Skip to comments.Archaeology / Judging By These Remains, The Tanakhic Description Is Anchored In Reality
Posted on 10/26/2003 5:31:29 PM PST by blam
Archaeology / Judging by these remains, the Tanakhic description is anchored in reality
By Ran Shapira
Unlike other cities from the biblical period, Bethsaida has been well preserved. Buildings discovered there indicate an organized and stable society from the 10th century B.C.E.
A road paved with basalt stones, four meters in width, leads to the gate of the city of Bethsaida, which overlooks Lake Kinneret from the northeast. About 50 meters of the road were exposed during the most recent digging seasons at the site. Dr. Rami Arav says that an investigation with ground-penetrating radar revealed that the paved road does not end near the city gate, but continues.
Dr. Arav, an archaeologist from the University of Nebraska in Omaha, who oversees the digs at Bethsaida, considers the paved road - which was constructed during the 10th century B.C.E. - to be a symbol of the stability and the prosperity of the kingdom
of Geshur, of which Bethsaida was the capital. "A wagon is a massive vehicle. For the farmers of the time it was like a car for us today. A farmer who knew that he could keep a wagon outside his house without having to worry that it would be stolen, and that anyone who tried to steal it would be punished, relied on the government," explains Arav. "That's why a paved road is a sign of an orderly, stable and law-abiding regime."
The gate to which the road led was the civic heart of the kingdom. It was at the gate that commercial life was carried out, legal discussions were held, and news was received about events that had occurred all over the kingdom.
On the benches placed all along the gate sat the elders of the city who ran its daily affairs. Judging by the altar sites found on both sides of the gate, religious ceremonies were held there as well.
The gate itself was a monumental structure, the largest of its kind found in the area between Damascus and Egypt. It covered an area of about half a dunam, and its walls were built of large basalt tablets, which were covered with white plaster. Some of the walls were well preserved, and today they rise to a height of about three meters. Inside the structure of the gate, on both sides, were four large compartments, some of which served for storage of ritual objects and others for the storage of wheat.
According to Dr. Arav, Bethsaida is one of the largest cities dating from the 10th century B.C.E. found in Israel. Its total area was over 80 dunams, greater than the area of Jerusalem, Hatzor and Megiddo during that period.
The city was surrounded by two walls - a thin outer wall and a thick, strong inner wall, which was constructed of huge basalt rocks, and rose to a height of six to eight meters.
The size of the city, its construction methods, the road that led to it, and the religious and administrative services it provided for the inhabitants of Geshur lead Dr. Arav to claim that the dig he has been conducting for 13 seasons at Bethsaida is of a historical importance that transcends the finds at the site.
The city was built during a period when, according to the Bible, the kingdom of David and Solomon flourished (the period of the United Kingdom). But there are almost no remains of the Jerusalem of David, and of other capital cities in the region during that period, such as Samaria and Rabbat Ammon.
"Of all the capital cities in the region, only Bethsaida was well preserved. It can be seen as a model of a capital city from the biblical period," says Arav. "From the way it is constructed we can draw conclusions about how Jerusalem, Samaria or other similar cities may have looked."
The construction of a big city like Bethsaida was a complex operation, which required engineering and construction skills, as well as a knowledge of architectonics. According to Arav, the impressive success of the operation demonstrates that during that period, the kingdoms in the region had the ability to carry out large projects of this kind.
In that sense, Bethsaida provides support for the claims of archaeologists and historians who believe that the biblical descriptions of the United Kingdom and its enterprises are grounded in reality.
The finds weaken the claims of those scholars known as minimalists, who believe that there is a gap between the historical truth and the Tanakhic stories, and that in the 10th century B.C.E. there was a tribal society in Israel rather than an organized and stable society.
The impressive buildings of Bethsaida, the wall and a tower built next to the gate - the only real military structure designed to protect the city - didn't withstand the soldiers of Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III, who captured the city in 732 B.C.E., and destroyed the tower to its foundations.
The city itself was not totally destroyed, and remained sparsely occupied for many years to come. It served as a home for inhabitants who came from Tyre, afterward was captured by the Hasmoneans, with Philip, son of Herod, rebuilding the city and establishing a modest Roman temple in it.
But the city never returned to its 10th century B.C.E. dimensions. The settlement that remained in it was in effect a small fishing village.
That didn't stop Bethsaida from acquiring a respectable status for itself. The settlement is one of the most frequently mentioned places in the New Testament, thanks to the three Christian apostles who were born there, and to the miracles that Jesus performed in the village.
It was in Bethsaida that Jesus gave the blind man back his sight and where he performed the miracles of the loaves and the fishes. And it was from there, too, that he was seen walking on the waters of Lake Kinneret.
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What is half a dunam?
Or a whole dunam, for that matter?
Don't know, this is all that I could find.
"... One square kilometer (10,000 dunam) of farmland in these areas produces income of about USD 900,000"
I can't think of any archaeological find that has ever dis-proved anything in the bible, do you?
I can't think of any archaeological find that has ever dis-proved anything in the bible, can you?
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