• Name: Paul McLerran
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Uncovering the Secrets of Ancient Bethsaida

A standing stone and portion of the remains of the
ancient city gate of the capital city of Geshur at Bethsaida

For nearly two thousand years, the ancient biblical city of Bethsaida on the shores of the Sea of Galilee had been lost to humanity and was assumed by many to be a myth. Here, according to the New Testament of the Bible, the Apostles of Jesus, Peter, Andrew, and Phillip, were born. Here too, Jesus performed some of his miracles, including healing of a blind man, the feeding of the multitudes, and walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee. And here too, Phillip, the son of Herod the Great, upgraded the city to the status of a Greek city, where he was subsequently buried after his death. It was not until 1987, through the pioneering work of the Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Rami Arav, that the location of Bethsaida was finally revealed. Scientific investigations and excavations have been conducted at the site since 1990 through a consortium of universities. Perhaps the most notable discovery at Bethsaida, in addition to the remains of the Hellenistic-Roman city known by Jesus, are the remains of an ancient Iron Age city dated to the period of ancient Israel's United Monarchy, the time of kings David and Solomon. At that time, according to scholarly interpretation, the city served as the capital of the ancient kingdom of Geshur. It is thought that it was this location that King David visited and where he subsequently married Ma'achah, the daughter of the King of Geshur.

Join the Team!

Interested in becoming a part of this exciting expedition? Go to Bethsaida Today for more detailed information.

One more fascinating note about Bethsaida: The tomb of Herod Phillip has yet to be discovered!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Investigating Food and Drink in Ancient Pompeii

Most everyone has heard or read of the cataclysmic 79 A.D. volcanic destruction of ancient Pompeii. Because of the unique preservative effects of it's horrific burial, that ill-fated city has left a legacy of a civilization frozen in time, revealing structures, artifacts, human remains, and infrastructure features equaled in detail by few other ancient sites. Perhaps no other site has been documented as prolifically as this one.
As much as we already know about Pompeii, however, there is still much more to discover, many questions left to be answered. The daily life-ways and styles of this ancient people continue to be a subject of intense scrutiny. During the summer of 2011, a team of scholars, students and volunteers will contribute to this undertaking by conducting a detailed investigation of selected areas, features and structures with an eye toward shedding light on where, how, why, when and what these ancient Romans ate and drank. They will measure, photograph, record, draw, and analyze. The investigation will be totally non-intrusive. No excavation will be conducted. The objective of these investigations will be to acquire new insights on city planning and the development of healthy and sustainable urban environments for the future.

Joining the Team

Activities will be organized into three one-week sessions from June 19 to July 9, 2011. Generally, volunteers and students may participate in one, two, or all three sessions. Participants will stay in a small, family-run hotel with air-conditioned rooms, eating facilities, and a swimming pool. As part of the experience, participants will attend a series of lectures about the history and geography of Pompeii, as well as a guided walk of the city. A series of other lectures will be offered during the mornings and evenings on a host of other topics related to the culture, finds, and other subject areas. Each week the group will be taken to the Antiquarium di Boscoreale, a museum exhibiting the artifacts of Pompeii. Most importantly, team participants will be instructed in all methods and skills needed to conduct the vital data collection that will take place during the expedition.

This project will afford an excellent opportunity for student and volunteer alike to acquire new skills and an intense education in ancient Roman life and archaeology. If interested, see the website for detailed information about the expedition and how to apply.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Digging the Minoans

The island of Crete is perhaps best known, archaeologically speaking, for its ancient Bronze Age Minoan sites such as Knossos, where the remains of the capital city of the fabled King Minos still stand in ruins. The Minoans are thought to be the Aegean forerunners of the Greek civilization, and work continues on the island to uncover what remains of the great civilization they built. Enter Gournia, a settlement that has seen archaeological excavation and study in the past, but re-emerges with renewed excavations that began in the summer of 2010. For the next two years, excavations will continue under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the University at Buffalo, New York. Gournia proves to be a prime example of how the ancient Minoans typically lived their lives and further investigation promises to shed more light on the life-ways of this ancient people -- mariners, agriculturalists and tradesmen who conducted commerce with the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians and, for centuries, ruled as the number one Mediterranean power. Excavations begin June 18, 2011 and continue through July 31. They are currently seeking students and volunteers for a six week commitment, with the option of college credit for field school participation. Participants will be lodged in the nearby coastal town of Pacheia Ammos and will have access to tavernas and cafes and a bus line that serves all parts of Crete. More details and the application process can be obtained by writing to watrous@buffalo.edu.