New excavations at Beth She’arim, September 2014

New excavations at Beth She’arim, September 2014

One month ago I had the privilege to be a volunteer of the new archeological team at Beit She’arim national park, it was a Fascinating experience to dig and discover a piece of Roman glass and clay.

Beit Shearim is a national park in the Lower Galilee region of northern Israel. Beit Shearim is known for the remains of a Roman city located on a hilltop and the ancient Jewish burial catacombs located within it. Today the Beit Shearim National Park incorporates both the ruins of the city and the burial tombs .

In 70 AD Beit She’arim became the seat of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court and supreme council. In fact Rabi Judah Hanasi, who compiled the Mishnah, was buried here (in catacomb #14) making it a pilgrimage destination for devout Jews. Beit She’arim was destroyed by the Romans during the Gallus Revolt of 351 AD and since then has not regained its former glory.

Beit She’arim is best known for the messianic cemetery, 20 burial grounds or catacombs have been uncovered one of which alone contains 400 stone burial places. There is a museum in one of the catacombs and you can see the catacombs with stone coffins baring intricate carvings and inscriptions. Within the necropolis are family tombs, tombs cut into the hill side, complex connecting tombs and evidence of years of damage of the graves. There is evidence of limestone sarcophagi, stone, marble and even wooden coffins. Some of the catacombs reach two stories high with interlinking halls. Jewish folk art and motifs decorate the catacombs in paintings and carvings. Some of the caves can be sealed with large stone doors carved to resemble wooden doors. A large pane of glass was found together with other objects made of glass, proving that the site had a thriving glass industry as well. The glass artifacts are on show in one of the catacombs.

 

Anat Shimoni Cohen- Tour Guide

בית שערים חפירות