Digging the Iron Age at Bethsaida

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By: Olga Goussev-Sushinsky, 2013 Heritage Fellow

For my first archaeological dig, I decided to choose Bethsaida.  The site is located at north-east shore of the Sea of Galilee and is most known for its role in the New Testament. It is also renowned for being the capital of the Biblical kingdom Geshur.  Led by Dr. Rami Arav of the University of Nebraska, the project focuses on strata ranging from the Iron I to the Early Roman period.  I learned about the Bethsaida Excavations Project during the last ASOR Annual Meeting and became immediately drawn to the idea of excavating the legendary city of Geshur.

This year, our team was working on three areas, the Iron Age area, the Greco-Roman area, and the new one, whose age is still being determined. Each volunteer was presented with a choice of a preferable area, and I chose the one dating to the Iron Age (Area Asouth). The goal of our group was to expose a paved plaza floor of an Iron Age city and to find the outer defense wall.  I mostly dug the floor, while others worked in a trench area located behind the wall and on a mound next to the pavement. At some point, we came across some disturbances from modern activity. We found a few modern artifacts, including modern ware shards and a phone wire. After working through the disturbed area, our team discovered the destruction of the city gate—the infrastructure to the paved plaza—dating to the 9th century BCE. Below the pavement is located the floor of the earlier city gate dating to the 10th century BCE. (more…)

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