Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be traveling in Israel exploring ancient sites and excavations throughout the country. The first week, I journey with a Ministry of Tourism representative to Caesarea, Safed, Capernaum, Qumran, Massada, and the City of David, among others. Then, I venture on my own to report from Jerusalem, where I will be staying in a sumptuous former Turkish pasha's palace.

Each day—Internet access permitting—I'll be sending updates to our Facebook and Twitter sites. Check back here for the latest photographs and impressions.

June 25, 2009

Simply put, there is no other place in the world quite like Israel, where millennia-old religions converge and tempers flare on 100-degree afternoons; where 20-something soldiers stroll through ancient sites with M-16s casually slung over their shoulders; and where archaeological remains are stacked up like layer cake, just inches beneath the country's well-tread roads. It'll be hard to leave--I've met some brilliant archaeologists doing groundbreaking work and feel like I've just started to scratch the surface of the stories that are out there--but I can't wait to start writing. Stay tuned!

June 24, 2009

Today, I met with Jon Seligman, the Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist of the Israel Department of Antiquities, which deals with everything from conducting salvage excavations to planning archaeological parks. "How do you balance working in a city where people have to live and the fact that it's a 6,000-year-old city? Every time you put a spade into the ground, you're going to find antiquities," says Seligman. "We try to do it as intelligently as we can and with as much respect for the ancient remains as possible. Do I have to protect every ancient grave in the city of Jerusalem from future development? The answer is no. The thing is, you make sure you do have a representative sample that you can preserve for the future, while on the other hand, you just have to excavate, fully document, and publish, and that's the preservation of that particular site. So that's the balance, trying to figure out where everything goes."

June 23, 2009

This week, I've been meeting with some of Israel's top archaeologists. In future issues of ARCHAEOLOGY, you'll read about the most exciting excavations going on today. In the meantime, here are some photos from my other adventures.

June 21, 2009

On the last day of the group tour, we visited the famous archaeological site known as the "City of David," said to be where King David established the Jewish capital in 1000 B.C. Then, we wandered around the Old City on our own.

June 20, 2009

Jerusalem is a surreal ancient city, where stories from the most holy texts of every major religion come to life through tangible sites and objects. This afternoon, I placed my lightly trembling hands on an age-smoothed rectangular slab of stone, believed by Catholics to be the spot where the body of Jesus was laid to rest.

June 19, 2009

Today, I found out that you can do more than float in the Dead Sea region of Israel. The archaeological sites near the lowest place on earth are simply spectacular.

June 18, 2009

This morning we left Tiberias, a city founded by Herod Antipas in A.D. 20, where we spent the night. We drove from the Galilee to Jerusalem, through the same mountainous, dry regions Jesus would have journeyed. Along the way, we stopped at the archaeological site of Bet-She'an, whose earliest remains date to the fifth millennium B.C.

June 17, 2009

While the archaeological highlight of the day was Capernaum—the so-called "City of Jesus"—a packed itinerary also included visits to unique Galilean villages steeped in centuries-old traditions.

June 16, 2009

This morning we explored the outdoor markets of Tel Aviv, including Carmel, which abounds with succulent tomatoes, juicy grapes, sesame-coated breads, and more. Then finally, some archaeology! (It only took us 24 hours since we landed.)

Caesarea features ancient ruins--some elements well preserved, most reconstructed--that date from the Phoenicians to the Crusaders, but is perhaps best known as the ancient port city of of King Herod ( r. 37 to 4 B.C.). Afterward, we tasted some lovely Israeli wine at Tishbi Winery (definitely an archaeology-related endeavor).

June 15, 2009

We spent our first day looking at "old" Tel Aviv, even though the city is much more popular for its modern buildings and discos. Tomorrow we'll move on to Caesarea, but here are a few images from today.

Eti Bonn-Muller is managing editor at ARCHAEOLOGY.