Free lectures featuring some of today's most prominent archaeologists are held throughout the year. The Museum is open before and after the lectures.
Bethsaida: A City by the North Shore of the Sea of Galilee
Dr. Rami Arav, Department of Religion, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Oct. 4, 2018
Knox Room, Long Hall
Home of the fishermen Andrew, Peter, and Philip (John 1:44), Bethsaida is the most frequently mentioned town in the Gospels after Capernaum and Nazareth. The New Testament associates Bethsaida (northeast of the Sea of Galilee) with Jesus’ meeting a blind man’s seeking healing (Mark 8), his feeding of a multitude with five loaves and two fish (Luke 9), and his cursing the town for its repentance (Matt11).
Bethsaida’s location, however, remained a mystery until 1987, when Professor Rami Arav launched the excavations at et-Tell (“the mound”). He then organized the Consortium for the Bethsaida Excavations Project and began conducting annual digs at the site (though others have located Bethsaida at el-Araj, nearer the Sea of Galilee’s shore).
The upper layers of et-Tell revealed a Hellenistic village eventually abandoned during the first century BCE. But by 30 CE the tetrarch Herod Philip II elevated the reestablished fishing village to the status of a polis (“city”) and renamed it Julias, in honor Augustus’s wife. Beneath the floor of an apparent Roman temple, archaeologists found coins, beads, jugs, house keys, and a Roman soldier’s shield. One rare coin was minted in Acre on the arrival of Cleopatra and Marc Antony in 35 BCE. Later, another coin dated from Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, who reigned from 138 to 161 CE. Bethsaida was abandoned once again in the mid-fourth century CE because of a geological catastrophe in the region and was never resettled.
Arav’s work has also revealed a monumental Iron Age (First Temple Period) town—likely Zer, capital of biblical Geshur, northeast of the Kingdom of Israel. Joshua 19:35 identifies Zer as a fortified city, and the excavations at et-Tell have revealed impressive monumental structures in this period: two concentric massive city walls, the largest and best-preserved city gate in the region, a palace, and a granary—all elements indicating it was a major political and economic center that flourished from the 11th century BCE to the Assyrian conquest in 732 BCE.
Come hear Dr. Rami Arav, who himself was born and raised in the Galilee, present his exciting work at this 30-year-long excavation.
The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology will be open from 6:30-7:15 p.m. and after the lecture. The lecture and reception to follow are free and open to the public.
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When space is available, archaeology courses at PTS may be audited through the Registrar's Office. Because PTS courses are graduate level, a bachelor's degree is normally a prerequisite. Check the list of upcoming available courses.