Israel Sites – Bet Guvrin National Park
Bet Guvrin National Park
Upon entering the park you might wonder why we brought you here – aside from a beautiful view there doesnt seem to be anything here. But, that is precisely the beauty of this site – underground is where you will find everything of interest. Archaeologists have found caves and water cisterns that date as far back as the 3rd Century BCE! So far they have found over 20 oil presses, a number of water cisterns that served private homes, burial caves, columbariums (thats where you raise pigeons) and hundreds of storage caves.
This area encompasses the ancient cities of Maresha and Bet Guvrin and was obviously once a major metropolis. The cities developed alongside the rivers and the valleys were suitable for cultivation. The cities of Bet Guvrin and Maresha both served travelers going between Jerusalem and Hebron and the coastal plain. Maresha is mentioned in the Bible in the time of Judah and subsequently fell into the hands of each new ruler. Excavations have produced remains from the Persian, Hellenist, Roman, Crusader and Arab empires.
Bet Guvrin seems to be a little more modern and dates back to the Second Temple when it flourished as a Jewish center until the Bar Kochba revolt. In the 3rd and 4th centuries the city was reestablished and Jewish life flourished. The remains of A Jewish cemetery and a synagogue from the Roman and Byzantine empire have been found. In addition remains of churches have been found from the Byzantine period.
Today not far from these remains stands Kibbutz Bet Guvrin established in 1949 immediately after the creation of the State.
Throughout your travels around Israel you may wonder how we know so much about ancient history. The truth is we get most of our information from archaeologists and books. Archaeologists study the history of a place and then search the area for remains of prior eras. A dig can last for years in one place until the archaeologists feel that they have uncovered enough information – coins, remains of buildings, documents, pottery… Youd be surprised at how much a piece of pottery can tell you – what type of people lived here, Jews, Arabs, Bedouins; What century they lived there; Was the community poor or wealthy; and more….
On a “dig for a day”, Israel experience participants participate in an ongoing dig and try their hand at finding some hidden relics.