods.
Its main attractions include an impressive theatre and a set of bath houses, commercial streets, some of which may have functioned as a brothel, and foundations of several Roman Temples. The citadel of the city was inhabited also in Canaanite times, and its finds include remains from Canaanite, Egyptian, and Israelite Periods. Furthermore, the top of the citadel also provides stunning views of the Jordan Valley and the Gilboa Mountains.
Decipher Mosaic of Beth-Alpha
A short ride form Beit-Shean lies the mysterious mosaic floor in the heart of Kibbutz Hefzi-Ba. Discovered in 1929, the Beth Alpha mosaic floor decorated a synagogue, yet, suprsingly, it proved to contain figurative images, and even a Zodiac. To this day scholars debate the meaning behind these symbols and the type of Jewish community that lived here some 1,500 years ago.
In addition to that, the site is also a good place to learn about the Zionist Movement and the Kibbutz movement – Communism, but on a micro level.
Explore Biblical Armageddon
We conclude the day with a visit to Megiddo. Like Beit-Shean, thie site was also a imprtant city place at the junction of important cross roads in antiquity. Indeed, excavations of this site uncovered 25 succesive layers of human use, till its abandonment in Persaian period. The most imporant finds are from Canaanite and Israelite times. Finally, Megiddo is also significant to the Christian world as it is identified with Armageddon, the site of the battle at the end times (Rev. 16:16).
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